This is another in a periodic series on our childhood in Port Elizabeth. In this episode Blaine relates an incident of which I was blissfully unaware until this morning. How is that possible if we lived in the same house?
Main picture: Ferguson TE 20 “Vaaljapie”
There can be little doubt that Port Elizabeth offers some superb opportunities for the ill-advised youths in Port Elizabeth to partake in speed related challenges. Needless to say, my brother Blaine has finally revealed some incidents in his ill-spent youth in which he might have met his maker long before his allotted three score and ten years.
Main picture: Blaine’s Yamaha which was the crux of Blaine’s follies
I can still recall my Rocket Scientist brother, as Blaine has always been known to me, recounting how he had to design both this airborne antenna but also the survivability test. This would ensure that it could withstand a bird impacting the plane at 250 kph. I found that story fascinating. Fortunately he has agreed to share that detail with me again. What I found particularly fascinating was that various products of Omnipless ‘shook the world.’
Sadly with transformation and BEE being the drivers of the ANC’s economic policies, factors such customer satisfaction or indeed world-class products have become a distant third or forth consideration rather than having primacy. Dean McCleland
Written by Blaine McCleland:
I came across this article below in fin24.com. I did the mechanical design of that antenna and all the mechanical and environmental qualifications. This was the aircraft HGA (High Gain Antenna) which provides radio telephony (and internet services nowadays) to the geosynchronous Inmarsat satellites.
Main picture: The HGA [High Gain Antenna] 7001 with its proud Production Manager
In what can only be described as having extremely high aspirations by competing in the Big Boys league, Omnipless tenders on and is awarded a contract perhaps under false pretenses. This was SHUCS or SpaceHab Universal Communication System with the ultimate customer being NASA.
Much of what they committed to would require extraordinary effort. With little capital or knowledge about engineering equipment for conditions in space, any snags, glitches or deviations from plan could financially cripple Omnipless.
This is the story of a bunch of intrepid South African engineers who beat the odds and met their target albeit by a narrow margin. It had been a close-run thing.
Main picture: SHUCS finally in space: The antenna is in a roughly horizontal attitude on top of a positioner, on top of a Spacehab module at the back of the Shuttle cargo bay.
One day when I was in about standard 4 Mom decided that she needed a spoon rest while she was cooking. I asked her what it was and I said that I would make her one, in fact I would make her a double one. She described it as having a concave part where the bowl of the spoon could lie and a raised bit at the back for the handle. With these scanty design specifications, I went to work. I incorporated the technical features and added some customisation of my own. After a few days of cutting, filing and sanding pieces of fruit case wood, I produced my masterpiece piece
Main picture: Lost in Translation
This blog just comprises vignettes written by my brother mainly to prove that despite his intelligence, he had a normal upbringing. What is singularly important is that he experienced the same anxieties, boredom and surprises as the rest of us. Only now after 50 years have I finally heard about Blaine’s entanglement with the law. What an admission. I never knew a thing. This is a random collection of Blaine’s musings of a life in a different age, an age of innocence and discovery. This is Blaine’s story.