Saturday, March 29, 2008

It's not every day...

that a legend drops by.

The Beechcraft Starship was revolutionary in it's day and in some ways still is today.

The photos are of one of the 50 production models ever built. One of less than 20 still in existance. One of fewer than ten still flying.

They are all composite construction. (Including the wing which still isn't done today.) The "Glass Cockpit" was scary voodoo in the late '80s but is pretty standard today.(Glass cockpits are like TV screens instead of dial instruments.)

In typical Raytheon fashion, it was mismanaged. The first airplanes were launched at a time when aircraft sales were down all over. Couple that with the radical design and sales were flat. Add to that it was expensive. Numbers vary but say $5 million a copy. Add to that, the damn thing scared the FAA. They had never certificated an all composite airplane and handed down edicts that added 2500 pounds to the thing.

To pour some salt on it Raytheon Aircraft (Parent Company) said, "Hey buy one of these and we will give you free maintenance. For life!" Then, tasked Raytheon Aircraft Services (Child Company) with performing the maintenance.

So what did the Child Company do? Ran up legendary invoices maintaining them. "Hey, it's a complex airplane and difficult to work on." Parent Company bought the story and watched the project go farther into the red.

That earned the Starship a reputation as a "Maintenance Hog" which it supposedly isn't.

That didn't help sales either. In '95 Raytheon pulled the plug and halted production. They took control of as many copies as they could and began to scrap them out. Chopped them up and burned them!!!!!!!!!!

When I spied this one on the ramp this afternoon I began to spit kittens and ran for the camera. Of course, the batteries were dead. Never fear.


Watch Out Folks! He's armed and dangerous!

At this point the only danger is to your ears!
I've always wanted to learn to play guitar. I've had a few friends and family encourage me to but I never did.
I believe the conversation with The Architect went something like this...
"David, do you know what your problem is?"
"No. (but I s'pose yer gonna tell me."
"Your problem is, you never picked up a guitar."
When I had the chance to pick up a Stratocaster for less than a third of what it would cost me new I attacked it.
Picked up a little Fender Frontman amp at a pawn shop. I've got a stack of books with chords and music lessons. I'm working on my callouses.
OH! Yes, that of course is a Snap-On 11/16's deep socket/ slide.
Ya wanna hear something REALLY scary?
I've got a mic and I know how to plug it in!!!

My name is David and...

I'm a CD-holic.

Whew. That felt good.

It is nearly impossible for me to walk past a CD rack without picking up something.

This week-

"Ultimate Guitar Rock". Not exactly my ultimate 17 guitar songs but it did have a couple of songs I probably wouldn't have otherwise. Rockaway Beach by the Ramones and Sweet Jane by the Velvet Underground.

"Time Takes Time" Ringo Starr is my ultimate Beatle. Weight Of The World, Don't Go Where The Road Don't Go, In A Heartbeat. I love the reference to It Don't Come Easy in Don't Go Where The Road Don't Go. It Don't Come Easy is my ultimate Ringo song.

"Let Me Up (I've had Enough)". Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers. Jammin' Me, Runaway Train, The Damage You've Done, How Many More Days... It's not Damn The Torpedos but it is a good album.

"Diamond Girl". Seals and Crofts. Classic stuff like Diamond Girl, We May Never Pass This Way (Again), Standing On A Mountain Top. This one rolls back the clock!

"The Best Of Isaac Hayes The Polydor Years". What? A skinny white boy can't have a little soul?

Thirty-Three Days

It's been a looooong time since I pulled 33 days in a row at work.

No complaints here. Good times good checks.

Some of those days were only 4 hours. Some were 11 hours.

Standing on my head. Coulda done the whole thing standing on my head.

Attitude and atmosphere make a world of difference.

I've worked in a lot of different facilities over the last twenty years.

A LOT of 'em.

From shady little outfits to major corporations.

From Cessna 150's to Boeing 757's.

From Nebraska to Panama to Kenya to Korea.

Every one of them different.

Almost all of them I was able to walk in and take off running.

I count three where obstacles met me at the door.

Three out of.... well dozens.

That's not too bad but when ya get into one of those three your world can become a dump.

I could go into a long comparison of the last few facilities I've worked in but I'm not going to do that now.

I will say that the last place was a bust from the beginning. One of my infamous, "It sounded like a great idea at the time.' moments.

Now, as a contractor, a gypsy, a transient it's a whole lotta better.

I walked into this facility. I sought out my point of contact. Ya wanna know what he said to me? First words out of his mouth?! "Get your F*&^%G tool box and get to work."

Ya wanna know what I said?

Not a word.

I unloaded my Snap-On treasure chest and went to F*&^%G work.

I've been busy since.

Up until today I've had 3 days off. Tomorrow will make 4 and with any luck I'll start another run.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

IFound It!!!

What "It" was isn't really important.

This "It" is something irreplaceable and incredibly precious to me.

So, just insert your own "It".

It was at the tag end of lunch today when I realized that I didn't know where "It" was and couldn't recall the last time I'd seen "It".

Lunch time at work, in a hangar full of my knuckle-dragging hairy legged brethren is no time to show emotion. Now that I think about it there is never a good time to show emotion in that crowd! Hell, we have a kid out there we call 'Sally'. It's so bad that when 'Sally' calls the Boss on the phone he says, "Hey, Boss. This is 'Sally'..."

Just a short note of relief. That's all this is.

