Friday, May 24, 2013

The Friday Flyby - 24 May

Before the cool kids get to do this...
...or this...

There's a lot of hard work involved. In all sorts of weather. For long hours. Day after day after day. I know. I've "been there, done that". Somewhere in all the boxes in the basement, I've also "got the t-shirt". My blog buddy ORPO1 is still doin' it. And at his age! (I kid. I kid.)

You Can Read of ORPO1's Adventures
In order to "keep'em flying", somebody has to work on them. Load them with gas, bullets and bombs. Clean the canopies, vacuum the cockpit, tweak the radar, etc, etc. Yes, boys and girls, I'm talking about aircraft maintenance. The guys and gals who do all the grunt work so the flyers can put on their fancy flight suits and go off and "slip the surly bonds".

Don't get me wrong, we maintainers love our aircrews, as long as they bring the jet back in one piece. Without too many write-ups (I think the nautical types call them "gripes"?)

When we sent a squadron down to the Philippines from Korea, we maintainers were up at the crack of dawn to load our equipment into the C-130s and then climb aboard ourselves to make the long flight south. The pilots and WSOs left a bit later, seeing as how their F-4s could move just a might faster than our Herky-bird. What's a C-130 you ask? Why here comes one now - 

Noisy and slow but she can haul a lot of stuff a long ways. She ain't all that comfortable but she can also fly without an engine or two. (And yes, I have experienced that. Thank you for asking. And yes, it was out over the sea between Okinawa and Korea. Just sayin'...)

So anyhoo, we're on the ground at Clark AB awaiting our birds. Line chief told me a little secret, any crew that landed with a write-up was obliged to buy the beer that night. Needless to say, "officially" there was nothing wrong with any of our 12 F-4Ds. We did have to, ya know, align a couple of things. A tweak here, a tweak there and we're all good to go spend our first night in the Philippines. Now that's a story I'm not sure I'll ever tell. Suffice to say, those who've been there need no explanation. For the rest of you... Maybe, we'll see.

So regardless of what uniform you wear. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force (yup, even the Coast Guard): if you work on military aircraft, I'm betting you've got a hydraulic fluid stain (or two) on that uniform!

So here's a big Chant du Départ salute! To the men and women of aircraft maintenance.

Thanks ladies and gentlemen, for all you do.

Keep'em Flying!

Oh, Yeah!


  1. Hmmm..pretty important stuff i'd say.

    1. I figured I should show them a little love. Aviation is not all soaring and sunlight glittering off canopies. Sometimes it's just plain hard work. Lots of sweat, lots of grime. It ain't pretty, but it's necessary.

      (Besides it's what I used to do. I have some insight here. Heh.)

  2. Good stuff, Maynard. SN1 is a maintainer and his specific area of expertise is F-16s. But you know how it is on The Dark Side... he multi-tasks, in that his current unit maintains U-2s, KC-10s, F-22s (when they're there), F-15s, and Predators. He's a busy boy.

    And then there's this... Noisy and slow but she can haul a lot of stuff a long ways. She ain't all that comfortable...

    I hear THAT. I've sweltered... soaking my fatigues... sitting in the back of one on the ramp at U-tapao, only to freeze my ass off once we got to altitude. And noisy ain't QUITE the word...

    Finally, there's this. I may have mentioned this before, coz it's one of my favorite stories, but the last thing the Ol' Man said to me as I was getting on the plane to go to Lackland was "Stay away from airplanes." He knew what he was talking about, too.

    1. Your Dad knew his stuff. Even so, I wouldn't trade my time on the flight line for all the tea in China (so to speak). Had some good experiences, worked with some awesome people. Closer to the sharp end I was.

  3. As a scope dope, it was up to me (and others) to keep them from colliding once they were in the air...

    ...or as the case may be, to vector them to others so they could simulate air combat.

    My favorite words over the R/T were, "Tally Ho!"

  4. I've had 3 kids who worked for us join military in past 5 yrs. One in Navy-air traffic controller, 2 in AF, both in maintenance - one works on A-10's at Whiteman and other hydraulics in Japan. Still in contact wth all of them, all good kids. I am very proud of all 3. FWIW, Navy man told me that working for me for 4 yrs gave him good training for basic....dunno what he was talking about...I think it was a compliment....

    1. Sounds like you've got a good track record. Perhaps I should let the Pentagon know that you're a good source of recruits?

      Seriously though, well done Greg!

  5. Great post! I was a jet mech on F-111s and A-10s. I didn't go to the flight line much but I took plenty of JP8 (and 4) showers. I wouldn't trade it for anything.

    My youngest is joining the Air Force this year. When we had the talk I told him how I was always jealous of the crew chiefs so that's what he plans to do. I can't wait to hear his stories.

    1. Thanks and welcome aboard! I remember well the smell of jet fuel. Smelling it now makes me just a little homesick.

      Best wishes to your youngest, tell him thanks.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)