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Legless in Singapore

Getting into a routine II

The next day on arrival at work, I went through my usual routine of checking the movements board, saying goodmorning to everyone, making a cup of tea and then I sat down in the crewroom to plan the day. The first movement was the departure of the Canberra PR9 at 09:00 not much to do there, just a few startup crew needed, the next movement that day was the departure of the Belfast at 12:00, I had to do a before-flight check on the autoland system there, next was the usual VC10 at 13:00 and then that day we also had two Hercules due in at 15:00. We sat and played cards for a while, then a few of us drifted out to see the Canberra off.

I hadn't done a Canberra startup before, so I was a little interested. No headset was used on the Canberra startup, it was all hand signals between the pilot and groundcrew, the pilot climbed up the steps to the cockpit, one of the groundcrew went up after him, helped him to strap in and a while later he removed the top safety pin from the ejection seat, handed it to the pilot, climbed back down and removed the steps, The navigator, sat in the nose compartment, strapped himself in, switched on and checked the systems and then signalled for the nose to be closed, this was just a matter of swinging the nose back into position and then slamming in the locking lever until it locked 'home'. The pilot held one hand up with two fingers raised and then rotated his other arm, this was the signal for the start of the No. 2 engine, the starboard engine started fine and then he signalled for the external power to be removed by raising his arms, placing two fingers of one hand into the fist of the other hand and then pulling them apart. The power was removed and the GPU then towed away, the pilot then indicated that he was starting No. 1 engine, but it didn't start at the first attempt, one of the groundcrew then caught the pilot's attention, pointed to the engine, hit his fist against the palm of his other hand, then ran to the engine hit it hard a few times with the underside of his closed fist at the side of the engine, ran out again, gave a thumbs up to the pilot who tried to start the engine again and this time it started, no problem!

RAF Canberra PR9 Singapore

I was keeping a mental record of all of this, it all being new to me, I even saw exactly where the other groundcrewman had thumped the engine and after the Canberra had left, I asked him what the problem was with the engine and he, being a propulsion engineer and being experienced on Canberras told me that it was just a sticky AVPIN valve, that had jammed, he went on to tell me that this happens quite often and is not really a problem if you know where to hit it, to free it again. AVPIN is the very highly flammable liquid that is just used for starting an engine, once started it is not used again until the next time that engine needs to be started and after initial startup the engine runs on AVTUR normal turbine engine fuel. I then wandered across to the Belfast, started the GPU went upstairs to the flight deck, switched on power and ran through my autoland system before-flight check and as per the day before, everything was fine. so I shut everything down again, went to the Ops. room and signed the Belfast aircraft log book (700) as the aircraft flight systems having been checked and found to be fully serviceable and operational.

RAF Shorts Belfast aircraft

I was on the ground headset again for the Belfast startup, everything went fine and the aircraft took off bound for Hong Kong. It was time for lunch then and that day I decided that I would go and try the NAAFI canteen, so we took a landrover and about half a dozen of us went there. For lunch that day, looking at the menu, I had decided to try the deep fried prawns in batter with chilli and garlic and I was very glad that I did, served with a portion of local Chilli sauce, these prawns went down very well with me. I have quite strange taste buds and I only really enjoy food that is very spicy, I even add chilli and garlic to English dishes when I cook them myself. We all had a beer each after lunch and then returned to the section just as the VC10 was on final approach. Again on aircrew debrief, there were no problems with the flight systems equipment for me, so I just joined in with the usual turn-around clean up and refuel of the aircraft and it was airborne again one and a half hours later back to UK.

RAF VC`0 leaving Singapore

When the two Hercules aircraft arrived a while later, on aircrew debrief, this time my equpment did have a problem on one of the aircraft, the captain said that the compass was giving 'jerky' movements in a turn. I was quite pleased really, for the first time I had some 'real' fault-finding work to do, so I went out to the aircraft concerned applied the power, switched on the compass system and started precessing the compass gyro unit, I looked at all of the three heading indicators on the flight deck, at the pilot's. the co-pilot's and the navigator's stations and the fault was present, but only on the pilot's HSI (Horizontal Situation Indicator). So it was quite a simple fault really, just jamming gears or a faulty motor or synchro in the pilot's HSI. I only had to fault-find to unit level, not component level on the aircraft, so I just went into our section stores, got a serviceable, spare HSI and replaced the pilot's one on the aircraft, I then ran some more checks and the aircraft compass system was working fine again. Back in the section ops. room, I filled out the relevant paperwork (700 and Form 720) put an unserviceable label with the symptoms of the fault on the unserviceable (U/S) HSI, which later would be delivered to the electronics repair lab and then I was finished and it was almost time to go home, another day over!

RAF Hercules Reed Asia

Some of the other guys were going to the Indian stall again after work, this was their routine now and they asked me to go again and I agreed. Singh arrived and took me to the Indian stall, I had my now usual keema paratha and a couple of beers. This time I actually remembered that I had someone to go home to now, so I ordered a carry-out of keema paratha and then when I got in the taxi, I told Singh to go to the NAAFI canteen on the base and there I bought a carry-out of the deep fried chilli prawns too, then we went home. Back at home, Myra was very pleased that I had brought the carry-outs, she was very hungry and soon started in on them, I got myself a beer and went to sit at the front again, John was already there with a beer and we soon started chatting. Pauline came out a while later, said hello and then went into my house to sit and talk with Myra. When I went in the house later to get another beer, the two girls were sitting there nibbling the prawns that I had brought home and they were both enjoying them, I just got another beer and then went back outside to sit with John.

This was becoming a set routine now, I really enjoyed sitting outside after work in the early evening with a beer just watching the sun go down and chatting with John from next door. We didn't have a TV, a radio or any music in the house yet, so we later went to John and Pauline's house, John put some music on low in the back. The girls sat watching TV and chatting, whilst John and I sat in the back garden listening to music, chatting, telling jokes and sipping our beer.

This was the start of a very long friendship and daily routine in Singapore

'Getting into a routine II'

Asia13: Married life in the Orient

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I shall be adding to this site over time, so if anyone is interested then please have a little patience and call back here from time to time. One of my very few pleasures in life these days is beer so I shall be occasionally referring to beer, I just wish that beer was the only reason that I am legless all the time absolutely legless now

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