Eine Kleine Nichtmusik

Witty and pertinent observations on matters of great significance OR Incoherent jottings on total irrelevancies OR Something else altogether OR All of the above

Monday, November 09, 2009

Fired with enthusiasm

Hands up if you remember Tony Hancock's "Test Pilot" sketch. (I think its formal title is "The Secret Life of Anthony Aloysius Hancock".) It used to be a radio favourite when I was small: Hancock is testing some new jet when he hears a knocking sound. He slows down and opens the hatch to investigate, whereupon he encounters Kenneth Williams, a member of ground crew who was maintaining the aircraft when "Whoosh!". Williams climbs in, complains about all the knobs and levers sticking in him, and asks "Ooh, what's this one?", followed by "Don't touch it!" and BANG! in short order. "Oooooh, it's the ejector seat! Where are you?" "I'm out here, sitting on the tail!"

Anyway, I was unavoidably reminded of it by this news story. I especially like the final paragraph.

Actually the guy was very lucky that he was only in a low-speed Pilatus, not something more gutsy. I mean, one can buy trips as a passenger in a MiG-25, or so I believe. That can hit Mach 3 (Gillette were offering flights a few years back as competition prizes linked to their Mach 3 razors). The first guy ever to make a just-barely-supersonic ejection in the early 1950s (from a Super Sabre whose stuck elevators had just pushed him down beyond vertical) received injuries officially described as "awesome". And that was just from the ejection process.

Perhaps this old chestnut from the 1960s is still apt, especially if read in an Afrikaans accent:

Alles touristen und non-technischen looken peepers! Das machinkontrol is nicht for gefengerpoken und mittengrabben. Oderwise is easy schnappen der springenverk, blowenfus, undpoppencorken mit spitzensparken. Der machine is diggen by experten only. Is nicht fur geverken by das dumpkopfen. Das rubber necken sightseenen keepen das cotton-picken hands in das pockets. So relaxen, und vatchen das blinkenlights.


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