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This is a question Darwin Awards

Bluffboy says: My mate cheated death and burned his eyebrows off looking down the barrel of a potato gun. Tell us about your brushes with the Grim Reaper through stupidity.

(, Thu 12 Feb 2009, 20:01)
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Not sure if this counts
Because it wasn't the fault of the person it happened to, but it'd certainly be a ridiculous reason to die.

My old maths teacher used to tell a few stories concerning the time he spent in the navy, and this one stuck in my mind:

Every so often (he said), the top brass would decide that things were getting a little slack below decks, and would decide an excercise was in order. This story concerns a gunnery excercise.

My teacher was a radar technician. His job was to cabilbrate the radar readings so that the guns would focus their fire onto one specific target.

(To go back a bit, I should describe the nature of this particular excercise. A small aircraft was detailed to fly by the ship several times, while trailing a large and radar-reflective target on a long wire behind it. It was this that the guns would aim at).

Unfortunately, my teacher was rather good at his job. So were all the other technicians.

So good, in fact, that the radar-guided guns didn't just register the target they were supposed to. They registered the wire it was attached to as well.

I should also point out here that the gun control rooms were deep in the ship - they couldn't see the plane or hear the pilot. This will become important shortly.

The shells from the guns started aiming at the wire. Slowly, slowly, slowly, they got closer toward the plane towing the target. When the pilot realised this, he radioed the ship to ask them to stop it before he was shot out of the sky by the guns (incidentally naval guns are fucking big - it dosen't take more than a few hits to take out a light aircraft so the pilot's concern is considerable by this point).

It was then that the second problem became apparent. You see, the command to cease fire is not quite that simple. There are procedures to be followed. For a start you never use the word "fire". That is reserved for the more serious occurance of something combusting onboard ship. The command used in this case is "shoot". To be certain that what you hear is what was meant, the command must be given clearly (by a person with the appropriate authority) three times. The relevant command here would be "stop shooting, stop shooting, stop shooting".

As I say, here is where the second problem came into play.

The chief petty officer in charge of this excercise had a stammer.

The more serious the situation with the plane got, the harder the officer tried to say the necessary words. And the more he stammered.

I'm informed that the pilot was hysterical, the officer was nearly unconscious and the shells were a few feet from the plane when someone higher up the chain of command was finally called in to give the order to stop...
(, Tue 17 Feb 2009, 2:27, 4 replies)
I like this.
I have clicked accordingly. I also believe the story, simply because my maths teachers have all been strange and interesting people. I realise that there is no logic here.
(, Tue 17 Feb 2009, 9:34, closed)
one of my maths teachers was a civil engineer
a bell-ringer and a morris dancer....

he had large nostrils which looked like torpedo tubes.

We used to call him Red October...
(, Tue 17 Feb 2009, 10:12, closed)
Good story...
...but almost certainly made up. The tow ropes on those things are long, really long (as in 3 or 4 km), so that the towing aircraft can be well out of range before the shooting starts. When it goes wrong it is because the shooting starts early, not because they are aiming in the wrong direction.

Still, what are teachers for if not for telling tall stories to impressionable youths?
(, Tue 17 Feb 2009, 14:42, closed)
I was suspicious too
But if you met the man, you probably wouldn't be. He's really not imaginitive enough to make stuff like this up.

P.S. he was getting on a bit - this would have happened in the late 60s or early 70s.
(, Tue 17 Feb 2009, 17:35, closed)

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