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JACK MCDONALD

by Geoff Linfoot

 

Jack was my first boss and what a character he was! I recall one of the Hudsons, either AGX or AGS (I distinctly remember it having Cyclones) had been operating from a dirt strip. Those air intake scoops were like big vacuum cleaners and large quantities of dust were being sucked into the engines. Therefore, the rings and cylinders prematurely wore out and the engines were burning around 4 gallons of oil an hour. The oil tanks only held 15 gallons, thereby only permitting a maximum of 3+ hours of operation between top ups. It was not feasible to operate the aircraft while the engines were burning oil at that rate and Jack flew over to "sort" out the problem. The aircraft arrived in Sydney some time later and as it taxied up to the hangar, DCA swooped on to it. I don't know how they found out, but they sure weren't impressed with what Jack had done. He had mounted a 44 gallon drum of oil in the cabin, with a hand pump and two hoses going through the main spar to each oil tank! Jack's only comment before DCA blasted him was "Is that illegal?" he said innocently.

Jack had a special "broom" to sweep the hangar floor. It was a Cessna 185. Without warning he would start up the Cessna in front of the hangar and "fishtail" the aircraft back and forth to blow the dust (and anything or anyone that wasn't tied down!) to the back of the hangar.

We were cleaning out the store and came across a box of detonators. Jack couldn't stand the birds that decided to make the hangar roof their home, so he would sometimes set off the detonators, scaring the birds and anyone else who was unfortunate enough to be in the hangar at the time! One time, a piece of detonator shrapnel hit him in the forehead and he was bleeding.

The best thing to do if Jack came back after a "liquid lunch" was to keep away! There were many times he would do things like reach behind you as you were talking to him and push a bottle of oxygen over. He got a big kick out of watching you jump at the loud crash of the oxy bottle hitting the floor. He also loved making acetylene "bombs" and frightening the daylights out of anyone that was in the vicinity.

Jim Page (the other apprentice) sure had his share of Jack's "surprises". Rather than utilise the conventional method of inhibiting a motor prior to storage, that is, remove the spark plugs and fill the cylinders with oil, Jack had a "better" idea! Why not pour oil into the intake with the engine RUNNING. The engine cowls were removed and Jim was ordered to position himself on top of the engine with a bucket of oil. The motor was started and the only thing that was inhibited by oil was JIM. The propellor blast blew the oil over him and I'm sure the bucket ended up on the other side of the airport! All Jim could do was hang on for grim death to avoid the same fate as the bucket!

The tug ("tractor" used to tow aircraft) wouldn't start so Jack decided to clutch start it by towing it with our International truck. Jim was told to drive the tug. All I remember is Jim screaming at the top of his voice for Jack to stop. I gather the fact that the two front tyres were down to the canvas and the tug got the "death wobbles" at any speed above 10 kmh, scared Jim. I guess also that because Jack was towing the tug about 50kmh didn't help the situation!

Geoff Linfoot
1st March 2003

 

 

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