This stretch is (hopefully) coming to a close. Thirty-three days in a row is enough already! With any luck I'll be on the street by 1430 hrs tomorrow and have a whole two days off.

I've got several bits and parts to post about. The usual stuff; life, love, music and life on the hangar deck!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

That was fun!

This afternoon I was in the supply office trying to follow up on one of those, "This part number is no good. We've never bought any of those before."

You want to send me directly to that big plastic diplomatic smile?

Just tell me you can't requisition a part because you've never req'd one before.

Especially when it's a common part.

Guess how many times that happened today?


Post lights. Is there an airplane on the planet with absolutely no post lights? Probably, maybe?

No #8 brass button head screws in the instrumet panel?

I don't want much. How about, "Hm, we've never needed these before and the vendors don't seem to have any but I will find them for you and have them here as soon as I can."

Sorry, tangent there....


Fork Lift.

I was trying to get two post lights headed this way when the Lead Mech came in and asid, "Go find the fork lift and meet my outside by airplane XZY."

"Uh, fork lift?"



We moved some engine crates and other stuff around. Later, I did tell him that the last time I operated a fork lift was 1981.

He did his own math. 27 years. Impossible. I'm only 29!!! ;-)

Just goes to show ya might not be able to teach and old dog new tricks but us old dogs remember more than ya might think.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Day Sixteen

And it's still leaking.

The consensus is that the sealer used (the sealer required by the repair engineers at the factory) was too hard and brittle.

Nobody should ever be allowed to engineer until they have spent three years working on the floor of whatever their engineering.

I don't know for certain the sealer was the problem but I do know it was impossible to scrape and pick out of the crevices.

The decision was made to remove part of the leading edge and start over.

This afternoon I witnessed an all too common event. I'm going to use a highly technical term here so forgive me. I saw a "Monkey F*****g A Football".

There must have been eight guys working along the first four feet of the wing. On top, underneath and in front. Drilling out rivets and peeling the leading edge off.

We'll see. Rather, I hope we don't see. I hope we don't see fuel coming out of the dern thing.

Coincidentally, today was my 16Th consecutive day on the clock. Been a while since I pulled a marathon. I kind of like it. This one will probably run 20 days, minimum.

Actually got to work on a good ol' King Air today. Not my favorite task, balancing and hanging a rudder.

{Technical writers should fall in the same category with engineers. Worky first writey later.
The King Air maintenance manual tells you to pull the one bold securing the rudder hinge to the airframe instead of the four bolts that secure the hinge to the rudder.
I remember back when I was just a kid asking, "Why don't we just pull these two bolts instead of the eight others?"
The guy I was working with said, "OK, you can do that but how are you going to get the bolt out and IF you got it out how ya gonna get it back in AND then how are you gonna get a torque wrench in there afterwards?"
There is not enough room for the bolt to clear the hinge but that's what (this version) the manual says to do.}

I managed to escape the Leaker and have spent most of my time on another airplane in the throes of delivery.

Inspecting an airplane sucks. Repairs can be fun. Reassembling is OK. Delivery is where the action is!

Troubleshooting can be one of the most frustrating things. When you wrestle that rascal to the ground you feel good.

We had a couple of goodies:

"Why isn't the left loadmeter metering?"
'Cause the meter was wired backwards.'

"Hey, why is that fire 'Extinguisher Discharged' light on? It wasn't on earlier."
'Uh, I'm not sure. I think the connector on the circuit card wasn't seated completely. The light went out while I was checking and resetting connections.'

"My ears are popping. Why are we pressurizing on the ground?"
'A new pressure switch had been installed. It was bad from supply.'

"WHOA! Why don't I have any nose wheel steering?!"
'The steering disconnect actuator had failed in the disconnect position. So, in a case like that you use differential throttle and brakes to steer.'

That's a few of them but probably more than you wanted to know. She test flew today. Returned in one piece and I didn't hear any "Aw, sh*ts." so I headed out. 0530 is plenty soon enough for me to know what needs to be done.

That's a Whole Lotta Nada about aircraft maintenance. No doubt more than ya cared to hear but, "I yam what I yam!"

Saturday, March 1, 2008

"Aahh Negative Ghost Rider...

The pattern is full."

"Mav. Mav? Mav!... What's the number for that truck driving school. I have a feeling I'm gonna need it."

DID You see the Boeing 777 buzz the tower? It's supposed to be on UTube. Hell, I don't even know how to spell it much less find what I want and add a link here. But, I'm gonna try!

12 Days

Who had 12 days?

Twelve working days?

Twelve? You're a Winner!

It took twelve days to score a "Prop Strike".

I came out from under the center section of the wing and the prop met me halfway to the nose of the airplane.

We'll call it Minor. Didn't knock my hat off or draw blood. (I don't think.) It was just enough to make me say, "Well, at least the first one is behind me.

The top of my head just as well be sore. Everything from there to my toes is.

Remember the fuel leak?

Yeah. Still leaking.

Remember I said it was just a matter of time before it happened to me?

Yesterday afternoon as I was plotting my weekend plans I was approached about working over time today.

As soon as I agreed he said, "Great. I'll probably need you 'down there'."

'Down There' being the terminal fuel leak.

Damn thing will not seal up. Either wing.

I have my theory/ opinion but I'm just a lowly contractor. I'll just keep my mouth shut and go in tomorrow for some more over time pay.

Time to get cleaned up and salvage a bit of Saturday. If the shampoo stings, I guess I'll know I have a new 'leak'.