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A Letter from the Cockpit (28 Jun 2005)
610 Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force
RAF Biggin Hill

August 16, 1940

Dear Pater,

Well, I know that writing letters with secret information in them is strictly forbidden, but the events of the last few weeks have been so extraordinary that I simply must make some kind of a record for posterity, just in case I don't make it through. I'll give this to you by hand the next time you're down this way, and that way it won't have to go through the censors. Please put it away somewhere safe – perhaps the family vault, where nobody would think to search – and that way even if the Hun overrun England (which God forbid) they won't get their paws on it.

Yesterday was bloody awful. I know I shouldn't swear, but no other word will do. Huge aerial assault from the Luftwaffe – all over England, they say, although the news about these things is always sketchy. Several heavy raids here, but we got up in the air straight away and gave as good as we got, or better.

However, I'm getting ahead of myself. The circumstances here are so different from what I was led to expect in training that I'm completely amazed… and baffled that our instructors could have got it so wrong.

These aircraft are simply incredible. You know how I struggled with celestial navigation during training. It's no picnic trying to fly a damaged plane, take star sightings, and calculate a course to a blacked-out airfield all at the same time. Well, I'm happy to say that we don't have to. The boffins have come up with navigational aids that I've never even dreamed of. To start with, there's a sort of mechanical map that always shows you where you are. It never gets damaged, and it's never wrong. And if that weren't enough, there's a device that always points in the direction of the nearest enemy. Don't ask me how it works – it's positively unbelievable. It's a jolly good thing we've got it, though, because I can't turn my head enough in the cockpit to see clearly. And there are lot of other things that simply seem like magic: buttons that suddenly change your altitude, or pull you out of a spin, or even land the plane for you. If Jerry ever gets his hands on one of these kites, we could be in real trouble.
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