For years, I often told the story of how I saved a million dollar DASH helicopter from dumping into the Pacific Ocean.
The DASH Transmitter was always near the rear of the ET shack, however the ET’s were not responsible for maintenance.
One day, my division officer came running down to the ET shack to tell me that the DASH transmitter had stopped communicating with the helicopter, that there was only 5 minutes of fuel remaining, and asked if there was anything I could do to help. He claimed that the DASH was designed to hover if it ever lost communication with the ship and that it was hovering a good distance from the ship.
I ran over to the DASH transmitter to see what I could do. I noticed that the meter that showed “Plate Current” was sitting at zero, which obviously meant that the transmitter was not transmitting. There was only one thing that I could think to do, so I hit the front of the unit as hard as I could with a closed fist. Imagine my surprise when the plate current meter suddenly showed that it was now transmitting. I got on the sound powered phone and told them to “try it now”. They said that they had regained control. I told them that they had better hurry and get that thing back on deck and I thought about Scotty from Star Trek when he said “I’m doing the best I can Captain. I don’t know how long I can hold it!”
I just sat there watching the plate current meter when after about 2 minutes, it suddenly dropped to zero again. I immediately hit it again and got the same response as the first time, full recovery. I was told later that when the plate current dropped for the 2nd time, the DASH was just coming over the side of the ship and took a sudden dive, causing a few sailors to hit the deck. Apparently, the 2nd hit saved it from crashing into the ship and possible badly injuring someone. The DASH helicopter, and possibly a few sailors, were saved by a well placed fist.
Later, I opened the transmitter and found that the leads on the crystal for the transmitting oscillator were not cleaned and that the routine PMS had not been accomplished. As the leading ET aboard the Kyes, I used this incident to prove to my ET’s how important it is to perform planned maintenance.
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