Imagine a small piece of any mechanism that is so crucial that it failure spells catastrophe. Yikes! How would you call such a thing? It doesn’t matter, so long as it serves its purpose, you’re good. If not… well, catastrophe comes knocking at the door. Dear friends, ever heard about the “Jesus Nut?”
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What’s A Jesus Nut?
Jesus Nut has little in common to do with Jesus Christ. Its a fist-size steel part used in certain types of aircrafts. Every field of service has its own pretty fancy technical vocabulary, but this one is way off the charts. It is widely used in literature, however, its origin is quite murky. The term is believed to have been created by soldiers during the Vietnam War. The name was so befitting since the object in question was so important.
The slang term is technically known as the main rotor retaining nut, Jesus Nut is quite literally what it says it is — a nut. Obviously. This nut plays an important role in helicopters — its responsible for holding the main rotor of the propeller to the mast. Soldiers really have a good sense of humor when naming, but with this one, there’s no fun in that.
Whence Cometh Jesus Nut?
The exact author is unknown, but legend has it that one officer asked an aircraft mechanic what would happen if that piece fell off during flight. Well, the answer was pretty simple, “pray to Jesus.” We guess, cause that’s what you be screaming, “Oh Jesus,” in such a critical situation. Failure of the Jesus nut means that the main rotor is off the mast; without it, the chopper is just falling all the way to the earth like an empty container. Bam! However, this catastrophic scenario is incredibly rare.
The slang word has featured in several works of literature about experiences during and after the Vietnam War — including ‘Chickenhawk’ by Robert Mason. It even became a technical name for any important part of a device that its failure was detrimental. As an honor of respect, and due to such a crucial part it plays in helicopters, it later became a good way to pay respect to retiring officers which was given as a present.
Save Us Lord ‘Jesus Nut’
Nowadays, modern helicopters don’t require a Jesus Nut anymore. There are several different means of fixing the main rotor to the mast. However, the slang word is now a household name, and people generally use the term for other crucial mechanical components. For instance, the first piece of protection placed on a pitch used in rock climbing is also called (you guessed it) Jesus Nut. It seems the name of Jesus Christ is indeed a savior, after all.
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Written by: Nana Kwadwo, Wed, Jan 19, 2022.