True Story No21


Is it safe to jump sarge?…..hang on a mo…No!

A good few years ago the company I worked for designed a special detector called P7.

It could easily have been mistaken for a large yard brush because it had a long pole for the handle and a wide cylindrical head at the business end housing the detector coils.

Fixed to the top of the handle was a metal box containing the electronics and batteries.

The detector was used for looking for a specific type of "ordnance" and we sold several hundred of them.

We didn't make a lot of money from the machine until about a year later.

We started to get special re-design tasks, basically to strengthen the equipment.

P7 started to get pretty heavy as the handle got beefed up, the bottom bracket holding the search head was made stronger and so on.

This went on and on with the materials changing progressively from a form of paxolin, getting thicker and thicker and eventually to stainless steel.

Along with the design jobs, which were handy to have as they kept engineers in employment, came orders for replacement handles. Thousands of these were made and delivered to our customer and as a result a reasonable amount of money ended up in the company's coffers.

A few years later, in conversation with a young soldier, we found out why they wanted all these spare handles.

The equipment was usually deployed on demand, as it were.

This involved travel by helicopter to a particular place and on arrival there was no time to hang around.

Out jumped the soldiers and out came the detectors.

After a number of these trips the soldiers had found to their cost that it wasn't always that easy to judge the height of a helicopter above the ground, immediately before one jumped out.

To avoid sprained ankles and worse a simple expedience was adopted.

Chuck out P7.

If the handle stayed attached jump out!

If it broke off, wait a moment and then chuck another out.

Hence we used to get a lot of orders for new handles!

I don't know how far you could chuck one of the latest stainless steel types but I guess the newest design bounced before the soldiers did.

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