Avro - Downwind! - Pt Cook


Avro Down Wind!

An elaborated legend - Written for my son, the event actually happened on No2 Pilot Mechanics Course probably in 1940 or early 1941 - Geoff Raebel 2000

“Christ!” The airfield Duty Officer shouted, dropped his lamp and took two quick steps too his desk, snatched up the Very pistol, cocked it and fired a red star across the airfield.

The whole training operation stopped. He wound the handle of the direct phone to the Station Commander.

“Yes” came the stern voice

“I’ve got a Cadet coming in down wind – Deadstick, Sir”

“I’ll be right there” replied the Station Commander.

The Duty Officer looked out to see a near miss between two Avro Cadets, while on the ground an airman was winding the starting handle of the Thornycroft fire tender.

The instructor in the Avro departing upwind had seen the red star and immediately taken control. Pushing the nose down to see ahead over the engine, the instructor’s eyes nearly popped when he saw another Avro directly in front. He made a steep turn to starboard to avoid the collision. Passing low over the swamp with its white skeletal trees he thought “ Poor Sproggie, can’t blame him for not wanting to kill himself in there.”

In the other Avro, Corporal Raebel was busy trying to calculate whether he would make it over the airfield fence. So many thoughts were going through his mind. It had been a bad day from the start. Running up he had bad magneto drop on one side. A fitter was called over to replace one set of spark plugs. The fitter was reaching for his box spanner to run each of the plugs down before tightening them when the Flight Sergeant called him away for another job. The airman who replaced the fitter had assessed the job and simply snapped on the high tension leads. The engine ran up okay but soon after take off began spitting out the loose spark plugs. Facing probable death in the swamp in the over-shoot area, Raebel, still with some power, turned back for the runway before the engine failed altogether.

Raebel was still pondering his fate in the Station Commanders office a half hour later.

The Squadron Leader bellowed at him “Never – never - turn back! You were very lucky, even experienced pilots stall and spin close to the ground trying to make a 1800 turn. Now, because you saved the aircraft and saved me writing to your relatives, I won’t put you on a charge, unlike aircraftsman Williams who forgot to check that the plugs were tight!”

“Now” he continued in a softer tone “That’s the official reprimand” he offered his hand “Congratulations on your survival and thanks for saving the aeroplane.”

Raebel shook the hand, saluted “Thank you, Sir” made an about turn and left for his barracks.

Last Updated (Monday, 03 January 2011 23:49)

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