Sam Pickard, son of C. C. Pickard of Lawrence, wrote home this month while training in the Royal Flying Corps of Toronto, Canada. During a practice flight one evening, Pickard had “found something wrong with his machine so that he could not read the instruments before him to tell his location. His experiences are best related in his own way: ‘Just night before last I got lost in the clouds. Had absolutely no sense of direction and it got dark and began to rain. I knew they would have flares out for me and finally I saw a light back a few miles. I dived down and saw a train. I was so tickled to get that little clue that I yelled for joy although no one could hear me. I kept circling around so that the train could keep up with me and in about forty miles I saw the lights of a city. I flew around a couple of times but didn’t recognize the place. I had not been able to see my gasoline gauge for two hours and my engine was missing, shooting flames out, so I dived to the ground and could barely make out trees from pasture. By luck I made a perfect landing in a good field, tied my wings down and trotted over to a farm house to call the commanding officer. The men in camp were a tickled bunch. They had heard me go over about an hour after dark but they had to go through a lot of red tape before putting out flares. When I flew home next morning they about shook my arm off…. Indications are that some of us will be sent to Texas soon. I hope I get to go for the weather is too bad for flying here now.’”
World War I in Lawrence: Aviator tells family of harrowing flight
December 3, 2017
Editor’s note: As the U.S. marks the 100th anniversary of its entry into World War I this year, local writer Sarah St. John will compile reports of what it was like to be in Lawrence at that time.