The long hot summer


There have been many comparisons between the current hot spell and the summer of 1976 when we had 8 weeks of high temperatures.

The trouble is I wasn’t in the country at that time, I was stationed in RAF Germany in 1976 and it was even hotter there. We coped. We had no air con, anywhere, especially not in cars; only the big Mercs and no one could afford one of them babys. I was on a Harrier squadron and three times a year we went into a training area, usually in woods to practice what the Harrier did best; jump up, kill some tanks or other aircraft then land in a clearing, fuel up, load up with weapons and go again. That is a very simplified version of what we did.

The ‘middle’ trip we did was in the middle of July and bloody hell it was hot. So hot that we were trying to figure out a way to cool our beer. We had a free 24 hours in the middle of the deployment, so our boss decided the best way to cool the beer was to use lox (liquid oxygen) which came out of its container at -50°C. Our boss got himself kitted out in all the safety gear when handling lox, we put the cans of beer into a plastic bag with water, then the boss squirted Lox into the bag so when it hit the water it turned it into blocks of ice, making the beer cans ice cold. Other teams looked on in envy as we stroked a finger down the side of the can and they could see the condensation dripping off the can. They were forced to drink warm beer, ours was nice and cold.

The down side was that the lox was kept in 50 litre containers which were highly insulated and mounted on a wheeled trolly. We picked up five lox trollies in turn from the supply area to cool our beer down that weekend and some admin guy afterwards questioned why we had used 5 lox trollies in one weekend. It’s easy to explain said the boss: the lox system in the aircraft were venting due to the excess temperatures of 30° C and we need to keep the lox system topped up in case of a quick launch of the aircraft. The admin guy never compared our team to others in a similar situation, or that their aircraft weren’t venting Lox, at all. Nobody ever asked for any money for the lox which was about £150 per full trolly from memory. So 5 x 150 = £750 was spent in one weekend cooling our beer (at 1976 prices). Hope nobody wants the lox costs paid back after all these years.

So in the vernacular of Crocodile Dundee, ‘call 2022 a hot summer? This (1976) was a hot summer.’ I’ll get me coat.

About cliverh

Retired aerospace engineer, first with the Royal Air Force and then BAE Systems. Now enjoying a variety of activities and not getting bored. I was a Games Maker Volunteer at the London 2012 Olympics and a volunteer at the Rugby World Cup 2015 in England. I was also a volunteer at the 2019 Cricket World Cup in Southampton. I intend to blog about what interests me.
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