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 propeller 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
1st March 2003