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Forgotten: Furlough Flying with Sk 15

[ aviation ]

[ en, sv ]

The airman Nils describes an episode in the Swedish Air Force when he flew and carried out an unsanctioned air show for his parents.

Translated by Mattias Holm.

This is the English translation of an article previously published in an anthology (in the original Swedish). However we have not been able to determine which one. Only that it was at pages 111-113. Contact Mattias on Mastodon or file an issue at GitHub if you have more info.

As flight instructor at the aspirant school, it was difficult to get a leave. So, when I offered on Friday, October 20, 1944 to fly an Sk 15 that needed major overhaul to CVV (Central Workshops in Västerås), it was well suited to me as I could then visit my parental home a few tenths of km south of Eskilstuna.

Sk 15
Figure 1. Klemm 35 / Sk 15. 1 August 1976, CC-BY 3.0.

The weather was very bad with a "No fly day". The meterological assistance discouraged from flying, but because it was better weather north, I decided to carry out the mission anyway. Between Nässjö and Linköping I was however forced to railroad height, though with margin for meeting trains. Behind the smokestack you felt a lifting effect thanks to thermals. I landed at Malmen F 3 for refueling, but was not allowed to carry on due to a bad weather flight ban. The Saturday started with good weather and I started towards F 1 in Västerås. It should be noted that I had an older brother that was an officer at F 1, he had visited home with a Sparman S1A and made an attention-grabbing air show. I naturally had to show that I was even better, at least I had attended the flight instructor course.

To get a better understanding of the altitude loss in the composed advanced air show program, I rehearsed it near Katrineholm.

The show finished at a good altitude in inverted position with a dive and leveling also in inverted position. Then I saw something flying past my eyes. I turned the aircraft right, turned 180 degrees and saw something falling down to ground. I quickly figured that it was my classified numbered map that had abandoned me. I circled after it and saw it landing in a stony hill in the middle of a turnip field. Luckily a farmer was out de-shawing the turnips only 20 meters from the hill. Because I was afraid of not being able to explain the loss of the map (marked with secret military airfields), I wrote in my instructors note book a message to the farmer and asked him to send the map to me with a promise of an ample reward. A couple of dives towards the hill showed where the map was laying. I flew over the farmer at 5 m altitude and threw out the "letter" and set a course towards Västerås.

Just before passing by my parental home, I dove down towards another estate to say hello. During the sharp climb after, I looked back to see if I was noticed. I saw nothing except the message, that I threw out to the farmer, nicely folded around the tail fins front!

Ljungbyhed to Västerås
Figure 2. Rough flying route. Total distance 242 NM / 449 km.

At the parental home Tandla I managed an in my mind nice airshow, that ended at very low altitude. Between the wing and the farmhouse, I had to (inverted) go up fast in order to not injure a pair of large ashes and a flagpole. After a good by wave in a vertical turn, I continued to the nearby school where I brightened up the children’s break with a vertical turn between the school building and a flagpole 8 m away.

On a straight course towards Västerås I could not really recognize the aircraft, but I cold not figure out why. The engine was spinning nicely and the the aircraft was working normally. Maybe the sound was a bit strange. For safety’s sake I reduced the speed and arrived successfully to Västerås, where the activity was in Saturday mode, with standby crew as a welcoming committee. I felt a bit unsure of myself and made a very bad landing. I probably had a bit of a guilty conscience.

Before I had time to climb out of the cockpit the mechanic jumped up on the wing and greeted me with the words:

 — Where has the sergeant been? Has the sergeant been <prank flying>? The whole trunk lid is gone! Can the sergeant explain that?

I saw an impending court martial and dismissal so I (forgive me good God) responded with:

 — Oh, it must have been that mechanic at Malmslätt that did nott properly close the lid when he hung back the tank cap key.

The lid was quite large and followed the shape of the hull. It was right behind the pilot seat and was closed with a snap lock. In addition to my suitcase the inventory list, motor journal and I think even the hand crank.

That I quickly left the airbase is perhaps understandable. At the Västerås railroad station I called home. My mother answered and the following dialog took place:

 — Hello!

 — Hi, it is Nisse. I am in Västerås and will be home visiting in a few hours.

 — Ok, you are welcome!

 — You don’t sound surprised.

 — No, you were just here, so you are expected.

 — But you could not know it was me. It might as well have been Erik (my broder, serving as a lieutenant at F1).

 — No for two reasons. Firstly I recognize your suitcase that you so recklessly throw in front off our feet, and secondly Erik would never be so lazy as you. He would certainly carry his suitcase himself. But you are welcome anyway you big buffon!

Even before I got home, the school children had arrived with the lost items that had been found between the farm and the school. At the inverted climb the bag must have due to the centripetal force been thrown towards the trunk lid, that bent further, pulling out the bolt of snap lock from the socket. The air power dit the rest of the work. The bag had landed only 5 meters in front of my parents. One of the suitcase’s corners had smaller damage, and from the content only the razor was broken, while the camera and a hair water bottle was intact.

Of course, I never received the map, and luckily not any reaction from the air force either. Otherwise, maybe I would not have been enjoying over 40 years of flying.