The Only Constant is Change:
This last trip to relieve on the fire fighting planes proves the old adage. In fact, it’s interesting to me that I finally ran across an activity, and a group of people, that changes as fast as I do. I’ve driven family and friends nuts for years because I could/would/had to change plans “on the fly” (yes, the pun was intended). I’ve now met my match.
Tuesday the call from the Chief Pilot (hereinafter “the Chief”) said that maybe would not be needed for a few more days. Okay, no problem here, I have stuff to do, won’t be needing to sit and wait. Cool. Tuesday night, the Chief said that I need to go ahead and come on out to AZ. Okay, no problem here.
Wednesday am, early, the Chief calls and says that I need to hustle as soon as I get to Tucson, and get to the company Baron, and fly to Santa Fe. No problem here. By the time I get to the ATL airport, we’re on “plan 4, revision B”, and it’s get to Tucson, fly as soon as practical to Albuquerque. (Thank God we can just put in “ABQ” on the flight plan, and not have to spell it each time).
I land, get a cab, get to the Tucson airport. I debate heading straight to the plane, loading up and getting going. I see the truck at the airport café, and the knowledge of their huevos rancheros pulls me in. About the time I get my food, the phone rings…”Don’t Leave!”. The Chief has now stopped me in Tucson…..
As I await further change….nothing…nada….zilch. Okay, to the hotel that evening, and the plan seems to be to be to relieve on the tanker at Marana, AZ on Saturday and Sunday. Thursday am I wake up to Central time, which unfortunately is two hours off from the Pacific time zone in which I find myself sleeping. Oh, well, 4 am isn’t really all that bad. I make a cup of coffee, and lazily read.
At 0700 the phone rings, the Chief asks if I’d mind doing a favor. Of course not…I work for him, right? Well, the favor happens to be helping to rebuild a pump on the loading trailer at Wilcox AZ. No problem there, either….but the truck is already waiting outside…..
So a rapid shower, pack, out the door and we’re on the way to Wilcox. (You might ask “why pack? Aren’t you coming back tonight? Don’t you have to relieve there at Marana this weekend?” You’d be right about the plan. However, I’ve already discovered that you never leave the hotel without your “stuff”. You never get in a plane, thinking you’ll “load, dump, and return” unless your bag is safely in the baggage compartment. I realized that on my first load ever…when we were dispatched toward Fort Huachuca, and on the radio they told us “you’ll RON (remain over night) at the Fort”. So, suitcase packed, tossed into the back of the truck, and off we went. We (David, the World’s Best Loader) and I dropped Joel off at the airport (back to Tucson airport), for a trip home for a few (well deserved) days off.
On the ride down the interstate, in between naps, I asked David why this was a two person job…thinking to myself, “I don’t mind helping, but he’s a good guy, why would he need me?”. He kind of laughed, said, “you’ll see”.
Arriving at Wilcox, there was some degree of discussion on whether or not to watch the instructional video. The Chief had given instructions for us to be sure to watch the video prior to attempting to put the pump together. “Instructional Video” must be the new “read the instructions before attempting assembly”. The official answer is we watched the video. Sort of. Well, maybe we just discussed watching the video.
The pump is a rather unique assembly which has a chamber filled with antifreeze, and a chamber which is the “pump” itself, all attached to the motor. It actually went together quite well. Debate continued over watching the video. Filling the chamber that required antifreeze was completed, and a short test run to determine if that had any leakage was done. Further debate ensued over the video.
Then, the large pumping chamber was attached. Now, it was clear why two men were required. The large pumping chamber had a “Christmas tree” of 3” pipe attached, and this assembly had to be held in place while not moving the gasket, and starting the nuts on the studs. This involved steady hands, under the (now approaching midday) sun. Memories of various rebuilds of elderly farm equipment, old motors, cars, motorcycles and such from my childhood emerged.
In fact, there was more than one moment I was again a 10 year old kid, helping my dad, and my granddad, as we fought some recalcitrant stubborn inanimate mechanical object into submission. Dad, I’m grateful.
After the pump was assembled, it required backing the truck up to the loading trailer, hoisting the pump/engine assembly onto the brackets, lining up the 3” hose and the bolt holes of the mount of the assembly with the holes on the trailer. Now, those of you who have worked on farm equipment, trailers, pumps, etc, know what usually comes next. After the hoses are connected, the pipes lined up, and everything set down into place….the holes don’t line up.
Amazingly, the holes lined up.
We dropped all six bolts into place, only missing two washers (which we replaced from the stock on the trailer), torqued it all down, and ran it. Those of you who have worked on pumps and farm equipment know what comes next. It usually leaks, and then you have to go watch the video, and redo it. Remember, we have yet to watch the video….
It didn’t leak.