It's January 12th and Jeremy Davey has just phoned. 'Er - Richard we are halfway into January and there is no Update!' We have a running joke with Jeremy where all my failings get put down to Operator Error. This is computerspeak for those all too often occasions when the sheer brilliance of the software shows up the inadequacies of the all too human keyboard plonker. Please accept my apologies - yet another example of the dreaded Operator Error....
December was an extraordinary month. We had had to abandon the desert on the 27th November because of the huge floods - there was no way that kind of water would dry up overnight. 'You must come back in March' was the message from General Mamoun - 'March is a good month - not too hot and no sandstorms'. There was also talk of extending the track to enable faster speeds.
HeavyLift were as obliging as ever, but because of European labour disputes their aircaft were occupied ferrying goods across the Channel - we would have to wait until December 15th. Most generously Royal Jordanian came to our help and offered to fly the entire team home - thus giving everyone a decent period of rest before ThrustSSC came home and work restarted. 'We will see you again next year?' Munib Toukan of RJ had said. 'Yes with your support,' I had promised.
We left a team of five behind to look after ThrustSSC and the equipment and they flew home in the Antonov on the 15th. It was the same aircraft we had flown out in - and the huge fuselage Thrust Sticker created by Roger McCann was still attached just below the cockpit windows.
Frankly with the Jordan runs finished, I was looking forward to coming home and having a break. I can't remember when we last had a day's break and most people were seriously tired having been living on adrenilin and hope for far too long.
But we were in for a shock. Thrust was run from my home - and the office boasts 4 phone lines most of which are connected to faxes. The volume of faxes was indescribable as our house sitter was asked simply to reload the machines when they ran out. But it was good news - a very high proportion of them were orders off the internet and that meant more funds. It took Sally Noble three solid weeks to get the orders away for Christmas - it was a great start, and a valuable contribution to our very depleted funds. And the entire stock of Nick Allen glasses went - which was very pleasing as there always has to be doubt when you introduce a new product. And there was one very special letter from Paul Tittle at Mitsubishi - please get in touch to discuss the 1997 sponsorship.......
There was another major problem - thanks to our friends at Farnborough we had been able to use Q Shed until December 31st. But now Farnborough is becoming a success as a business aviation centre with the executive jets movements building strongly. British Aerospace needed Q Shed for aircraft hangarage - and we were to be homeless.
But help was around the corner - there was just a possibility that we could have P8 Shed which was lying unused. This would be a miracle - it would give us plenty of clean space. As a tremendous gesture British Aerospace offered to pick up the lease and we could move in before Christmas. P8 Shed is everything we could possibly ask for, it's got huge heated workshop space, space for Mach 1 Club presentations and sponsor dinners - even space for Jeremy Davey. But best of all it has offices which means that everyone can be housed under the same roof. For once the communication is going to improve.
But first it had to be cleaned and we made the move in four frantic days before Christmas. It was a huge job - but the workshop is now superb - and its warm...
So now we can really get a move on... and the plan is very simple:
The team has slimmed down now that the car build is finished and the contractors Dean Smith, Jason Davies, Joe Fuga and Chris Horne have now moved on - back into their industries.
We have just two months - and there is one more hurdle - British Industry doesn't start work again until Jan 6th.
Over in Rio Vista Craig Breedlove is rebuilding - he says he is going to be operational in the Spring - but where? Rosco McGlashan should be out on Gairdner but is facing funding difficulty - I know just how he must feel.
I remember looking forward to January with a mixture of excitement and trepidation. Its all very well creating these plans - but can we really make the money fast enough to carry them out? Any sane financial adviser will tell you that it can't be done. But then I just remembered that last year we completed a 75,000 man hour jet car - and there were all those smart people then who said it would never be finished.
Working 7 days a week there are just 60 days to go........
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