Log Book entry ESM AEW and Vertrep 4.45 hours
The longest I ever spent strapped into a Lynx. I was crippled by the time we got back. Compare that to the almost 8 hours I did doing a SAR mission in a Sea King where I was fine afterwards and you realise how badly designed the Lynx seating position was. The key problem was that you couldn't move the seat backwards and forwards. You need to do this to ensure your right hand can rest on your knee while holding the cyclic stick. In my case I couldn't and so the back muscles had to take the strain. It may sound trivial - you try it!
Why do I expect little sympathy? - anyway this was a good day. The AEW bit was uneventful and then we went shopping.
Some weeks previously we had discovered that our tail rotor gearbox was badly corroded. You may think it daft to make helicopter gearboxes out of a material that will literally dissolve in sea water - magnesium. Unfortunately the weight saving is so important it has to be done. Consequently protection is very important and ours had failed. Some years later when I was in MOD I managed a research programme into preventing this with some success. However we had no replacement and having signalled home with the details we had been given a concession to keep flying subject to regular inspections. Once we knew of the problem we used a system called 'MATCONOFF' which translates to Material Control Officer. The idea is you raise a signal with that as the heading to all the ships and say what it is you need. We did and no one owned up to having a spare gearbox. Lying B*****s. So our concession was running out and we had no choice but to do some ferreting around ourselves. On completion of the sortie we nipped back to Mum and with one of the ships Supply people on board went around the fleet. We would land on and then he would disappear into the bowels of the ship. After a few duds we hit the jackpot. A certain RFA which we knew had Lynx stores on board came up with the goods. We never looked too hard into why they didn't say they had a gearbox when we first asked as we were just too happy and frankly too busy. Actually they probably may not have known. This was in the days of paper records and knowing the rush that things had been loaded at the start of the war, much had gone missing. Mind you, after the war if anyone had actually weighed the amount of stores 'claimed' to have been sunk with the Atlantic Conveyor it would have sunk the ship three times over!! Wars are really quite good for rationalising your stores accounts.
So back to Mum with our prize and just in time or we would have been grounded and then we wouldn't have flown for the next few days which would have been a shame........