came the time at the end of the technical conversion to
the 707 when the 'walk around' of the airframe took place,
it being in the form of an inquisition of the machine's
finer points; both meaningful and arcane.
All its nooks and crannies were required to be explained
to one's inquisitor, and if one could throw in some technical
data during the discussion, (i.e. 'hydraulic fluid? You
mean the MIL H 56-06?') etc, one would generally be left
alone at that point as being up to scratch.
One final query, almost as an afterthought, was along the
lines of "Oh yes… before we go, where's the Slender Rice
Now the 707s, both the 'fighter' and the 'bomber', had,
as their interior trim design, depictions of Australian
wildflowers on the side panels, replicated on each panel.
I recall the 'flannel flower', 'black wattle' and, of course,
the 'slender rice flower', which, as luck would have it,
coincided with the window cut-out in each panel; leaving
only its name as proof of it once existing. This meant that
on both sides of the aircraft one saw no depiction of the
Except for the very rear port door area, where one of the
windows had not been required, probably the last one aft,
and there in all its glory was a pristine SRF. This was
the site to answer the loaded question!
Prior to my day of examination for the 1st Class
endorsement, (1966), I had been crawling around one of our
machines undergoing maintenance in the hangar at Mascot,
and all the furnishings and fittings had been removed for
a major overhaul. And what did I find but a second SRF,
again on the port side, but this time up behind the front
coat closet. Pure gold!
Came the time for the dreaded question, and I was able to
counter his query with something along the lines of 'which
one do you want? The one up the front or the one down the
My inquisitor was kind enough to concede the point.
p.s. The bomber, the 338c, being longer, had not two but
three of these elusive little flowers. The aircraft
as initially operated had a main deck cargo compartment
on the port side, just aft of the front entry door and running
several feet aft to the wing leading edge. It was balanced
on the starboard side with a small lounge, seating about
six, for the enjoyment of the first class passengers, but
a focal point for positioning crewmembers shortly after
When the time came for a similar nuts 'n' bolts checkout,
when completing my command in '69, I blew my inquisitor
away when challenged, by retorting 'which of the three SRFs
would you like?'.
Game, set and match!