More aviation fall-out
MONDAY'S item on the photographer who fell out of a Harvard training aircraft off South Beach recalls a couple of other hair-raising incidents.
It was in Pretoria soon after World War II that air force pupil pilots were training in Canadian-designed Chipmunks, which had the pupil in the front cockpit and the instructor behind. Each had a wooden joystick to control the plane, that screwed in at the floor.
When the instructor felt the pupil had got to the stage he could fly solo, he would tell him to make a pass over the airfield. Then he would unscrew his joystick, fling it over the side and tell the pupil to take her round again and land.
Everyone knew, however, that the instructor had a spare joystick clipped to the side of the cockpit. It was always there.
The instructor did his trick flinging the joystick over the side. But this pupil was a bit of a smart Alec. Instead of taking over the controls on his own, he unscrewed his joystick and flung it over the side as well.
The instructor reached for his spare and horrors! this time it was missing. They had to bale out and the Chipmunk crashed.
It must have been an embarrassing board of inquiry. But boys will be boys.
THE OTHER incident also involved a photographer, in fact a man let's call him Frank who had accompanied me to Angola on occasion. The news service to which we were attached had made a significant investment in a camera that had a strong zoom lens that worked through an arrangement of mirrors. It was flat in appearance and did not look like a bazooka as most long lenses did in those days. (It was not wise in Angola to point anything that looked like a bazooka). It was state of the art equipment and had cost a bomb.
We were back in Johannesburg and Frank borrowed the camera to shoot some skydiving. A few of us were in a hostelry washing down the dust of the day when Frank came in. He was scratched, bleeding, bruised and looking shaken. He proceeded to tell a tale that made the blood freeze.
He was at the open door of the Dakota, taking shots of the skydivers as they manoeuvred into a pattern below, when suddenly something caused him to lurch out. He had no parachute but his leg was caught in a leather strap and he was being dragged, banging against the side of the aircraft. Nobody else was left in the plane apart from the pilot at the controls.
Frank was himself a skydiver. He tried to kick free of the strap so he could freefall to the group below and grab on to one of them. But then some kind of backdraught pulled him into the plane again.
The bar fell silent as this horror story was related. Then the head of our news service spoke, a lanky individual let's call him Stringbean who was doyen of the Africa press corps.
"You're damn lucky you didn't break our camera. You'd have been in serious trouble!"
THE WASHINGTON Post encourages its readers to send in neologisms. Here's a selection from some of those judged the best:
· Bozone (n.): The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.
· Foreploy (v): Any misrepresentation about yourself for the purpose of getting laid.
· Giraffiti (n): Vandalism spray-painted very, very high.
· Sarchasm (n): The gulf between the author of sarcastic wit and the person who doesn't get it.
· Osteopornosis (n): A degenerate disease.
· Karmageddon (n): Its like, when everybody is sending off all these really bad vibes, right? And then, like, the Earth explodes and it's like, a serious bummer.
· Glibido (v): All talk and no action.
· Beelzebug (n.): Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at three in the morning and cannot be cast out.
DANCE hall dialogue:
He: "Would you like to dance?"
She: "I hate this tune and anyway I wouldn't dance with you to any tune."
He: "You misheard me. I said: 'You look fat in that dress!'"
Anything not worth doing is worth not doing well. Think about it.