By Gerald Wanek



The next best thing to a lie is a true story no one will believe - Mark Twain

A heavy fish on a long line is one of the reasons I never learned Morse code.

I was aboard my first air station just out of AT school and a real green kid. The base was CGAir Station Elizabeth City N.C It was only my second or third flight as a crewman and was flying as second radioman with L.P(Pete) Jones AT-1 as first radioman. Our assignment was to be the "distress" aircraft and perform nightime ditching drills with the CG Cutter Mendota a few miles off Charleston N.C

Pete loved to work CW. He had let the trailing antenna out all the way. I don't know how many feet he had out behind us but believe me it was a long way out as I soon found out

We finished with the drills shortly before dawn and started heading back to Elizabeth City. Pete hit the switch to bring the trail back in. You guessed it -- Deader than a door nail! It is not a good practice to bring a plane in for a landing with a few hundred feet of trailing antenna behind you. Yours truly was given the task of crawling into the tail section of the aircraft, removing the reel and reeling in the trail by hand. The reel was only about 6-8 inches in diameter.

There is also a fairly heavy weight known as a fish on the end of the trail. A good way to describe the crawl space where the reel is located would be to say someone about three foot six would still feel like they were in cramped quarters. It took about 45 minutes, a lot of four letter words, and very sore arms and fingers along with hitting my head on the overhead more times than I could count, but I didn't loose that fish. In all the flights I took as a crew member I made up my mind I was NEVER going to use that blankitty blank trailing antenna if I could avoid it

Maybe that's why I never learned morse code.


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