Big Bang

by John Houghton


At the last windtunnel get-together, I was asked if I could remember any event or occurrence that may be of interest to fellow tunnelers.

One thing that stuck in my mind was what I shall call "THE BIG BANG".  Not to be confused with the creation of the universe, but something that happened during a short period while working in the Four Foot tunnel.

I was working in the model preparation area alongside the tunnel which had its large working section access door fully open.  There were several others working in the vicinity, but who exactly they were I cannot unfortunately remember.  I was working with my back to the tunnel so my memories of this incident are all related to what I heard.

The first sound was a high pitched whine combined with a noise similar to that made when running a finger nail down the teeth of a steel comb.  This was the precursor to what immediately followed, which was a bang so loud that it was stunning in its effect.  When I said earlier that the experience was related to what I heard, that is not entirely true.  It was also one of feeling as the body absorbed the vibrations, both airborne and through the soles of the feet.

Turning to see what had happened, it was not immediately obvious until noticing that the tunnel door was now in the closed position having stripped the thread from the drive shaft that raised and lowered the door.

Looking back it was remarkable that no one was hurt, several people having only recently been working in the area of the open door.  I am sure that others with better memories and technical knowledge of the incident will be able to add to what I have contributed.

March 2003

. . . so, will anyone who can add to this story (or who knows any further
details, such as the date) please email