With Thanks to 12249 Terry Wood
It was a dark and stormy night on the 13th of October 1977 … okay not really – it was actually quite a nice but cool late evening, as six intrepid III year members of 4 Squadron, under cover of darkness, gathered stealthily around the base of the Memorial Arch – 12249 Terry Wood, 12207 Kevin McCarthy, 12218 Wayne Murray, 12357 Steve Zuber, 12154 Mark Beaulieu, and 12114 Brian Pitman. In a moment of inspiration, Brian had concocted a “cunning plan” to help put their Squadron on the RMC map – to get their 15 minutes of fame. The idea was “simple” enough in concept – climb the vertical face of the Arch, in the middle of a dark night and paint the Squadron number on the top – oh, and then get down again.
That night, as they stood at the base staring straight up at the stone facing of this very imposing structure, the task suddenly seemed a lot more intimidating than they had originally envisioned! Undaunted, they each took a deep breath, and said okay, let’s do this. After a few tries, they managed to toss a ball attached to a length of twine over the top of the Arch and down the other side. A much stronger rope was then attached and pulled up and over. Terry Wood, a wrestler with the necessary arm and leg strength, had “volunteered” to be the one to scale the wall, so the one end of the rope was tightly secured to his waist. Then with a tug, the team on the other side of the Arch drew the rope taught, allowing him to start the slow climb upwards. That process was even more effective than planned, since after the first third of the journey, they found they were also able to help pull him up rather than just adjusting and keeping the rope tight so he could continue the climb. That was all great, until Terry reached the summit and realized not only that the team could not see him but also that he was still being pulled – only a “high-pitched” and rather urgent yell from him averted an “undesired” outcome. Once on top, the painting supplies were brought up and from there the “chef-d’oeuvre” was completed. Fortunately, and thankfully, the trip down was uneventful. A couple of days later, on the 15th, Kevin who had his private pilot’s license rented a plane and with Terry flew over and took photographic evidence of their daring deed. That photograph quickly became the talk of not only the Wing but also the College and made the front page of the RMC newspaper, appropriately named The Arch!
Class Note: As sometimes seems to be the case, there are the usual naysayers who find reasons to be critical of certain skylarks, invariably grounded in a certain envy of the initiative. As it turns out, their own CSL who was an engineer, feared possible damage from the paint, a concern that was later determined to be unfounded. Even the CSM was concerned enough to order that their stellar work be covered up with stones. In reality, the legend of the really good ones only tend to grow over time, as evidenced by the inclusion of this one in the annals of RMC that has been posted online – accuracy seem less important that the originality of the skylark.