March 2022

Club News

February meeting: Chairman, Andrew Jurenko, welcomed 19 members and 3 guests. Our speaker was caught up on the M25 and gave apologies. Fortunately, Dennis Evans stepped in – see page 2. Chairman’s charity raised £40 and Raffle £17.

Almoner, Andrew Kellard reported: Alan Bird’s wife is ill and Alan (92) has decided to retire from Probus; John Guest is recovering; John Morgan still has trouble with his knees.

March is our AGM. Current committee agreed to re-stand for their current positions with Roger Gourd moving up to Chairman.

The annual subscription in April will be £20 (not collected in 2021 and £30 previously). Speaker costs are often up to £100. Members asked  to volunteer to give talks and to be on stand-by.

Andrew Banfield has arranged an outing to Chatham Historic Dockyard and ‘Call the Midwife’ location on Tuesday 26th July. Meet Old Coulsdon at 9.15am. £40pp. Leaflet coming out shortly.

May and June Lunch Meetings this year will be on the preceding Tuesdays – 3rd May and 31st May.
3rd May will be our Open Meeting – wives and partners invited.

Please notify lunch changes by 10.30am the prior Tuesday to secretary@coulsdonprobus.co.uk
Please notify Member News to Almoner, Andrew Kellard.

Please email vincent@fosdike.com with articles/news for the Newsletter

Speaker today: Liz Marshall from Chairman’s charity NASS. 

April: Daniel Doust: Personal panic alarms from TED Protect.


All aboard the skylark by Dennis Evans
from his impromptu talk in February

Most jet aircraft now have Axial Flow engines. The air hits multiple blades on the intake fans, is compressed and heated, and flows out the back, and not surprisingly the aircraft goes forward quite fast.

In those far off days, 1950s, the original jet engines were Centrifugal Flow, the air again entering the mouth of the engine, but then hitting a large disc with centrifugal grooves, flinging the air out into the combustion chamber, and after compression and heating again, squirting out the tailpipe and pushing the aircraft along pretty fast.

The engine of the Venom FB1 was a de Havilland Ghost 103 turbojet. Most jet aircraft now are quite simply started by pressing a button, an electric starter gets the fans moving. The Venom, and many other aircraft at that time used Cartridge Starts. Two large explosive cartridges were inserted in the engine compartment, and the fan started to move by the detonation of the cartridge. If the first one failed, you tried the second one.

If this also did not start the fan revolving, you had to go and get another two from stores, not the best situation in an operational aircraft on stand-by in the Cold War. When a Venom did start with an almighty bang, flame and blue smoke shot out the back of the tailpipe. Because of the way the Venom sat on the tarmac, this initial flame tended to burn the tail elevators.

So, an asbestos blanket was placed over the elevator section. With the aircraft started, and ready to taxi, any spare ground crew should quickly pull off the blanket before it reaches the take-off point. It was possible for the blanket to become trapped by the control surface, leaving the airman with a dilemma as the plane started moving carrying the dutiful member of Her Majesty’s Air Force on the tail boom. Of course failure to release the blanket would be fatal to all concerned. Pilots on the approach to take-off tested the free movement of their Ailerons, Rudder and Elevators, and quite frequently this held the asbestos blanket, and it could not be pulled off. But would the pilot detect the lack of control response? Should AC1 jump off and hope the blanket came free? How long could he stay on as the aircraft approached the take off point? Before this decision had to be made there was always the hope that Air Traffic Control would radio the pilot that he had a passenger on his tail.

Generally things seemed to have worked out and I never heard of a Venom being lost in action due to a blanket. As to whether a supernumerary airman was lost that way is open to speculation; they were only conscripts and cheaper than Venoms.

Note, the Venom was a small aircraft and it was therefore possible to jump on the rear fuselage.


Fortune cookies by Vincent Fosdike

Did anyone notice that the first of February was the start of the year of the Tigger i.e. the Chinese New Year. I do know some of you did as we received some messages of Happy New Year from members who know that my wife is from Hong Kong. This celebration is one of the biggest in the Chinese calendar and normally results in large family gatherings with a very special meal. Of course things are a lot more restricted at the moment. Pictures of special dishes waiting to be eaten by friends and relatives aren’t really quite the ticket however well meant, especially if a dish has been accidently just a little bit eaten before anyone remembered it was going electronically as a votive offering to the other side of the world.

Rather than give up the positive side of the new year my wife did attend a little gathering of enthusiasts of Chinese classical painting at our local café which is used for four or five painters once a week for painting sessions. On this occasion not much actual painting was done, it would be mainly a social occasion and only four members were able to attend but the conversation was lively and the fortune cookies were handed out. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these little bon bons they come in bright red metal foil packets about the size of a small packet of peanuts. On opening the red (colour of good luck) packet, one discovers a crunchy wheat hollow item a little like the shape of small clam shell. They are ready to eat without further ado or so one might easily believe. After all peanuts and various other “eat in the cinema” items are fine. 

As the conversation of jokes, anecdotes and of course medical updates gathered momentum there was naturally no thought to read the instructions on the box of these little delicacies. This was the nearest we were going to get to a celebration, what kind of party pooper was going to read the labels in the midst of the latest thrilling accounts of newly discovered symptoms. Munching and coffee drinking settled into an agreeable rhythm whilst those in the know employed their worldly wisdom to split open the fortune cookies and remove the little printed sayings concealed therein. They are written in several languages including English, and like Christmas cracker sayings are designed to enlighten the gullible and amuse the cynic. So guests read them out spontaneously and ask others what they have got. 

One member, when asked to read hers said she had not found one in her cookie so perhaps they did not all have them inside. She said well perhaps it had fallen into her boot or perhaps the pocket of her jacket but a search initially revealed nothing. This lady is the most cool and logical of the group, possessed of an untroubled demeanour even when telling us that she had suffered an online bank fraud. Most of us would have already been on medication but she took it all in her stride. This accords with her analysis of the next member’s declaration. “My one was empty as well.”

To our amazement our cool member said “No yours was not, I saw you eating it, watched it go down.” The group turned to her in amazement! “and I suppose you found it more interesting to watch it going in than to halt the proceedings” said another. The cool lady merely gazed back totally untroubled. It could have been a scene from Murder on the Orient Express. Then laughter broke out, somewhat enhanced by the fact that the eater being hard of hearing had not picked up on the evidence!

Some days later we found the warning on the packets. It would have been a shame if we had read it first, a little bit of merriment lost.

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