Mr. Peter W. Gross Feb. 1st, 1964
I hope you will allow my use of your first name, but I feel I know you quite well as being a good boy for having send my treasured album sheets and clippings back
Tell me did you make copies for you of my "Short Biography" and "Aero Digest, Personairlities"? If not I send it again. Today I enclose "Ein Bayrischer Komet" and "A Bavarian Eagle" you may find the stories amusing
Your last letter #6 from Jan. 23, tells me that you are realy happy with my sendings, this pleases me. If you can use them, feel free to do it - may be some day my book will still come out?. I will go and see Lonnie Raider this coming week. Puglisi arranged that and we see if he can go ahead with presenting me to the public. The poor fellow is in bad shape with his legs, goes daily to the Hospital for more than a year and does not get better; I feel veyr sorry for him.
You like to know how the flying was in the old days? it was lots of fun and I experienced many funy stories indeed from the pre-war time on; all thru my life as an aviator. I liked the light Es, Ba and Trim with rotary motors very much. That was the real flying, like the birds playing in the wind; if you were a good pilot and understood to handle the rotary engine right. -(the castor oil smell was not good for all, but agree with me very well). As for their rigidness and safety, well when they were rigged the ones with warping wings, stick in Center, you had to hold the stick there, let it loose the ship would roll (the freshness of the wood would the wings cause to bend, throw the stick to one side) so you had to fly the contraption all the time. Also with no stabilizer nor fin she would go in all directions when let loose and the feel on the controls was much more sensitive then on more modern planes. The rotary motor ha ha you had either all or nothing, no ideling, one throttle for air and one for gas, and you mixed the right proportion for taxying, start, different altitudes, glide, immediate response for all eventualities yourself. All the gas-combustion in the crankcase, sometimes exploding when the automatic intake valve build-in on top of the piston blew... I could hear on the sound in flight when it soon would come. I told them; they could not hear not give it to a pupil, and I had actually to fly it till it happened. I circled at low altitude, ready at any moment to cut the switch (pushbutton at the stick-top and main switch) and threw myself right into the field from any directional angle. That happened till I started to land the plane into the farthest away spot, so they had to push the plane all the way across the field to the repair shop. As for their safety, well (I was always lucky---).
Here is a quick story I lived thru with one of my old Pfalz parasols. One day in early 1915 they gave me in Schleischeim one of my much used parasols overhauled... I took-off, circle the field and feel right; at the begin that something was wrong; she sailed thru the air - pitching is the right word - in soft and long oscillations as if I would move the stick very lightley for and back, but I did not! The bolts must have been left out in the elevator tube-spars ? He... I come in most carefully, taxi-up, inspect tail the bolts were in...well, sheered off?! we held the control horns and moved the elevators by hand, O.K. That wasn't it. So up again, my monteur wanted to go along, I sany NO -, I go. The same thing is happening, a terrible feeling of "suspence"... I land, taxi-up, the experts start looking all over. I had left the front-seat, look at the tail, find nothing wrong, walk around to the R.H. side, pull out my cigaret-stui, light a cigarette and lean against the fuselage right were the rear seat is. While my back pushes against the fuselage I feel it gives...I turn aroung and try with my hands, I push and -holy smoke, it moves in and out and again... right where the cabane-strut-fitting graps around the fuselage spars it moves, it's broken! We unrapped the linnen tape around the spar, there was a bolt going straight thru the middle of the spar and the other-one too broken clear thru....at the hole. The rear fuselage was held on only by the section diagonal-wires and the floor parts and by the linnen tape warping around the fuselage spar. If I had allowed the mechanic to come along, his added weight at exactly the section behind the broken spars would have been perhaps too much....
That answers your question about the weekness I experienced in the Pfalz-Parasol.
As to compare the Pfalz D-XV and D-III with the Fokker D-VII; Both Pfalz had not the good performing as the Fokker. They werenot clumpsy; I liked them both. You had to be a good pilot, they spun like hell-- the Fok.D-VII did not spin, but it was much easier to fly, it was very stabil.
For me as a stunt-pilot, I liked the Pfalz. And I loved'em all there were so many others. But this must be all for today.
submitted by his son, Donald M. Smith, holder of estate.