b3ta.com qotw
You are not logged in. Login or Signup
Home » Question of the Week » Winging It » Post 1918570 | Search
This is a question Winging It

Don Spang says: I once found myself winging it in a job interview and somewhat exaggerated my technical experience in the field of mainframe computer operations. 24 years later, I'm still there. Ever had to improvise to get by? Tell us you tales of MacGyver-type genius.

(, Thu 28 Mar 2013, 12:31)
Pages: Popular, 3, 2, 1

« Go Back

Winging it on the wing
Several years ago my wife, 2 kids, some friends and their two kids were happily sat on a Boeing 747 about to depart for some sunshine and silliness in Orlando. The plane took off without incident and we settled down to a long and expectedly dull flight whilst trying to entertain/contain our excited offspring.
This particular aircraft had those little screens on the back of the headrests from which you could choose from several different films etc. ideal I thought, that'll keep 'em occupied for a while, but 15 minutes into the flight the screens on the back of the chairs were still not working, they would play for a few seconds, freeze, then restart again. At that time I was employed as a 'TV engineer' which actually meant I worked in a back street repair shop. Feeling a little irked by complaints from my kids I asked a passing stewardess what was wrong with the screens "I am sorry sir but the system is playing up, we are working on it though and will hopefully get it resolved soon" I don't know why I said it but it just fell out of my mouth "well I'm a video engineer, I could have a look if you want!" she smiled, said nothing and whent on her way.
A few minutes later she came back and asked "you said you were a video engineer?" "yes" I gulped, "well if you wouldn't mind having a look I would be very grateful" What could I do! I tapped my friend on his shoulder and asked him to follow me (I needed some moral support) got up and followed her through first class to the business end of the plane. I was presented with a bank of 8mm video players which were stopping and starting all on their own, "They are controlled by this" she said and pointed at a small PC screen. I touched the keyboard beneath it and the screen asked for a password "it's BA***w" (edited) she said. I logged in and had not a clue as to what I was going to do next, there were now three crew watching me, I was beginning to sweat then my friend whispered in my ear "it's a computer, just turn it off and on again" brilliant i thought and did just that, selected log off, waited for the screen to go blank then turned of a big red power switch, waited a few moment then turned it back on again. At this point a phone that hung on the wall in the galley rang, it was the pilot asking what was going on, she said a passenger was an engineer and was looking at the video system, she looked at me and said "who do you work for sir?" urm.... "Sony" I said (I just chose the make of the video players they had) the discussion with the pilot continued and she was clearly being told off. However, turning the computer off and on again fixed the problem, I logged back in and the video players sprang to life and worked normally, disaster averted. I walked back to my seat a hero and to rounds of applause from the passengers.

We were given two bottles of champagne as a thank you, I did ask for an upgrade to first class but alas there were no seats left.

She did tell me though that if they could not get the system working they would have had to refund every passenger £25.00.

That's definetly one for my CV: fixing a Boeing 747 in flight :-)
(, Fri 29 Mar 2013, 22:58, 9 replies)
Thank fuck you didn't get rumbled, I suppose.
Though I don't think restarting their VCRs would have done much to the aeroplane guidance systems, I dread to think if someone had rung Sony and gone 'Hey, do any of your engineers know anything about planes?'

Well, maybe they would have gotten stuck in some kind of automated 'press 1 to be on hold for 10 minutes...' systems, I guess.
(, Fri 29 Mar 2013, 23:03, closed)
BA crew
Do I get a prize?
(, Fri 29 Mar 2013, 23:33, closed)
This must win.
Not only did he wing it he did it on the wing!
(, Fri 29 Mar 2013, 23:49, closed)
I much prefer that as a headline
So I changed it - cheers fella'
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 22:18, closed)
Give that man a banana

(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 8:32, closed)
That's a big block of text
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 1:05, closed)
Yeah... sorry about that.
I shall try to do better next time!
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 6:17, closed)

(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 6:21, closed)
I like this story
Particularly because the question is called 'Winging it' and you were on a plane
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 10:04, closed)
If turbulence had hit
Right at the exact moment you rebooted the PC I imagine you would have had brown trousers
(, Sat 30 Mar 2013, 19:29, closed)
What if there was more than the video equipment hooked up to that machine. It does not bear thinking about.
(, Mon 1 Apr 2013, 10:24, closed)
In fairness
Aircraft have more redundancy than Parliament and can survive failure of pretty much anything related to keeping it in the air. There's just no way they'd allow a shonky entertainment system to bring down anything related to guidance or avionics, just to save having an extra machine on deck.
(, Thu 4 Apr 2013, 9:26, closed)
That last line made me hoot
now my colleagues want to know what I'm working on.. oops.
(, Thu 4 Apr 2013, 9:27, closed)

« Go Back

Pages: Popular, 3, 2, 1