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"Optimism (light) is the power that ultimately defeats fear (darkness)."

Friday, December 09, 2005


Crew Chiefs LOVE? Parked on Echo 4!

OK, I didn't intend for this to be a photo-blog today, but, this just brought back way too many memories.


(I hope A1C Caleb Pangborn doesn't mind me using his photo!)

If there ever was a tighter bond, it is between a plane and her Crew Chief! I have to tell you, there are sooo many times I can remember these sorts of conversations ...

Late at night, swing shift, cold and rainy, I'm on my back trying to remove the radome for the Doppler Nav antenna, flippin' speed handle is wet and the fasteners are being buggers (you Herc folks, you know the deal), and a head pops down with a big grin:
"Hey, can I help? She's gotta go in about 3 or so hours."

"I'm almost there - R-Square the antenna, quick check, she'll be ready ..." {grunt - screech - another bad fastener}

"It doesn't sound so good under there - how many?" (they always ask - there's an acceptable number of bad fasteners, and it's tight!)

"Uhhh, you better call sheet metal ..." (I hate this part, 'cause I know it's gonna blow his whole shift!)

"No problem - they owe me. And, hey, they're all in the chow hall right now, we're out here, and she's gotta go. I'll be back in a bit ..."

"OK, I'm crankin' on this as fast as I can."
Now, I'm pretty sure he was gone longer than it seemed. I swear I had just barely heard his boots going away from our parking spot! Then, here's that big grin again, and behind it is a speed handle and another crawler (great for races, when you're bored!) ...
"Move over - I'll take the aft side and we'll meet in the middle."

"You don't have to help - I am sure there's more stuff you need to do. Really."

"Hey, if they can't tell where they are going and where they are now, who cares what else is busted - it's all a wash! Drift into East German airspace ain't pretty, ya know?!"

['nother big grin!]

"Alright. Makes this go faster, that's for sure!"

"Hey, why don't you get crankin' on the antenna, and I'll just keep up on these. Maybe by the time sheet metal gets here, you can be ready to do the Ops Check ..."

"Great idea. This won't take long to R-Square."
Moments later, I'm not the only one worrying. I can hear as he is getting closer and closer to the end of his run, there is a bunch of "brass" on the tarmac. Damned if he didn't start pre-clearing all the holes for sheet metal!!! I've got the antenna out and am coming back with the new one.

Next thing ya know, sheet metal is here, looking around and kinda annoyed - then they see me. I'm kinda a bad omen for these guys. Every time I get under a '130' in ISO Docks, they sorta, cringe. There's more brass on the ground than at a live fire range full of Airborne Guys! That just means lots-O-work, in a small space on your back, and the tools are heavy and flat out not very cooperative all the time.

The reason I'm so tough on these fasteners? There was a crew that had a rapid depressurization, in flight, and there was a mishap. Just so happens that the Doppler Radome wasn't the prime culprit, but when it popped a few other things went bad. I'd hate to be inflight if that happened to me, and since I'm on the ground all the time, I won't let it happen to anyone else.

Turns out, the Chief and I were on the same wavelength - he knew who I was, too. His '130' was not going on a mission and have a failure either - no way!

From that moment on, it was like a well oiled machine. I did a quick check, which only made them have to stand around for about 20 minutes. This at least gave me the assurance that the antenna was good - full ASN-35 checks and such could wait until they finished.

As soon as sheet metal was gone, he and I buttoned her up, I fired up all systems, and in under 90 minutes we had all of this stuff done. Not earth shattering times, like at Red Flag, but hey, we worked together.

And that is ultimately the point, isn't it? When you truly love something, you'll do anything. All of us were for the mission. All of us had our jobs to do. We loved what we do ...

The Crew Chief - it's all about that Girl on Echo 4!


Stay Tuned to ...

4 Comments:

At 12/11/2005 04:57:00 PM, Blogger GunnNutt said...

Sometimes it pays to be anal about details. I liked this "flashback"!

 
At 12/12/2005 02:35:00 AM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

I know - that story always stuck with me. Then, when I was stationed at Beale AFB, and heard what the flight profile was like for SR-71 and U-2 pilots - I became VERY particular.

I need to dig up more flashbacks. I was in a hurry to get more Christmas lights in the front yard. This memory wouldn't let go and I had to keep typing.

Glad you like it!

 
At 12/27/2005 09:17:00 PM, Blogger Buck Pennington said...

Good 'un, Steve.

A mini-story: the last thing my Old Man told me as I was getting on the plane for Lackland was "stay away from aircraft!"

I never knew what he really meant until I became friends with some aircraft maintainers late in life. You guys got a lot of job satisfaction, to be sure. But there never was a flightline that was anything but too hot or too cold, to say the least! :-)

 
At 12/27/2005 11:46:00 PM, Blogger LinkedInUSAF said...

Buck, too true! I remember being in the 55th AMS and working the E-4A/B (the 747 mobile command post). One freezing winter night in Omaha, my trainer and I were out OpsChecking a system. To keep warm I manned the "light test" switch on the panels. Flashing those a few times prior to the AGE ground heater showing up - yeah, it worked! :)

 

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