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by Bill Mitchell


Bristol Freighter VH-AAH
Lionel on one of the nose doors of Bristol Freighter VH-AAH at Giles in 1960

The engine change crew at Giles with Lionel driving the tractor


When it comes to making instant coffee, the manufacturing and advertising gurus of such a product have no idea of the meaning of the phrase unless they had witnessed Lionel V.P. preparing an inflight brew. The DC-3 VH-AGU was grounded at Giles, W.A. awaiting a replacement engine and Lionel and his Bristol 170 "Frightener" VH-AAH were engaged to deliver a spare P&W R1830-90B engine from Mascot to Giles. Accompanying him were the crew to do the engine change who included the Managing Director Bunny Hammond, Works Manager Jack MacDonald, Electrical Foreman Les Sheffield, the company's two top apprentices Barry Kerr, Clive Gibbons and myself.
(* Also on board the Bristol Freighter was Peter Woyzbun, Adastra's Chief Geophysicist. The operating crew of VH-AGU comprised Jack Howard, Bruce Gregory, Les Snape and Jim Hilferty).

To relieve the boredom of the delivery flight, I climbed the ladder to the cockpit and got into the R.H. seat next to Lionel. Not long after, L.V.P. announced it was coffee time and produced a Birko water heater to which were attached two electrical leads terminating with alligator clips. To my side was the main electrical panel being fed by two high amperage generators driven by the Bristol's 2000 H.P. Hercules engines. SSHIZUP---SSHJZUP the clips grabbed the 24 V. service terminals known only to Lionel and seconds later the Birko was producing clouds of steam and loud gurgles. SSHTZUP---SSHJZUP disconnect clips, coffee already in mugs and hey presto - the coffee is made. Pity we didn't have a loaf of bread aboard as there were enough sparks flying about to make a couple of rounds of toast. I didn't have a stop watch either so I can' t say how long the operation took, but it can be said for sure it was Instant Coffee! Water boils at lower temperatures as height is gained, but we were not flying so high that this fact detracted from the flavour of the beverage. However, I have no doubts of the remedy Lionel would have used had this been a problem.

Bill Mitchell
27th. November 2003

* Supplementary note added 13AUG06 in consultation with Bill Mitchell, Trevor Sheffield and Kevin Pavlich.



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