More diversion problems . .

a small monkey eats bananas in a national park. Asian jungle with monkeys
 

On one diversion that had monkeys as cargo we had to remove them from the aircraft to have the hold cleaned and also to feed and water the animals. Unfortunately, one of the monkeys escaped and ran across the warehouse floor to the wall and within a few seconds had scaled the wall and was now sitting on one of the roof beams.

This was a huge problem because we did not have any idea if the animal was healthy or what deceases it could spread amongst British animals and humans.  

How to get it down . . . use bananas of course – a monkey will do anything for a banana, or so we thought.

We tried to tempt it down with various fruits in the hope that we could capture the animal.
Ollie, one of my colleagues, was adamant that we should do our best to keep the problem in house before we called in a sharp shooter. 

rifle

Ollie tried his best to entice the animal down and spent a considerable amount of time placing fruit at strategic places. The animal did come down partway and took some of the fruit, but it was always just out of reach of being captured.

Ollie was very concerned and kept telling me that it was only a matter of time before the animal would trust him . . . 

Finally Ollie did get close to the monkey, which emptied its bowels and threw some of the contents at Ollie and hit him in the head – Ollie was upset to say the least, so he rang the police for a sharpshooter muttering about the ingratitude of monkeys. 

The monkey was shot with a tranquilliser dart from memory, rather than a bullet.

asleep

Found the picture on the internet of a tranquilised monkey.

I’ve called my colleague Ollie, which was not his name, I haven’t seen him for over forty years, but I do not wish to cause him any embarrassment if he sees this post.

Ollie

I named him Ollie, because he reminded me of another Ollie, not in looks, but in ‘off set ability’.

One night Ollie and I were on nights together (there were two of us because a freighter was due from New York), I was working on the load plan for the final leg of the flight to London and I’d left Ollie to listen on the radio.

Our call sign was ‘Speedbird Manchester’, and the inbound flight was ‘Speedbird 066’ (i.e BA 066). 

Around 3.00 am the aircraft was still over the Atlantic, and they called us for the local weather to assist them when landing.
Normally we would ring the airport control tower for a full weather report because the aircraft dealt with us rather than the tower.

This night Ollie decided to go outside to see what the weather was like, and then wandered back to the radio.

‘Speed 066 this is Speedbird Manchester, – it’s raining!’ this in a strong Bolton accent

There was silence from the aircraft, until the aircraft replied and asked if we could be a little more explicit!

What they wanted was cloud height, wind strength, and wind direct etc.

Ollie held the microphone and said ‘Speedbird 066, this Speedbird Manchester please hold . . . ‘
after which he wandered outside again and on his return to the radio he said – ‘Speedbird 066 this is Speedbird Manchester, it’s pissing down!’

After that night I refused to work nights with him ever again.         

Tales of woe

When I joined BOAC there were about 23 or 25 staff made up of office staff and warehouse staff.

We worked a three shift system 7 am to 3 pm, 3.00 pm to 11.pm and a night shift, and certain staff worked office hours (day shift).

On Saturday & Sunday we had one office person and two warehouse staff on duty from 7 am to 3.00 pm and the late shift consisted of one office worker (this was before H & S had been invented).

Night shift was one office worker unless there was a scheduled freighter due in when there would be two office staff on duty.

Most of the office staff would ‘play’ with a forklift until they were proficient because cargo would be delivered for export outside normal hours, and someone had to operate the forklift to unload the cargo.

In addition, we often had the general public walk / drive in with heavy suitcases or packages.

One late Saturday afternoon when I was in duty a car pulled up and the driver and his wife wanted to send excess baggage to India as they were flying there later in the week.

This was not unusual so I told the driver to drive around the corner and in to the warehouse and to park near the scales so that the baggage could be weighed & measured.
Cargo was sold by the kilo or by the volume – one volumetric kilo was (is) 6000 cubic centimetres, but in the 1970’s it was also sold as 427 cubic inches = 1 kilo.

