Six yards of Flightline and a Bucket of Propwash

And don’t forget the left-handed monkey wrench.

Ah, the wild goose chases people get sent on in order to get them out from under foot, or as part of being initiated into the ranks of mechanic and line-guy.

Having grown up reading military history and “No [kidding], there I was” stories, I was familiar with the hazards of being sent to the parts department for flight line, or to the hangar at the far end of the row in order to borrow a bucket of prop wash. And of course a can of elbow grease, can’t forget that.

The left-handed monkey wrench goes back probably to the Roman army and Roman plumbers.

Sky-hooks. Salute traps. Plaid paint (and striped paint), left-handed screwdrivers, snipe traps… OK, I do have a snipe sack and license, and I have been out on a snipe hunt once. Fifty feet of shoreline. Bucket of steam. A board stretcher (so you don’t have to cut a two by four any longer). A six-foot post-hole. A bastard file (which actually exists, sort of), a double-reverse check valve, an electron counter (because there’s a leak and the smoke got out), a smoke-replacement kit, the list is as long as the evil imagination of a chief mechanic, tech sergeant, or master electrician, or Navy chief. I once heard someone being sent to as a question of a professor in office 813. The building only had seven levels.


21 thoughts on “Six yards of Flightline and a Bucket of Propwash

  1. What’s fun is to heard of the times that the “new-guy” (or gal) turns the tables. 😀

  2. Anyone go collect the rent yet from the Mexican bo(a)rder? I used that old joke on some college age people recently, and got several laughs. However, one talked about border crossing points instead. I’ll send him for a package of One Delta 10 Tango (1d10t) grease.

    Hey, what if someone asks you for a left-handed monkey first, to check the wrench?

    • I have read of an Army sergeant who took a sheet of acetate which had grid lines marked on it, cut along the lines and put the squares in an envelope, and gave it to the just-out-of-boot-camp private to take back to his tormenter.

  3. In my high school, Seniors sold Freshmen elevator tickets to the pool under the gym in the old building. You had to be a paid member to get in, and the dues paid for maintenance. And then they’d shut them in one of the old lockers that was the “secret door”.

    Don’t forget to ask the desk Sergeant for the 1-Delta-10-Tango form.

  4. Chem-light batteries, e-tool qualification, T R double E forms, Bravo Alpha Eleven October November, and ID 10 Tango certification.

    An especially memorable one used MOPP gear, tongs, a broken chem light and a plastic baggie to get a poor sap running around trying to properly dispose of leaking grid squares.

  5. Boy Scouts: Left handed smoke shifter (to keep the campfire smoke out your eyes).

    • And “Go to my office and see if I’m there.”

      Which actually works as a test of a small child’s developmental level, as well as weeding out the slower adults.

  6. A friend who was Army, and temporarily stationed on the Treasure Island Navy base, was sent by a Chief to get some “realative bearing grease”.
    Mike, having high intelligence and an evil sense of humor, went to the quartermaster and told him that he knew the joke, a d asked if there was there some way to turn it around.
    The QM told him that there was sn item called “relative bearing compass oil” but that Mike couldn’t have any, because it was actually pre-WWII whale oil, and the Navy couldn’t get any more.
    Mike asked if there was an empty can, and was given one.
    He went back to the Chief, handed him the empty can and told him that he was sorry for spilling it all, and left.
    The Chief apparently panicked, and reported the loss up his chain of command. It got to the base commander, who started the shit rolling downhill, back to the Chief, who finally called the QM to find out why he had let the oil out of secure stores.
    By that time, Mike had been transferred back out, and so, escaped the wrath of the Navy.

  7. In the old days the AWACS planes had their computers loaded with 800 bit-per-inch tapes. This was old technology even when I was a butter bar, but it was reliable and flight tested and it worked…most of the time. Sometimes you just couldn’t get a particular tape reader to read a particular tape. The mission crew members tasked with firing up the computer on the plane once it was airborne liked to use the same tapes (took more than one) because they knew they worked. However, when our tape librarians were preparing the tape kits for a mission, which required 2 tapes of type A plus 4 of type B and so forth, it was a lot easier to just grab the next type A tape rather than hunt down a specific one by serial number (especially in a library of 40,000+ tapes). The mission crew members would of course complain when they didn’t the specific tapes that they requested. Note that the tapes are suspended vertically on a rack.

    So the tape librarians would carefully explain that we couldn’t keep using the same tapes over and over, we had to make sure the every tape got used periodically to avoid “bit sag”.

    “Bit sag?”

    “Yes, if we leave the tape hanging on the rack too long, the bits on the tape will eventually slide around and pile up in the bottom, and the tape is no good anymore. So we gotta rotate them through use.”

    “Uh, ok.”

    Well, they weren’t always convinced, but it usually worked at least once on the newbies. 🙂

  8. When I was surveying and newbies got there first plumb bob we routinely sent them to get it calibrated.

Comments are closed.