Wednesday, March 24

Out of the Mothballs

Spring is here, or so they say....sometimes not readily evident. And here I am at o'dark-thirty on St. Patrick's Day morning driving the 45 minutes to the Atlanta airport. Gene is going to Ft. Worth to help bring the Flagship east for the start of the air show season. She had wintered, as usual, at the American Airlines Maintenance hanger at Alliance airport where volunteers have given her tender loving care. Lewis Drake is doing the same routine from Kentucky, so as to arrive about the same time. On the other end, John Thatcher will meet them and house them for a couple of days.

Many of the pilots need recurrent training and a few are getting initial instruction on this airplane. Most of these guys know all about the large passenger jets, but this, a pioneer in passenger aviation, is a whole 'nother ballgame. On Wednesday Gene did some lengthy one on one with Zane Lemon ( you should see how dashing he is in his vintage AA uniform). On Thursday he gives recurrent training to 7 pilots. This is quite exhausting. The rule is you let your student go as far as you can and still recover before correcting them so it is hard on the nerves being at the ready all day.

As the day came to a close and Gene was seeing visions of a cold beer on the horizon, he noticed something not up to snuff on the landing gear. Oh, no! Leaving tomorrow so this has to be dealt with now. The next three hours Gene, Lewis and perhaps others provide backup to an American mechanic to make adjustments to the gear. So, by the time the day is truly over they are tired and very dirty. There is no dirty like the dirty of dealing with a DC3. All sorts of liquids will spit and leak all over you, not to mention the film of oil and dirt that seems to bond to every surface.

On Friday morning Lewis, John, Dave Buffington and Gene head to the airport for the trip to Shelbyville, TN, the Flagship's summer home.

No comments:

Post a Comment