HAROLD F. HOLTZ---'17
There has been scarcely any flying the last few days on account of the weather. Believe me, it has been cold down here in sunny southern Italy. Where the sun goes under and stays under, and rain comes for several days, it gets exceedingly disagreeable. All day yesterday it rained hard and long, and with it I had a rather novel experience. A young Italian was killed at the North Camp and was given a military funeral. Ten of us fellows went by request from the office. It was quite an impressive affair, and I learned a good many things about the military customs of this country. We have had six or seven flying days since November 1st, and the rest of the time has been a burden. I have had eighteen lessons in flying so far and only a few more will see me doing it above.
Today I was up four times and was doing long glides from 1000 feet and making a 180-degree turn about half way down. If all goes well now, and I fly for the next couple of days, I will pass my first brevet on Sunday morning. My brevet will consist of forty-five minutes at a constant altitude of 3500 feet, and two sets of figure eights of five each at 1500 feet. I do enjoy flying by myself, and hope some day to be a pilot good enough to fly a Sia or scout machine, the kind that does the fighting and the chasing.
It has been raining for the past few days, but we have done some flying just the same, yesterday and today. I had one ride during the day, and this morning it was quite wonderful, much finer in fact than the day before, when it was so terribly rainy and windy that the old boat just rocked and at times felt like a rapidly descending elevator. To drive it is like driving a car down a very crowded street for the first time. It certainly kept me real busy. But this morning it was fairly smooth and I climbed thru the soft, white clouds to over 2000 meters, or about 7000 feet, and could see so dreadfully far over the snow-capped mountains, out over the blue Adriatic, and the white ribbons which run everywhere, which, on the ground, we call roads.
The past few days have shown me lots of flying, and I am now ready to take my raid. I finished my line work on the 2nd, brevet yesterday afternoon after two hours of flying, and today I have just sort of rested up, for I find that the altitude work is very tiresome. On my hour and a half, which was really eighty-six minutes, I climbed to 4200 meters, and then glided in with several spirals. It is somewhat like climbing the mountains very rapidly, as far as the breathing is concerned, for it requires shorter and faster breathing.
Lately here there have been a great number of fortunate falls and accidents, for none of the boys have been injured badly. I am going to Naples Sunday night so as to spend Christmas there. If I am more than fortunate I will complete my raid on Sunday morning. It is something like 275 kilometers and requires about four hours in the air over 10,000 feet.
Yesterday I spent most of the morning going thru the Pope's palace on the Vatican and St. Peter's Church. There was the most wonderful collection of mosaic pictures and great historic sculptors' works that one could imagine. There are 11,000 rooms in the Vatican, and each Pope builds the apartment for the one