Aircraft Life Support Fitter,
Safety Equipment Worker & Fabric Worker

The Fitters 2008 Grapevine: No 1

Vol: 1

Date: 1 Oct 2008

Welcome to the new Look/Name Newsletter

As you can see we have restyled the newsletter and called it The Fitters Grapevine. We thought the name was appropriate as it not only related to our RAAF Aircraft Life Support Fitters Trade but also provided an informal line of communication for interaction between each other - helping to maintain friendships.

When I first discovered the ALSF website I was impressed by its format and the excellent work by its creator, Al Kendall, who has endeavoured to inform and keep us connected. But after reading through the various texts I noticed that the news had aged - like quite a few of us I suppose, and thought I might be able to offer some help. The newsletter is an excellent idea but it will only continue to flourish with the support and contribution by all of us.

We have an excellent website, a forum, where we all can talk, criticize and discuss different points of view, and have an opportunity to communicate with other like minded people. But more importantly we have a common place where we can maintain the camaraderie that we all enjoy.

We need to support Al Kendall with as much feedback as possible - positive or negative, from both male and female members and ex-members of the RAAF SEW / ALSF Trades. We’ll include any feedback received from members into subsequent newsletters, and it doesn’t have to be about the RAAF or our trade. It could include items of information like: your own personal experiences; news items; say ‘hi’ to someone or trying to find someone.

We would also like your comments and suggestions about reunions. Do you want to attend? Al Kendall has suggested the places & times in the opposite column. ………Give us your feedback. I look forward to your comments or suggestions.

Regards……Robert (Bob) Bartlett.

NB: Each month we intend to email out a copy of the newsletter to all members listed with email addresses. If you don’t want to receive further copies just let us know. Also if you know of someone’s email address that’s not listed - let us know.

Where is it?

Does anyone know where this bridge (on right) is located?. Clue – Reach for the Sky actor who played the role of ‘Tin Legs’ Barder of the RAF walked up the 39 steps to find it.

Where is this bridge?

Old Waries (Stories)

There was a RAAF member at PTF Williamtown years ago that was well known for using colourful adjectives in every sentence that he uttered.

He had just returned from a joint exercise at Okinawa where he and others were responsible for the repacking and servicing of a variety of safety equipment and eventually, at the end of the exercise, he was given the task of packing all the equipment into large wooden crates for their safe return to Australia.

Always ready to grab an opportunity, the member decided he would pack his own personal effects with the cargo of chutes, including some duty free liquor – probably for his own personal consumption. Anyway, he arrived back home and days later the crates arrived as well. In fact, I think the whole squadron would have heard that the crates had arrived by the screaming of adjectives coming from the PTF section.

It was quite unfortunate for the RAAF member that all the bottles had broken in transit and it smelt like a distillery when the crate lids were removed. But more serious was the fact that the liquid had soaked through to a large number of parachutes. As I was a raw newcomer to the RAAF I never found out if any disciplinary action was taken.

Maybe someone else out there has heard the story?

The Large Carrot

Although it’s a NAVY story, I think it’s applicable to all the armed Services. The other day I heard of a 30 something year old Petty Officer was finishing another stint but had decided to get out and join a private company in a well paying civilian occupation. However, at his final interview with his CO, he was offered a $40,000 retention bonus if he re-engaged - so he signed up again.

He admitted to his father that he was still in shock as he didn’t know about the bonus until that day – the NAVY must keep it close to their chest. I did a little research on the web and found that the bonus amounts fluctuate from a few thousand dollars upwards, depending on your service occupation, skills, rank and manpower numbers.

I’ve heard that these bonuses aren’t usually paid in a lump sum and the larger amounts are spread over a number of years, and they are taxable of course. I suppose one should consider that a bonus of say $13,000 per year may be reduced to $7,800 after tax, and weigh up the possible civilian salary after three years. But I think its a positive move by the government.

I wish they had that carrot when I was due to get out. I vaguely remember my final interview with the CO as he laid down the re-enlistment papers in front of me and asked if I was re-engaging When I replied in the negative, he just said: ‘Thanks and the best of luck for the future.’

The Foreign Trade

Do they still do foreigners between different trades? It used to be like a grass roots economy within RAAF bases, where a job was done for one trade section and in return some reciprocal arrangement was arranged. Our trade was in a fortunate position as there was always a need for something made of canvas or vinyl, but not always the case with Airframes or Engine sections.

There was a member that manufactured a overnight bag for an Engine Fitter at RAAF Pearce and in return he was given some old used sump oil to paint his paling fence at home, but someone must’ve spotted the exchange and the engineering officer found out. Both members were carpeted, and with four tins lined up on a table the officer put his finger in each container and proclaimed that two of the four tins contained unused new oil and that both men should be charged.

Many at the time thought it unjust and the exercise was just to set an example, as it was discovered later that all the tins contained used contaminated oil from the motor pool section.

Weeks later, the same officer had instructed a surface-finisher to spray dayglow (paint) over four road safety cones (witches hats) that he kept in his Merc. He was going on holidays back east and wanted his cones painted so they could be displayed on the road if he broke down while on the Nullarbor Plain.

Last Post

The will lists members have recently past away.

Editors Say!

Quote of the Month A constant friend is a thing rare and hard to find – Plutarch

Wot’s in a name? Parachute - ‘Para’ from the French word, with Latin prefix, meaning ‘against’, and ‘Chute’ from the French word for ‘fall’.