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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Preparation for Improper Maintenance

Nitrogen gas made a hollow rushing sound as it rushed through the regulator
Through the 3/8 inch hose and into the main landing gear strut

As per the plan laid out in my head
I inflated the left strut first
But only about halfway

Then I unhooked the hose and rolled over to the right main
Filling that strut about halfway as well

Just an approximation really
As there is about a foot and a half of chrome showing at full extension
So I just guesstimated halfway

Once the right was where I wanted it
I unhooked and rolled up to the nose
Doing the same for that

Now, there was a plumb bob hanging in the wheel well also
Which I was supposed to keep an eye on
To determine that the airplane was being raised evenly
But given the plan at hand
I didn’t pay it much mind

With all three gear about halfway extended
I went back and visited each gear in turn one more time
Inflating each one until it stopped going up
And giving it a bit of extra pressure just to make sure it was firm

Until there the DC-8 sat
All three gear fully extended
Looking slightly more stork-like than before

And after one final walk around
To check clearance with the walls and ceiling one more time
I moved the one good main jack into place on the left wing
And after some finagling
It was seated firmly

My heart was thudding within my chest pretty hard
Worked up on the adrenalin generated by doing something wrong
And make no mistake about it
There was so much wrong with what I was doing

From the doing it all by myself
To the violating of established maintenance manual procedures
If only I had a bottle of gin
Then I could go whole hog and do it all while I was drunk

Instead I decided to bend another rule
And sat down in the old padded office chair by the front of the plane again
Slipped a pack of Lucky Strikes out of my pocket and tapped out one of the unfiltered beauties
Firmly clenched it between my lips as I flicked the top open on my Zippo
The little characteristic “Click!” echoing in the empty hangar
Before snapping at the thumbwheel briskly
Bringing a flame to the fuel soaked wick
Which I watched intently for a few moments
The flickering holding me within its grasp for a time

Then a bird fluttered somewhere up in the rafters
Breaking the spell

I filled my lungs with that mighty fine tobacco smoke and thought about stuff
Mostly about how good that first beer was going to taste when I was all done tonight
Regardless of how things turned out