was a talented engineer, highly regarded in our industry for his
practical approach to problems. Jack could also be a bit of a
bastard as Chief Pilots and Operations Managers occasionally discovered.
But Jack Mac also had a delightful and endearing trait.
When the 1600 whistle sounded, it was down tools and up to the
Tenno in Mascot, or the Brighton RSL, or perhaps the Cauliflower
in Waterloo and over a few jugs, Jack's bonhomie ensured the day's
tensions melted away.
At this remove of nearly 50 years, who would remember the date
of that first keg? It must have been about the time that Adastra
moved into the new hangar near the eastern end of the 25 runway,
when Jack had his brainwave. No doubt there would have been some
of the field crews back at base to make the tarpaulin muster worthwhile,
and Jack suggested that we broach a barrel and have a get-together
in the hangar.
This was an immediate success and the Thursday afternoon Adastra
keg became a fairly regular event. And what an ambience for a
social gathering of people in aviation - the trestle table set
up, perhaps, under the wing of good old AGU, next to a Hudson
up on jacks ready for weighing, or the Aero Commander in for a
100 hourly, with a couple of lighties squeezed into the corners.The
news of these social occasions soon spread around the airport
and guests regularly included industry reps and DCA personnel
with whom we dealt.
The tarpaulin muster by this time, had mostly given way to the
"special occasion", when one of the staff or a guest
would donate a barrel to celebrate an anniversary or merely to
put one on, in thanks for earlier hospitality. It was surprising
how often these events arose and before long, Jack's girl Friday,
Chris, had to be consulted and a booking made for a suitable date.
On the scene now appeared Len Hay. Big Lennie, a draughtsman from
Ken Seaman's photogrammetry division, had an artistic bent and
a bit of the larrikin in him. A great cheer was heard one Thursday
when Len arrived with and fitted in an appropriate spot on the
hangar wall, a two dimensional replica of a barrel. This realistic
piece of whimsy was adorned by small shields bearing the names
of previous keg donors, and naturally, further festooning occurred
as the events and time rolled by.
I often wonder what happened to the "Keg of Honour".
It was an example of Len Hay's skill certainly, but I think of
it more as a tribute to Jack McDonald's contribution to that special
cameraderie which became an Adastra hallmark.
25th January 2004