wound out the trailing wireless aerial

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Senior Member
This is an extract from the novel A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson. The story is set in World War 2. They are flying a Halifax bomber.

Once they were in the air there were no idle moments, all that gloomy introspection that could take hold on the ground disappeared. The flight engineer was kept busy synchronizing the engines, calculating fuel stocks, changing petrol tanks. The IFF was switched on to identify them as friend rather than foe to the RAF’s own fighters. The spark wound out the trailing wireless aerial and the navigator put his head down, working on accurate fixes, comparing the actual winds to those forecast.

Would you like to explain the meaning of wound out the trailing wireless aerial to me? I understand the meaning of wireless aerial but what does wound out and trailing mean in this case?

Thank you.
  • Barque

    The spark (often addressed or referred to as "Sparks") is the radio operator.
    sparks (WR dictionary): (used with a sing. v.) a radio operator on a ship or aircraft.

    Edit: Sorry if you knew this already - just realised it wasn't part of the phrase you asked about.

    He wound out (unwound) the wireless (the radio) aerial. I assume it trailed out or dangled from the body of the aircraft.

    I understand the meaning of wireless aerial
    It doesn't mean an aerial without a wire if that's what you were thinking. It's the aerial of a wireless.


    Senior Member
    English (UK then US)
    Wind has several meanings :) In this case
    • to wrap, coil, or twine around (something):[~ + object]winding thread on a spool. (p.p. wound)
    The aerial in this case is a felxible wire that extends from the back of the plane out behind it (it trails behind the plane, suspended/hanging in the air held up by the wind). It is stored inside the plane coiled on a spool where it can be wound in and out of the plane.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    To communicate a long distance they needed a longer antenna (aerial) than would fit inside the plane.
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