Webmasters Note: Another one from Richards collection for which I am grateful
Now memory being what it is, I can't quite remember when this took place at Lossie; But it is true. Again, being a young J/T placed on shift with wizened old Sgt's and Chiefs, Castle seemed to be volunteered for just about anything. Mind you, in youth one feels quite invulnerable or should that be gullible.
Now a new type of stretcher was delivered to us with an invitation to see how well it would work. It consisted of the conventional 2 aluminium poles and 4 strops and a bit of canvas to lay the patient on, similar to an ambulance job. This would then be attached onto the winch wire and hoisted away into the blue yonder. I believe that the idea was to make it easier to get the patient into said stretcher than either the usual strop or bamboo fully secured unit. If you have ever been in one of those, that is a real experience on helplessness!
Anyway, there is, as you can imagine, only one way to test such a unit and that is with a "live" patient and as usual Castle was to be that patient! So, once again., I stood (well laid) patiently on the pan for the kite to get airborne do a quick twirl, lower the hook and pick me up along with the winch-man who was to "do" the biz. Well, this was not the first time I had done this type of thing, so no great scare there, but it was the first time I had ever been placed on an open stretcher with only a winchie steadying it.
So, with a couple of tons on Whirlwind hovering above us, the hook was sent down to us, clipped onto the stretcher and winchie and away we flew into the air. Now I have to admit that I liked being on the wire, the views were superb and one always had a great feeling of freedom, it's just a pity that I never took any photo's of the experience but photography was hardly encouraged on RAF stations was it! Anyway, there I am 50 foot above ther ground and 20 foot below the chopper with the winchie steadying me when the bloody thing tilts to the side, rolling me onto my front .
Imagine the view and the sensation, to my right side a piece of canvas, to the left 2 of the strops supporting the stretcher and below....nothing, bugger all! 50 foot of space and just 2 bits of wire digging into my legs and chest saving me from being a real casualty! Now the Nav was doing what the Nav's do best, reeling in the wire whilst looking out of the door admiring whatever Nav's admire, when this bit of metal and canvas arrived at the door with a J/T trying to evacuate himself from more than just the stretcher! After duly being dumped into the cabin, we returned to Terra Firma, where I was asked my opinion on the ride from a casualties point of view. Needless to say I responded in the negative.
Oh! Does anyone remember changing wheels or cleaning the belly off with WD40 with a kite in the hover? Or should I once again suffer from loss of memory for another 30 years.
I think I heard about that one Richard. I think it's a story that should be told. (Webmaster)