The Comet 4C - Metal Fatigue & My PC Sync CordMonday, August 29, 2016
In 1959 I was getting ready to go back to St. Ed’s High School in Austin. We were still in Mexico City so my mother decided as a surprise to book me into a Mexicana de Aviación flight to San Antonio. From there I was to take a Greyhound Scenicruiser to Austin. The surprise was that the airplane in question was a de Havilland Comet 4C which was the first jet airliner to come into service. In my mother’s bargain was a brand new US silver Dollar. The idea was for me to attempt to balance it on my seat tray. Because the jet had no vibration from piston engines the coin was not supposed to fall. It didn’t.
The story of the de Havilland Comet involves many crashes from previous models due to the unresolved stresses and perhaps metal fatigue.
I have always wanted to leave this world vaporized in midflight in an airplane. This would save Rosemary money on a burial and perhaps a windfall of money care of the airline and my life insurance. Unfortunately Comets are not in service anymore and flying is pretty safe.
In my years as a magazine photographer I learned very early the rules of the successful game:
1. Show up on time. This meant casing the joint on another day so as to avoid surprises.
2. Make appointment with magazine subjects on the phone without insulting them.
3. Leave with one useable image. This always meant that equipment had to work and that backup stuff was readily available.
Of all the failures that I almost had or had, but I had backup ready, the worst offender was the PC cord. This cord connects the camera’s PC outlet to the flash. The design of the PC cord comes from the first electronic flashes invented in the 50s. The design was never really modified.
In the picture you see here there is that odd little brass tool. This tool (almost impossible to find in this century) squeezes the end of the PC cord so that it will be snug and make a connection that will not fail. Notice the PC tip has a slit on the side. It has one on the other side. Nobody has ever bothered to use metal that will not eventually fail due to metal fatigue. At the end of the slit, eventually you get a tear at a 90 degree to the slit. No matter how many times you may attempt to reform the tip with my snazzy brass tool the cord will fail. And you will get that horrible statement from your subject:
“Your flash did not flash.”
I have two of these PC cords right now and both have experienced metal fatigue. I wonder if the British make any of these and with their Comet experience would they work longer?