Recollections of a Connie Engineer.

by Bill Fishwick

VH-EAN at Biak on 7 December 1956:
The aircraft settled on to the rear fuselage and lower outboard fins when unloading a spare engine. Pig iron ballast had been loaded in the rear cargo hold for weight and balance reasons.  The unloaders were not aware of this thus
causing the incident. It should have been offloaded first. Temporary repairs were made at Biak allowing the aircraft to return to Sydney for permanent repairs.

VH-EAP  at Nadi on 14 November 1958:
The aircraft was too low on approach and hit the ground short of the runway. It arrived in Sydney about 6pm [a day or so later ?]  I was tasked with another ex-apprentice of my year [we were tradesmen then] to mark areas on the aircraft where we saw damage. The worst that I remember was the leading edge just inboard of #1 engine where you could see wrinkles where the engine had moved downwards.
Due to its registration marks of VH-EAP it was then known as ‘The HEAP’.

VH-EAO. 28 October 1957:
First direct Super Constellation flight from Honolulu.
This aircraft arrived in the afternoon to be at the opening ceremony for the new Qantas House building in Hunter Street.  Standing in Hangar 85, I saw its landing approach and noted that it was landing downwind. It turned out that the fuel tanks were just about impossible to get a fuel remaining reading on the dipsticks.

VH-EAN  28 November 1961:
The port main gear collapsed in Hangar 20 when the aircraft was in the docking. I do not know what caused the gear to collapse. There were two engineers working in the area behind the #1 engine that contained the cabin supercharger. There was just enough space between the engine nacelle and the docking to enable them to get out.

VH-EAJ and VH-EAM  incident at Sydney on 16 December 1957:
Aircraft came into contact at the old International Terminal. One of them was departing and hit the other while still in the terminal area. I saw damage to both but do not remember much, I think that a de-icer boot was part of the damage.

Another story, this one about VH-EAG. Something about how it was built and the building jigs. Apparently the jigs were not aligned correctly. The ailerons were rigged as per the book, but in flight the control wheel was displaced in one direction. The aileron control cables ran up either side of the control column and then it was a chain over a sprocket at the top. To rig it so that the control wheel was level in flight meant that the chain was moved over one sprocket [or two ??] . The control wheel was then offset on the ground but level across in flight.



Bill Fishwick's Career with Qantas


Bill Fishwick started a five year apprenticeship with Qantas as a Ground Engineer on 30 January 1952, the day after his 15th birthday. He completed his apprenticeship in 1957 in Lockheed Servicing. When the first B707-138, VH-EBB, arrived in Australia, Bill was a member of the engineering arrival crew. Subsequently he worked in Boeing Servicing where he obtained a license on the B707 airframe and later Pratt and Whitney JT-3D engine. Later he was promoted to Leading Hand [now Senior LAME position]. In 1971 he did Boeing 747 and P&W JT-9D engine courses. In the 1980s he completed courses on the B767 airframe and engine. A number of other courses such as B747 Combi, SP, Supervision etc were undertaken over the years. In the late eighties, Bill spent a year in an office job helping to get the EMCOST system up and running. He returned to servicing and then did relieving positions as Tango Base and Tango One operator at the International Terminal. Bill moved to a full time position as Tango Base operator in the late 1980s. His entire career between 1957 and 1991, except for EMCOST, was spent in a servicing environment in the hangars or at the International Terminal. In 1991, he was offered a 'Golden Handshake' and retired aged 54 on 23 July 1991 after 39 years, 5 months and 24 days with Qantas.


Issue Date
1 07AUG11

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