Captain Albert Ball V.C. – British Ace 1896 / 1917 Pt.2
In June 1915, Ball decided to take private flying lessons at Hendon Aerodrome, which would in turn give him an outlet for his interest in engineering and also possibly help him to see some action in France sooner. He paid to undertake training at the Ruffy – Baumann School which charged £75 – £100 for instruction which in those days was a major investment. Ball would wake at 3.00 a.m. to ride his motorcycle to the Flying School for flying practice at dawn, before beginning his daily military duties at 6.45 a.m. his training at Ruffy – Baumann was not unique, Edwin Cole was learning to fly there at the same time. In his letters to home, Ball recorded that he found flying “great sport”
Although considered an average pilot at best, by his instructors. Ball qualified for his Royal Aero Club Certificate No.1898 on the 15th of October 1915 and promptly requested a transfer to the Royal Flying Corps. He was seconded to No.9 ( Reserve ) Squadron R.F.C. on the 23rd of October and trained at Mousehold Heath Aerodrome near Norwich. In the first week of December he soloed in a Maurice Farman Longhorn after standing duty all night, and his touchdown was rough. When his instructor commented sarcastically on the landing, Ball angrily exclaimed that he had only had 15minutes experience with the plane, and if this was the best instruction he was going to get he would return to his previous unit. The instructor relented, and Ball then soloed again and landed successfully in five consecutive flights. His rough landing was not the last Ball was involved in, He survived two others. He completed his training at Central Flying School, Upavon and was awarded his pilots wings on 22nd of January 1916. A week later he was officially transferred from the North Midlands Cyclists Company to the R.F.C. as a pilot.
To Be Continued……………….
(C) Damian Grange 2019