Saturday, July 25, 2009

So, While I'm At It...

"Fun With Melodrama"


The J.S. Bach "Fugue in D Minor" alarm on the Blackberry was punctuated with simultaneous lightning and thunder. The storm was right over head.

"Great. I've got an airplane to deploy in four hours. Where are my boots? Damnit!", in the baggage weight reduction act of Ft Benning, GA I shipped my rain boots 'Forward'.

The TV weather guessed the storm cell was small and moving fairly quickly but there were more to follow.

4:30 am, G. Tony rolled up to the airplane in his rented Dodge pickup. His size; height and bulk, allowed him to rent a full size rather than a standard size vehicle. We refer to those guys as "Mutants".

"Good of you to join us G. You're late."

"Aw shut up. I brought doughnuts."

"Fork 'em over."

"Let's get you guys in out of this rain."

Inside the Line Shack the scent of fresh pastry elicited; "Hey! Dog-nuts!", "They're still warm!", "Where's the coffee?"

G. Tony, "Is she preflighted and signed off, are the records on board, the parts, the Form 'F' done, are we ready?"

"Aw shut up. Who do you think you're dealing with?"

"Ok, ok, I know. I want to do one last engine run. You just stand fire guard and get me started then get out of the rain."

The rain fell steadily and the lightning and thunder continued to drift to the East and South. The King Air was sillouetted by the stadium style lights on the edge of the ramp. The ill planned drainage of the ramp began to mainfest itself in the form of a two inch deep lake spreading out over the acres and acres of concrete.

Winding his Mutant frame through the racks in the cabin, G. Tony eventually made his way into the pilots seat. The dim cockpit floodlight came on.

The rotating beacons, navigation lights and logo lights came on.

In the darkness, the sillouette and veil of rain the aircraft lighting accented the beautiful lines of the King Air.

I smiled under the wide brim of my hat, wrapped in my black duster rain coat, despite my deck shoes being soaked in the rising water. A shadowy King Air showing her colors in the dark will always make me smile.

A quick hand sign from the cockpit.

I pointed at the right hand engine, stuck two fingers up into the rain and flicked them just as quickly.


The big Dash 60 turboprop rolled to life.

I listened to the motor turn and the prop spin and the change in the sounds as the starter brought it up in speed and oil pressure. The increase in oil pressure began to change the pitch of the props and sound they made. I slapped at the rain drops as the PT6A-60 hit 20% RPM. Just then G. Tony pushed the fuel levers out of "Cut Off" and the big beast sucked in the foul nectar and PHWUMPED to life.

As the engine came on power l awaited a favorite part of wet launches.

The water, inches deep and just inches below the tip of the propeller arc began to dance.

Another quick motion from inside and another quick reply and the #1 engine began to sound off.

The big engines turning. Oil pressure and temperature stable. G. Tony pushed the throttle levers forward, out of idle.

'There they are!', my grin widened as water spouts formed under the prop arcs. As the power increased the little vorticies danced violently.

I watched and listened as the engines were put through the various checks; Feather, Auto-Feather, Auto-Ignition...

'Reverse!' I could see G. Tony laughing as the pitch change redirected the rain towards me. "You Bastard!", I laughed back.

I heard the motors responding to Max Power, 'Uh, G. We're not supposed to go past 80%...much less 104%!"

Up they came. The nose of the airplane dropped suddenly like a nose guard in a goal line stand as the powerful engines pushed the piston of the nose gear down on the nitrogen and hydraulic fluid inside it.

Even inanimate objects responded to the King Air. Golf carts, service carts and trash cans began to 'flee' from (in) the prop and turbine blast

The throttle levers came back to idle. Oil temperature and pressure stabilized. The twin tornadoes beneath the props calmed.

WHAFfff. The fuel levers went into cut-off and the vorticies flattened. And, the airplane was ready to deploy.

More of the maintenance crew had arrived and were scarfing down warm doughnuts.

I have been called a great number of things in 47 years but what I heard that morning made me laugh out loud.