I walked across the warehouse to the parked car and noticed that the rear springs were nearly touching the floor, the diver must have something heavy in the boot.

I was told by the customer that he had a suitcase to send in advance, and because he had a ticket, he was entitled to 50% discount off the cargo rate – which was true.

I asked him to place his suitcase on the scale – he opened the boot and struggled to unload the suitcase and eventually managed and put it on the ground. I tried to pick it up by the handle to place it on the scale – it was so heavy I could not pick it up, because I was concerned that the handle would break. The suitcase weighed just over 44 kilos.

I asked what he had in the suitcase and was told it was clothing and some personal effects.
I then switched to Hindi (with my Scouse accent) and asked with a smile if it was so heavy because he had stolen all the dobi walla’s work.
(Dobi walla means ‘washerman’, as in laundry man).

At least this brought a smile from the customer, so I asked him to open the case and show me the contents – he was reluctant but realised that he did not have a choice.

On opening the case I saw that it was a Triumph Herald gear box, or something similar.

TH

Triumph Herald car, circa 1970

gear

Triumph Herald gear box packed in the suitcase. 

No wonder he had a struggle getting it out of the car . . . but he insisted that it was his personal effects, so I asked him with a smile to wear his personal effects if he wanted the 50% discount.

There was a long silence until I told him that he was exporting car parts and he should have an invoice.

He looked blank at me until I explained that if we coded his shipment as car parts it was a lot cheaper than the 50% excess baggage.  The light dawned and he and I entered the office and I made out the document (Air Way Bill) to accept the shipment as car parts and he sat at another desk and wrote out an ‘invoice’.

The full kilo rate was around £10 per kilo, so by claiming the 50% discount the customer was expecting to pay £5 per kilo, but be reclassifying the cargo as car parts the price was about £1-10-0 per kilo. (£1.50/kilo).
The UK did not change to decimal currency until February 1971. 

awb

AWB =- the above code of 406 denotes the airline, so the BOAC code number would be 125 – followed by a unique number for tracking the shipment, by telexes not computers.
At that time all paperwork was completed via the typewriter because computers were in the future. We had to press hard to produce, I think from memory, eight copies of the original via carbon paper between each copy . . .   later the AWB paper was produced with the ability not to require carbon paper. 

The customer paid and we left on good terms. As I processed the paperwork, I heard a loud bang and crash from the warehouse.

The customer had driven in to the warehouse via the ramp, but on leaving he had exited via the truck loading bay  . . . 

drop

This is to illustrate the drop – it is not a picture of the BOAC warehouse.

The car was balanced part in the warehouse and the front part delicately balanced in mid-air. As soon as I realised what had happened, I fired up the fork lift and drove down the ramp and placed the forks under the front of the car to stop it tipping any further. I shouted to the driver to put the car in neutral.
I then slowly raised the forks of the lift and eased the car back into the warehouse. 
The driver was shaking, but I do not think it was from the experience of nearly driving over the edge of the warehouse, but from the torrent of language and arm waving from his wife. She was not happy!

I pointed out the ramp to the driver and left them to have their domestic . . . 

————————————————————-

Life can be strange – working for an airline we sold cargo space in pounds or kilos – dead weight or volumetric weight. We converted it to kilos for shipping and charged in pounds, shillings and pence at so much a pound . . . .we used ready reckoners to work out the totals.

Consider 43 kilos at £2-6- 7- 1/2 (Two pound six shillings and seven pence h’penny / kilo), but don’t use a calculator!   

In 1969 /70 we were on the cusp of the personal electronic calculator at a cost that the individual could afford. 

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Ready Reckoner – having used both & I prefer the calculator 

Ringway

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Manchester Ship Canal in the early 1900’s.

Over the years Manchester had a number airports, the first being built near the Manchester Ship Canal, and it was called Trafford Park Aerodrome. It opened in 1911 and closed in 1918.

This was followed by Alexandra Park Aerodrome, which can be seen below.

Alexandra_Park_Aerodrome_1923

Manchester’s second airport 1918 – 1924 –
there isn’t any trace of the airport left because it has been built over for housing, and a main road was built at the eastern part of the site.

