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Ex-Radio Technician

Ian White

You Have No IdeaLeigh Davies
00:00 / 04:33

Back in the 60s I was a field technician for The Royal Signals. We worked on telecommunications, setting up all kinds of radio communications equipment around the world. And back then we flew a lot - we spent many trips flying in a Hercules. It was a rough enough ride in them at the best of times. Loud. Drafty. Rough. They flew quite low, so they really dug their claws into the turbulence. Anyway, this one time me and the boys were doing a night flight as we moved on to our next post, and we were due to stop off at Ascension Island on the way. The thing is, I’ve never been a good flyer… but what happened on this occasion made me feel even worse about it. Anyway, everyone settled in and found themselves a spot to catch some sleep. Except for me, wide awake, no chance of sleeping it out. So, to take my mind off things I decided to check in with the pilot. It was a night flight so it was dark flying but all was well. I wasn’t in the cockpit with them long before that changed. I suddenly saw the pilot’s face drop. I followed his eye line to the hydraulics reading. It just plummeted. Before we knew it, the plane had lost all hydraulic fluid. And to think I went in there to take my mind off things…Next thing I know I’m being sent out of the cockpit. The copilot thrusts this long metal crank into my hands, and I asked “what’s this for?”. He said “we have no hydraulic fluid, the flaps aren’t going to move themselves… YOU are going to be our fluid. Emergency procedure.” That was that then. So I got into position, and the pilot relayed instructions back to me and the co-pilot. We cranked as needed. The manual system required so much cranking... But eventually we managed to get her to where she needed to be and we landed safely. The thing is, the boys… they slept through the whole ordeal. They woke up not long after we landed. As we got off, the sun was rising. They all took one look at me and said “what on earth is wrong with you Ian boyo?”

Wide eyed and white as a sheet I said, “you have no idea”.

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