Top Brass Come to Town


Anticipation was rife in the base. All the pilots are on edge due to the fact that the Top Brass is to visit. A good review of the base will mean they get more planes. For the last week all pilots have been making the base spick and span. Planes have been polished, the tarmac has been scrubbed, tools put back in their rightful place, pilots have had their six monthly shower one month early, pairs of underpants have been turned inside out on the pilots that wear underpants and a new long drop has been dug to replace the overflowing one out the back.

The hour was at hand. Spotters had radioed in that the convoy was approaching. Pilots assembled on the tarmac and stood at parade rest. Only three had to be told that parade rest does not mean lying on the tarmac.

And then, arrival. On the shoulders of the guests are more stars than the Milky Way. Hotdog strides forward and salutes.

"Welcome to the RNZAF. Commander Hotdog at your service."

"At ease Hotdog. Why don't you show us around? Then we can go and discuss your bases financial requirements."

"Yes Sir! Would sir wish to see a B17 start up procedure? Some pilots are about to leave on a bombing mission."

"That sounds spiffing. Let's see that."

Hotdog leads the Officer over to a team of pilots standing ready at a B17. Introductions are made, and after much saluting they disperse to their stations ready for the startup procedure.


Hotdog surveys the team, "All stations ready?"

"AYE SIR!" they chorus

"Very well. Commence primary ignition sequence," he commands.

Kilroy leans forward in the cockpit and activates a few buttons, "Primary ignition sequence initiated."

Dartls suddenly leans forward and taps a dial. "Hotdog? I'm getting some fluctuation in the fuel flow indicators."

"Analysis Dartls?"

"Not sure at this time, it's probably nothing."

"Savvey? Any feed back at your end."

"Negative sir, Ö ahhh, hold on." He checks a couple of dials. "I have a slight wobble in the left fuel flow indicator that is also affecting the primary firing sequence. It's probably nothing, but I'm going to adjust the Mixture control to compensate."

"It's not responding," replied Kilroy looking worried.

"Continuing to adjust mixture control."

"It's not responding I tell you!" replied Kilroy, now very alarmed.

"Get a grip on yourself Kilroy," says Hotdog firmly. "Savvey, can you switch to the auxiliary generator?"

"Perhaps, in theory, at least, it's possible to -"

"My God! The dials have just gone off the scale!" yells Dartls and starts pounding at various buttons seemingly at random.

"I'm predicting 45 seconds to catastrophic engine failure," calls Glars

"Savvey we need more power out of that generator!" yells Hotdog.

"I'm givin' 'er all I can Hootdog. She cannah take much more o' this."

"Thirty seconds to total engine failure," intones Glars

"I've got blowback in the exhaust system," calls Carrot "We're gonna lose it!"

"Steady lads," calls Hotdog "Savvey get me more power!"

"The compression dial has just reached the red zone," yells Carrot.

"Twenty seconds to engine failure."

"Carrot, bypass the auxiliary generator and patch in the primary with the over ride control."

"But sir! That could blow out the entire - "

"Fifteen seconds to total engine failure."

"Damn it, I'll take that risk! Bypass it! Thatís a direct Order"

"Ten seconds to engine failure. We're all going to die you know."

"Bypassing auxiliary and patching now sir!"

"Five seconds to engine failure."

There is a dramatic pause, and then the propeller on number one engine of the B17 starts to turn. With a lazy hrrump the engine coughs into life, quickly followed by the other three.

"Ignition completed sir," calls Kilroy with a sigh of relief.

"Good job crew."

The dignitaries give a polite round of applause and follow Hotdog back to the mess room. Meanwhile, out back in the other hangars, the rest of the squad out of sight of the dignitaries are starting the other B17 engines by the simple expedient of pushing the large red start button. Ten minutes later, as the Top Brass watch out the window, a flight of five B17's thunder down the runway and lumber into the air.

Several hours pass and the Top Brass and hangers on are wined and dined by Hotdog and a few of his men. The usual small talk is exchanged and tales exaggerated. Raucous laughter ensues from jokes that aren't that funny. Hands wave through the air as pilots describe impossible maneuvers.

Then, in an aside to Hotdog, the Top Brass asks a question, "Err, could you tell me where the facilities are?"

"Which facilities would those be sir? The engine bay? The -"

"No! The, you know, facilities. Drunk a bit to much dontcha know."

"Sir, yes sir. Second door on the left, outside, and down in the back garden. Do you require one of my men to hold or wipe anything sir?"

"No, no. I'll be fine," and Top Brass wanders out the door.

Carrot wanders up to Hotdog. "It's time for the bombing demo now. Just got word that the 17's are lining up on the target at 25,000 feet."

"Roger that Carrot, thanks," says Hotdog, and then he turns to the visitors, "Ladies and Gentlemen, if you would like to come out front there will shortly be a precision bombing run demonstration by one of my pilots. He is currently lined up on the target and cruising at 25,000 feet. Live ammo will be used in this demonstration."

With an excited murmuring the visitors hustle outside and stand on the balcony.

"You will notice that small building on the far side of the runway. That is the target for today's demonstration."

Far off in the distance and high in the sky a speck appears. It drones quietly across the base. There is a pause as the visitors watch the target.

"Hotdog, did you tell Kilroy to track down the left or the right of the runway?" asks Carrot quietly.

"Don't be silly Carrot, I said the left. Yes, I'm sure I said the left."


An enormous explosion erupts behind the main mess building. Startled quests turn around and quickly run through to the opposite side of the building. Where the long drop used to be is now a large smelly crater.

"Hmmm, maybe I did say right after all."

On the edge of everybody's hearing a sound quickly builds to a high pitched scream and out of the sky falls the long drop building. It crashes to the ground just in front of everyone and the walls and roof collapse until just the toilet seat and the occupant are left. Top Brass is looking decidedly the worse for wear and definitely needs a new pair of trousers.

"Well, there goes the funding for another year," says Carrot as Hotdog is seen running rapidly away with Top Brass hard on his heels.