Woodford Aerodrome or Manchester Woodford Aerodrome came next, which was a former private aerodrome for Avro aircraft manufacturing. This company built the

Anson

Anson

Lancaster

The Lancaster bomber

Vulcan

The Vulcan bomber just to name three famous aircraft from this company.

The aerodrome was expanded in the 1930’s and after the war the company was bought by Hawker Siddeley, and years later became part of British Aerospace.

In the meantime, Manchester created a municipal airport called Wythenshawe in 1929, which was the first municipal airport in the UK.

300px-Manchester_(Wythenshawe)_Aerodrome_1929

Wythenshawe Aerodrome

This airport was always only temporary and only lasted a year.

  1280px-Aa_rackhouse_streetscene_00

What Wythenshawe Aerodrome looks like today.

The penultimate airport was Barton Aerodrome or City Airport Manchester.

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Four grass runways, 9.00 am to 8.oo pm operation, and this airport is still open today, and all the original buildings are now ‘protected’ because they are grade two listed buildings, which are often used as setting for films & TV.

As this airport was opened in 1930 another airport was being considered, and construction began in 1935 and completed in 1938. The airport was located near a small parish called Ringway.

240px-Ringway_-_Saint_Mary's_Church

Ringway Chapel

Ringway in Cheshire has a recorded history going back to 1173, and the first time the chapel was mentioned was in 1515. The chapel was used during the English civil war 1642-1651.

In 1776 the original chapel was demolished and replaced with a new red brick building. In 1863 Ringway chapel became Ringway Parish church, and in 1894 it was demolished and rebuilt and consecrated in 1895.

The airport is still referred to as Ringway by locals, and when I worked there it was called Ringway, but when dealing with people overseas we called  it Manchester Airport.
The airport official changed its name from Ringway to Manchester Airport (MAN) in 1954.

During the war the airport was known as RAF Ringway.

The hanger / warehouse where BOAC cargo was located (which is where I worked) used to be the training hanger for RAF Ringway, where they trained parachutists during WW2.
I’ve read that 60,000 soldiers were trained, in this warehouse / hanger, to be parachutist.
The troops came not just from the UK, but Poland, Canada and other allied countries.

Parachute_Training_at_Ringway_Art.IWMARTLD5635

I found the above on the internet, which illustrates how they trained the recruits in the basics of parachuting.

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As far as I can make out by using the internet, I think the hanger where I  worked is now the check-in area for Ryanair and KLM. The airport has completely changed since I left in 1980.
At least I was able to find the pubs on Google maps that we used frequent . . .

airport pub

The Airport Pub – which we only visited very occasionally, because it was very close to work, and noisy due to the aircraft, but I note that the pub has now made the noise an attraction . . . .  

A24-1

Back garden of the Airport Pub . . . 

Tatton ArmsThe Tatton Arms
Close to the airport for a quick lunch time pint and a pickled egg, the picked eggs were very good.

ship inn 01

The Ship Inn was further away from the airport than the Tatton Arms, and it had a  different ‘atmosphere’ altogether. 

ship-history2

The Ship Inn dates back 350 years and used to be a store house for manure until the farmer started to brew beer.
The wisteria plant that grows outside is claimed to be 260 years old.

I started this post with a picture of the Manchester ship canal, which was opened in 1894, 134 years after the wisteria was planted . . . . 

wisteria

Just a reminder of wisteria in bloom . . it is not The Ship Inn wisteria.

Flies, sand & water rationing . . . .

We sailed from Ras Al Khaimah for Dubai, which was a very short ‘voyage’ of about 112 km (70 miles) or about four hours at a very economical speed.

dubai_1960

Dubai Creek in the 1960’s.

