Flying Stories from Scudrunner and others. Feel free to submit your own "Tall Tale"
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John Swallow
Posts: 319
Joined: Fri Jun 03, 2016 1:58 pm


Portage La Prairie 24 April 1973 

I'm in Portage La Prairie as a student on the military helicopter conversion course and an old friend, Gary, has been appointed as my instructor.  Well, to be more precise, not so much appointed as self-appointed.  When my name appeared, Gary plumped to be named as my instructor.  There was some reluctance to this suggestion from his superiors due to a perceived conflict of interest, but Gary prevailed.  As it turned out, I won the "Top Hat" award as the best student on course in flying and academics.  Of course, it helped that there were only two people taking training and one of them had to leave prior to graduation.

Helicopter training used to be given at the Joint Air Training Centre in Rivers, Manitoba at the Basic Helicopter Training Unit using the Hiller Nomad.  In 1970, it was moved to Portage La Prairie and the next year saw the arrival of the first of the Bell Kiowas to replace the Hillers.

In addition to the normal training on the basics of helicopter flying that covered hovering, confined areas, off level landings, no-hover landings, etc., navigation ability had to be demonstrated, even though the students had proven themselves on the Tutor.  And so it was that Gary and I planned a trip from Portage to Cold Lake, Alberta for the Friday afternoon social hour in fighter country.

Now, the morning of 24th April did not start well; I awoke to fog swirling around the barrack block and obscuring the hangar line.  Gary and I had agreed the previous day that I would go to met briefing and then meet him at the hangar.  With breakfast out of the way and weather in hand, I linked up with Gary and explained that the weather should lift around ten Oclock.  Gary was actually pleased with the news: I forgot my wallet at home and this will give me time to go back into town and get it.  He glanced at his watch and indicated that if I'd keep checking the weather, he'd be back by ten or shortly after.

The fog started to thin around nine o-clock and an hour later, it was flyable.  Gary showed up a bit later and we were on our way.  Six and a half hours later, with stops in Yorkton and Saskatoon for fuel, we were sitting in the snake pit in the Oh-club in Cold Lake sipping on a couple of beer.  Having flown into the Mountain Time zone, we had gained an hour and were alone in the back room waiting for Cold Lake flyers to realize it was Friday afternoon and time for refreshment.

We were still in flying suits and at some point, Gary reached out to pick up his beer.  He was startled when I suddenly accused "You went home this morning and went back to bed for a little 'morning delight', didn't you?"  Gary sputtered, coloured up, and said "What makes you think that?"
Because when you left the hangar this morning to go back into town to get your wallet, you looked at your watch to confirm the time.  I grabbed his left arm, pointed, and crowed:  "Where's your watch?!"

Well, the fat was in the fire and the story came out:  my friend Gary had recently married and when he arrived home, his new wife was just coming off shift work at the local hospital.  Having been trained in Army ways after his time in the Air Force, Gary knew all there was to know about "concurrent activity" and that "time spent in recce is seldom wasted." However the pearl of wisdom that had stuck in his mind was "In the field of human endeavour, there are certain things for which you can neither save up nor make up."

And you don't take a shower with your watch on, do you?                               

By John Swallow

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Posts: 1351
Joined: Thu Feb 13, 2014 5:08 pm

Love it! great read thanks for posting John
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