OCTOBER 1, 1942
SAN DIEGO, Wednesday—I left Fort Worth in the very early hours of the morning on Tuesday by plane and the sun was just beginning to turn the sky red as we reached Tucson, Arizona. There were plenty of soldiers, sailors and marines on board. The young man next to me was a ferry pilot who told me that he had just been on his first trip to Australia as a co-pilot. On his return, he had been granted a three day leave, from which he was just returning. The trip to Australia had evidently been much more pleasant than he had anticipated, and so he was looking forward to other trips with interest.
The things you are not doing are always much more adventurous than your own job, and so he spoke with considerable awe of the ferry pilots who were flying to Great Britain and to Africa. I am sure that they would in turn speak of his flight to Australia as equally important. Many of these boys have held civilian pilot licenses before the war, but have had comparatively few hours of flying until they came into the service. Now the hours are piling up and I hate to think how many of them most of them will have flown before the end of the war.
The pilot who was flying us to Los Angeles, reminded me that he had flown the President from Albany to Chicago when he went to accept the nomination in 1932. We reached Long Beach a little after 8:00 o'clock and were told that the fog would probably prevent our leaving the field in Los Angeles till noon. I accepted the invitation of Captain Bagby, public relations officer at the ferry command base in Long Beach, to visit the base.
Colonel Ralph E. Spake, the commanding officer, and Lieut. Colonel John P. Fraim, the executive officer, showed me over the field. They have a very interesting method of re-conditioning officers who come in from long flights. They give them a steam bath and a light massage and they do not let them overexercise, though they have a big gymnasium and someone to put them through exercises if necessary.
They tell me that an officer can come in from a trip in the morning, spend three or four hours, and start another trip in the afternoon, usually stopping at night somewhere on the other side of the mountains.
I liked the sign over the room where the pilots wait for their final orders. It reads, "Through this portal pass the finest pilots on earth," which must give them all a sense of satisfaction, for that is the way their commanding officers feel about them. Food is served here, men can play games and sit and talk. The wives, many of whom live nearby, can come and wait with them until the call comes to start on a trip.
A little after nine, I left and arrived in San Diego at my son's house about 12:30 on Tuesday.