As you see the creek was too small for a deep sea ship to use, so we anchored off the coast once again, and waited for the dhows to come out to us. Click on this link to see how the cargo was handled, which was very labour intensive in Dubai Creek in the 1960’s

After we’d anchored the sea started to get rough due to a sudden squall, and the wind increased (called shamal by the locals) so we didn’t see any dhows for two days. It was a  hot wind  that brought flies & midges that infested everywhere, and not just outside, but also inside our accommodation. The result was short tempers and a lot of hand waving – today we would have called it the Aussie salute

To cap it all we were running out of water, so we had to ration what we had left. Water was available from 7 to 9 am, Noon to 1 pm & 5 to 8 pm. We were not sure how long we would be at anchor and the water boats could not get out to us during the poor weather

At that time desalination systems for cargo ships was unheard of, we just got used to the different taste of water from around the world, a bit like tasting different beers from around the world, but not as enjoyable.

dubai-creek-60s

Another shot of Dubai Creek in the 1960’s.

We did have a fight on board between two of the crew, I put it down to the conditions at the time.
It happened when I was on anchor watch, so I kept out of sight just in case it became ‘nasty’ at which time I would have interceded. I considered it better to allow the fight to happen now, rather than to fester and perhaps become a major problem later.
My concern was in case a knife was drawn, but it started like a girl’s fight at school with a lot of slapping and hair pulling.
It upgraded to a little wrestling, but neither looked like they were getting hurt and eventually the heat and the flies won, and they both gave up fighting and disappeared below to their accommodation.
We had an Indian crew, and they didn’t drink alcohol, so I didn’t think it was an alcohol fueled fight.
During my time at sea I only saw two ‘upsets’ – this one, and another were a Chinese cook became upset at another Chinese crew member and went for him with a meat cleaver. That one was stopped immediately.

Just to show the changes that have taken place in Dubai –

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Note the clock on the monument . . .  1968

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The same clock in the same position today.

Oil was found in Dubai in 1966 and the first cargo of oil was exported in 1969, so when I was there, the richness of Dubai that we know today was in the future.

Dubai Airport 1971

The above photograph shows the new expanded Dubai airport, which was opened in 1960, and the first runway was compacted sand and could only take DC3s – in 1965 a second runway was built, which was tarmac – and the first passenger jet landed in 1965.

Before the original compacted sand runway was built the only way you could arrive by air was in a flying boat of Imperial Airways, later BOAC,  & later again, British Airways.

Short_S-23

Imperial Airways flying boat – top speed was 160 mph.

In 1938 they offered four services a week from London, and when the passengers went ashore in Dubai they were taken to the BOAC Jetty, and this jetty was still called BOAC jetty until it was demolished in the 1980’s.

Eventually the wind dropped and the dhows came out to us to unload cargo and sail / row their dhows back ashore and up the Dubai Creek.

The change in weather conditions also allowed the new first officer to come out and to take up his duties. It turned out that I’d sailed with him when I was a cadet in Dunera just before I sat my 2nd Mates exams.

The original first officer had been promoted to captain and his new command was anchored not far from us – happy families – my ten pound a month extra for being a temporary 2nd Mate didn’t last long.

Our next stop would be Abu Dhabi.

 

 

Tea?

In the mid 1960’s I paid off a ship in Khorramshahr, (which is in Iran) and drove to Abadan (still in Iran) to fly Iran Air to Tehran to catch a BOAC (now called British Airways) flight to the UK. This was before the fall of the Shah of Persia, which didn’t happen until 1979.

Iran air

This trip from Abadan sticks in my mind due to the huge amount of hand baggage that the passengers were allowed to carry on board such a small aircraft (small for today’s aircraft), from memory it was a B727/100. At that time  Iran Air only had two jets, one B 707 & one B 727.

The hand baggage of one person included a small primus stove.

After we had taken off, and the seat belt sign had been switched off, the passenger with the stove squatted in the aisle and lit the primus to make his tea. The surrounding passengers didn’t react. I could see the tea maker a few rows ahead of me, and as I unfastened my safety belt to tell him to put the naked light out, there was a blared movement of a stewardess moving from the for’d part of the aircraft to the tea maker. I’ve never seen a cabin crew member move so fast before or since.