The Massive Visit

by Clive Russell

One of the duties of a Section Leader was to show visitors around the Wind Tunnel and surroundings, with a suitable display of models and display cards laid on.  These visitors came from a wide range of possible origins, nationalities and backgrounds, so the visit had to be appropriately stage-managed.

For instance, when enduring one of the regular visits by Royal Aeronautical Establishment Research monitors, it was best to ensure that there would be no "gratuitous information", as RD said, or in other words  "Tell 'em as little as possible", but generally a lot of trouble was taken to provide an interesting tour around our special corner of 25 hangar.

Display cards were placed around the route, the tunnel crew warned to be ready for inspection and as many cleaned-up old models as could be found arranged on trestle-tables.  A microphone was available but rarely used, even though the dreaded Mech Test Dept sledge-hammer fanatic was often to be heard nearby, presumably straightening out the result of their latest metal-bending test.  (A deafening clanging sound always seemed to coincide with attempts to deliver any enlightening explanatory lecture. Hence the hoarseness next day.)

A particularly memorable visit took place sometime during the 70's, except that the usual setting-up message came through by phone from Sales/Publicity Dept one morning without the few days warning that was customary.  It said "Can you help us out?  We have a party of Eighty Sea-Cadets coming to Warton this morning, and need to entertain them!"

Panic stations all round.

Little time was available, and since the greatest number of visitors that one person could lead around and address effectively was about twenty at a time it meant that four separate guides and routes had to be organised PDQ.   The problem of marshalling such numbers without falling over each other was going to be tricky.   However, all concerned rose to the occasion, and we were ready for them on schedule.

They were rather late in arriving, luckily, as it gave time to polish up the exhibits, and the four guides were all ready and waiting at their allotted posts when the first of the expected horde appeared to arrive.

All eight of them.

ATC Cadets.

28 May 2002