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The E-Sylum:  Volume 10, Number 27, July 8, 2007, Article 22

STEPPING THE MAST COIN CUSTOM TAKES TO THE SKIES

Dick Johnson writes: "If you are an aircraft mechanic raise your
hand. I don't see many hands raised among E-Sylum readers. This
story is about a 75-year-old (best guess) custom with Lincoln cents.
Even though I have collected and written about Lincoln cents for
almost an equal time (68 of those 75 years) this story is new to me.

"The custom is to place a Lincoln cent -- which automatically becomes
a 'lucky penny' and extending that luck to every thing it touches --
on the engine of an airplane.  Specifically, one kind of aircraft
engine, Pratt & Whitney engines, which are manufactured here in
Connecticut.

"It seems the mechanics who make these engines place a Lincoln cent
of the current year on every one made. When an engine is restored or
overhauled at some later date, the mechanic has the option of
retaining the original cent bearing the date of manufacture, or,
use one of the current year.

"A contributing writer for Aircraft Maintenance Technology magazine,
Giacinto Bradly Koontz, wrote an article, published this week, where
the writer wanted to track down the origin of this curious custom
and how long this has been going on. Learning the answer wasn't easy.

"The best guess would be the 1930s, since the 'engine pennies' were
found on one type of engine, R1340 WASP, which was first manufactured
in 1940. One mechanic the author interviewed listed two other engines
in which the custom could have started.

"An aircraft owner stated he picked up the custom from a crop duster,
who wouldn't think of flying without a penny on his own P&W. 'It's
just one of those things some of us do, but probably don't know why.'
He speculated it could be placed there to signify the last overhaul,
like a date stamp. Other mechanics said they did it because their
fathers and grandfathers did. The custom continues today. Fly safely!"

[The lengthy article relates the custom to the ancient shipbuilding
custom of placing a coin under the mast in a ceremony called Stepping
the Mast.  We've written about this in previous E-Sylums. -Editor]

To read the complete article, see: Full Story

 NAVAL COIN CUSTOM IN THE NEWS: STEPPING THE SHIP'S MAST
 esylum_v10n11a26.html

 UPCOMING JAEGER ARTICLE ON STEPPING THE MAST
 esylum_v10n12a19.html

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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