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The Stopwatch


Ron’s story reminded me of another happening during my days at Base Flight. It proves that age and experience didn't always mean the "Oldies" were necessarily right (Except now when I'm the "oldie".)

We had just finished a minor servicing on a Whirlwind and it had gone for it's ground runs and air tests. All had gone well until the first All Up Weight power climb. The pilot started a timed climb between two specified altitudes. The test failed miserably, so bad were the results that the pilot cancelled the rest of the airtest and returned to base.

There was only one outcome, replace the engine. This was duly done, the engine boys working late to complete the change. Next day off they went again, same thing, engine failed to achieve acceptable times. Back down to base and a third engine fitted. Air test time again and another failure. By this time the problem was attracting a lot of attention from senior squadron personnel and a hasty conference was arranged to talk the problem through.

While this conference was in progress with all the squadrons Engineering Officers (Eng O's), Trade Managers, and Engine Bay Sgts deciding whether to try a fourth engine, along came the most junior engine LAC and stood listening. Thinking that the lad was showing some interest in Senior Management decision making and wishing to encourage the young mans trade knowledge the Engineering Officer asked the airman what his thoughts were. "Well sir", said the junior LAC, "I think the stopwatch is wrong". Not impressed with this flippant remark about a highly calibrated and revered item of
engineering equipment, the lad was verbally cuffed about the ears and sent to wipe up some spilt oil.

The funny thing was that the engineering committee disappeared into the Eng O's office and were observed through a window checking THE STOPWATCH against the Senior Eng O's Rolex. We never changed the engine for the fourth time and, at the next airtest, a new stopwatch appeared and the engine greatly exceeded the minimums required. !!!

The young engine LAC was, I believe, one John Bartlett, but if you know different why not give us your version