Neil Cameron McKinnon was one of those people that you were unlikely ever to forget.
At Locking, he discovered a special form of logic known only to RAF flight sergeants. Neil was informed that swinging one’s arms was required when marching to work, from the wooden billets to the training blocks. A major problem occurred one day when Neil was not swinging his right arm and the flight sergeant of the day wanted to know why. A keen rugby player, Neil had broken a bone & his arm was in a sling. To the alert mind of the discipline keeper, broken arms in slings could & should be swung. Neil was put on a charge after reflecting vocally on the parentage of the flight sergeant in question.
Neil enjoyed postings to Conningsby, Kuching, Wyton, Wildenrath & Bassingbourne and for a long time continued his hobby of aircraft spotting. Notebook in hand, our spotter could be seen looking for just about anything that flew. He recorded the type of aircraft, it’s number, location, condition & so on.
Some years later, I asked how the encyclopaedia was progressing & a disgruntled Neil explained that, “Some swine had invented a database”.
At Wyton, we discovered a fascinating way to empty our bank accounts & took up rallying.
As a rally navigator, Neil excelled at reading road maps and stage instructions. Imagine a list of many dozens of instructions; turn left, straight on, turn right etc. drawn in a straight line. Now take the ends of the line & put them together to form a circle. At the start of such a stage, cars that normally left at one-minute intervals were all parked while the navigators tried to work out where to start since the first direction to take was buried along with hundreds of others in the circular map . We always set off immediately because by the time the first decision was needed, Neil had figured out how to read the complicated circular map.
A minor handicap for a rally navigator was an uncertainty as to how to say the direction of a bend or turn. “Hairpin right” or, “30 flat left blind” but it was up to to the driver to understand because sometimes Neil said left & meant it and he would sometimes say right when he meant right. Unfortunately, this was not always the case & he would frequently say the opposite. A minor hesitation in saying the direction would somehow enable me to turn in the the direction he meant to say. In many thousands of competitive miles, I only got it wrong once & smashed the car into a brick wall. As Neil pointed out on several occasions, it was his side of the car parked in the wall.
We shared the same Goon Show humour & were as close as brothers. The example of knowing when right meant left is the best example I can find to illustrate this.
Neil will be greatly missed by his wife Barbara, daughters Lesley & Karen, the grandchildren, his dog and me.