Saturday, July 18, 2009

A Better Job than We Did

Congratulations to the students at Westgate's Ursuline College for winning our Kent schools, 'Young Apprentice' competition; reworking the ground that we watched on the BBC recently but with a winning slogan for Thanet's beaches: "More than meets the eye."

It's reported in the Thanet Gazette that Apprentice contestant, Mona Lewis, who acted as one of the judges, commented: "They definitely did a better job than we did on the Apprentice."

Well done Ursuline!

Back on Earth and after a walkaround the 'Pride' event in Margate this afternoon, I've just caught the end of a programme on the Apollo 11 mission on the BBC.



For me, the Apollo missions had an important influence on my life. I remember, age 13, staying-up all night to watch the landing. I was very much into the whole space 'thing' from Gemini on. For Apollo 11 I had a special moon mission pack which I studied religiously and included all the flight details and even some checklists and sadly enough, I can still recall some of the engine start sequences for the command module: "Inject prevalves on...." etc. At 53, I wish my memory was good enough to completely memorise the full sequences on the DA42 I will be using for my instrument flight test at Cranfield in the next two weeks. I have to confess that I've now explored the limits of my own abilities. Most commercial pilots take the IR exam in their early twenties and the ageing 1960's processor, which is now my brain, is struggling under the workload.

For example and 'under the hood' with critical instruments turned off, a 120 degree compass turn should take forty seconds with the stopwatch going; " 120/3.. easy no? But under stress it might as well be "1211122223/3"

We all notice a gradual physical decline as we get older but the mental side is far more insidious and at times it's disheartening to watch oneself making mistakes as the brain becomes so preoccupied with processing information, that it has no spare capacity and can't accept any more inputs. Tasks are either dropped or done in the wrong sequence; what's called an action slip.

Thinking back another thirty years and thanks to the internet I've a reunion this month in London with the friends from both sides of the Atlantic, that I went to university with in the States. As one put it in an email to me yesterday, "Biggles old mate, I'm sure it will be a mixture of beers and tears."

1 comment:

Richard Card said...

I was on an Army parachute course in 1969 at the time of the moon landing.

I remember a Sergeant major, putting us through our paces, being interrupted by a young admin officer who had rushed out from his office

"Sarnt major, Sarnt major I thawt the moon was more than a mile acwarss"

The Sergeant major answered "Have they just announced on the news that the astronauts are now in a one mile orbit of the moon sah ?"

"Just so just so Sarnt major"

"It means they are a mile high Sah"

"oh mmmmm I see. Carry on Sarnt major"


Twenty years later, in the Neptunes Hall at Broadstairs, I heard the story being re-told. The man telling the story had been an NCO instructor on the course. Small world. WE had a good few beers and his girlfriend confided in me "I always thought he made those officer stories up".

No they really are that stupid.