"Mike Scott!!!", it was big Doc Brock, "Look at you. Ya got yer hat and yer black duster! Where's yer brief case and flip flops?"

"Best I can do is soggy deck shoes Doc so quit it."

Those 'in the know' laughed at the reference to an old friend.

7:30 Go Time. The airplane was ready. Maintenance was ready.

As usual we were waiting on the 'Drivers'. "Bus Drivers", "Yoke Actuators", "Trained Monkeys" (after all they leave peanuts all over the cockpit, write on the windows with grease pencils, and, who was the first "American" to Pilot a space craft? "Ham". Look it up.)

Familiar rental cars appeared on the ramp.

Presumably sober pilots climbed out. They chatted nervously amongst themselves and with us.

They were "Deploying", "Going Forward", "See ya 'Over There'". And that's a long trip in a King Air.

The sun was tearing a crease in the clouds. The rain had let up and the lightning had passed.

Finally, all aboard and the airstair door closed.

The rotating beacons twitched to life and the PT6's came to life.

The vorticies reformed.

The taxi light illuminated.

I gave the signal and the King Air began to taxi forward.

I motioned her towards the runway.

And another bird of war departed, bound for turmoil.

The End

Another Random Collision

So, if you can imagine, I went over to the bar for a bite to eat and a beer.

There was a fairly large party with tables pushed up together in the middle of the room.

I noticed that this one guy seemed to tower over the rest of the party. Turns out he was sitting on a bar stool.

After a bit the party began to break up. Some of them left and others bellied up to the bar.

Bar Stool Guy was talking.

Pretty quickly I figured out where he works. I asked and he confirmed.

He kept talking.

He didn't look familiar.

His voice wasn't particularly familiar but it was his cadence that triggered a mental defrag on my part.

Eventually I interrupted him again and asked, "So you're an A&P?"

"Why yes. Yes I am."

"Where'd you go to school?"

"Texas Aero Tech."

"Really. You remember Sharkey?"

You'd a thought he'd been hit by a bolt of lightning. He actually shuddered and his eyes kinda popped. (I'm sure I did too.)

At that instant we both stood, pointed at one another and called each other by name.

One millisecond earlier I couldn't have told you his name.

We not only went to the same school and graduated together but had been room mates for a while.

Hadn't seen each other in 21, TWENTY-ONE years.

"Hello Cousin!"

Wednesday afternoon I went to the Security Shack with my Leadman. We dropped off three new names for site visits.

One of the names rang that faint bell.

Soon, another bell began to 'tink' in the dim distance.

Name and place but no harmony.

Thursday afternoon the phone rang. I answered, "This is David."

"Hey Dave!"

"Hey "Puddin'" what's up?"

"I've got three guys here in my office. They're headed your way tomorrow. Need anything? I'll have them hand carry it out to ya."

"Hmmm, no. We're good."

"Ya sure?"

"Sure! Hey, do you know this boy "Man Hands"?"

"No. He's standing right here though."

"Ask him if GR-15 means anything to him?"

"He says, "No.""

"Hmm. Did he work for BASI in Germany?"


In the background, "Who is that?"

"Ask him if he ever went to Germany to fix an airplane that his cousin broke?"

"Who the hell is that?" "Man Hands" was getting agitated.

"Ya want me to tell him who you are or do ya wanna let him sweat?"

"Puddin', I'll leave that up to you."

Puddin' put him on the phone.

"Who the f*&;k is this?!"

"Oh, I ain't done with ya yet big boy. Back home, do you have a great big ol' coffee table picture book fulla Harleys?"

"Yeah...", the dim bell had begun to toll.

"I know you do. I gave it to you for Christmas!"


It had been Christmas 1994(?).

A crew of four had been sent to fix an airplane. One of the guys daughter fell gravely ill back home. He left and another sheetmetal tech was sent in from Germany.

As if my running into "Man Hands" after all these years wasn't enough...

One night in Korea the crew was all at the club and "Man Hands" met the pilot that wrecked the plane in the first place. They are distant cousins.

This story was twisted from the very beginning!