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The Wartime Journals Of Charles A. Liondbergh
A Peacetime Hero Confronts Armageddon
October 1970 | Volume 21, Issue 6
During all of this conversation Goering sat in a large armchair in the corner of the room. He spoke at length, then sat back and frequently closed his eyes while the translation was going on. Then he would speak again. He was wearing a blue Air Corps uniform which, I was told later, was of a new design. Some of the air officers (German) were laughing because they had never seen it before. Apparently, Goering has the habit of turning up unexpectedly in new uniforms. The last time I saw him, two years ago, he was wearing a uniform of white and gold. …
“My admiration for the Germans is constantly being dashed against some rock such as this.”
… After landing we were escorted to a line of four planes: the JU-88, the Messerschmitt no, and two Messerschmitt log’s. … Major Vanaman and I were asked not to mention the fact that we had been shown the Junkers 88. We next inspected the Messerschmitt no. Then passed on to the 1091 was to fly. I got in the cockpit while one of the officers described the instruments and controls. The greatest complication lay in the necessity of adjusting the propeller pitch for take-off, cruising, and diving. Then there were the controls for the flaps, the retracting gear, for flying above two thousand meters, for locking and unlocking the tail wheel, and for the other usual devices on a modern pursuit plane. After studying the cockpit, I got out and put on a “chute” while a mechanic started the engine. Then, after taxiing slowly down to the starting point, I took off. The plane handled beautifully. I spent quarter of an hour familiarizing myself with the instruments and controls, then spent fifteen minutes more doing maneuvers of various types (rolls, dives, Immelmanns, etc.). After half an hour I landed, took off again, circled the field, and landed a second time; then taxied back to the line. The 109 takes off and lands as easily as it flies. …
The Times (England) carries a long account of the Jewish troubles in Germany. I do not understand these riots on the part of the Germans. It seems so contrary to their sense of order and their intelligence in other ways. They have undoubtedly had a difficult Jewish problem, but why is it necessary to handle it so unreasonably? My admiration for the Germans is constantly being dashed against some rock such as this. What is the object in this persecution of the Jews? …
… Went on to Munitions Building, and then to the White House in time for a 12:00 appointment with the President. A crowd of press photographers at the door and inane women screeching at me as I passed through—a disgraceful condition to exist on the White House steps. There would be more dignity and self-respect among African savages. …
I went in to see the President about 12:45—the first time I have ever met him. He was seated at his desk at one end of a large room. There were several models of ships around the walls. He leaned forward from his chair to meet me as I entered, and it is only now that I stop to think that he is crippled. I did not notice it and had no thought of it during our meeting. He immediately asked me how Anne was and mentioned the fact that she knew his daughter in school. He is an accomplished, suave, interesting conversationalist. I liked him and feel that I could get along with him well. Acquaintanceship would be pleasant and interesting.
But there was something about him I did not trust, something a little too suave, too pleasant, too easy. Still, he is our President, and there is no reason for any antagonism between us in the work I am now doing. …
Roosevelt gave me the impression of being a very tired man, but with enough energy to carry on for a long time. I doubt that he realizes how tired he is. His face has that gray look of an overworked businessman. And his voice has that even, routine tone that one seems to get when mind is dulled by too much and too frequent conversation. It has that dull quality that comes to any one of the senses when it is overused: taste, with too much of the same food day after day; hearing, when the music never changes; touch, when one’s hand is never lifted.
Roosevelt judges his man quickly and plays him cleverly. He is mostly politician, and I think we would never get along on many fundamentals. But there are things about him I like, and why worry about the others unless and until they necessitate consideration? It is better to work together as long as we can; yet somehow I have a feeling that it may not be for long.
Returned to Munitions Building [for a meeting of the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics]. … First, the regular routine business, then a demonstration of new developments by Dr. [George W.] Lewis. Afterward, I brought up the question of research facilities. I asked how we expected to catch up with military developments abroad (in aviation research) with our present facilities. … I made the point that while we could not expect to keep up with the production of European airplanes as long as we were on a peace-time basis, we should at least keep up in the quality of our aircraft. …