That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

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That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#1 Post by boing » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:19 am

Talked so much this time that I had to break the story into 2 parts.

Here I sit on the 16th of December 2019 in Dallas TX looking out over the hotel car park watching the wind blow the flags in the parking lot horizontally, temperature 37 degrees F, wind 17 mph gusting 26 mph, chill factor 23 degrees F. Reminds me of another time about 40 years ago when I stood on the airfield ramp in another Texas town under very similar conditions about to make what could have been a premature last flight.

I had been furloughed by my airline at that time as a result of the "oil crisis" and I was employed as a sales/demonstration pilot by an aircraft sales company that had the franchise for a very nice corporate turboprop which was not selling too well because everybody had jet fever. This company had purchased a used model of the turboprop from a previous customer and had been fortunate enough to resell it almost immediately to a new customer that we will call Snow Products.

Here is the picture, Snow Products had had a twin recip. corporate aircraft, they had sold this and they were buying the turboprop. Snow already had a pilot that I will call Dick in a jovial way for a reason that you may see later. The turboprop was a single pilot aircraft. Unfortunately the previous owner had messed up the aircraft by sending it to a cheap customising operation and my company had to get all of the problems, such as wiring harnesses glued together into irrepairable messes by sealant, sorted out and the new owner wanted a new paint job. The aircraft was sent to a Texas airfield for this work. Things did not go well because everything the Texas company fixed seemed to reveal a new set of problems that needed work so the work completion date was continually slipping. However, finally, we were told we could pick-up the aircraft in a week, a prediction which any sensible man would have laughed at, however the Boss made the plans. Here was how it was supposed to work.

Snow's pilot and I would airline down to the Texas location and meet at our hotel. When the aircraft was ready we would fly it on an airtest and if this was OK we would then fly the aircraft to Snow's local airport. After this I would fly with Snow's pilot until he felt comfortable and I was happy, then Snow's pilot would fly me home as a final check before he turned around and flew home solo. Simple, what could go wrong, go wrong, go wrong?

Well, we made it to the Texas airport and, as expected, met a further delay. The result was that we were stuck in what we may call an unsophisticated night life consisting of real cowboy bars and wannabee cowboy bars all playing what is known in the US as "*s**t* Kicking" music from the juke box (remember them). Unfortunately the most popular song at the time was "Happiness is Lubbock Texas in My Rear View Mirror" hereinafter known as "HILTIRVM". Every darn bar you went into seemed to be playing this tune when you walked in and some morons would then continually play it again for a dozen times. I grew to hate that song.

Back to the aircraft, some last work had to be done on the avionics but it had also developed a pressurisation problem - no workee. A more cerebral mechanic had decided to try some logical troubleshooting over the lunch hour. He cleverly worked out how to pressurise the aircraft on the ground by pulling breakers, shorting switches and using a ground compressor. This worked quite well until he tried to depressurise the aircraft to exit - you guessed it, he could not get out. He could not open the aircraft door to release the pressure, he could not make a radio call for help because the avionics were unpowered so he was reduced to flashing the landing lights until somebody returned from lunch, saw the flashing lights and shut down the compressor. The good part of this sub-story is that is that it provided enough info. for the clever mechanic to work out where the problem was. Somebody had drilled a neat hole in a sensor line in the cockpit wall panel when fitting a pop-rivet.

Back to the main story. Pressurisation problem fixed, avionics work completed, airtest flown with no problems whatsoever, a little general handling and a few rollers (touch and goes over here) and we are ready to leave town, thank Heaven no more "HILTIRVM", the next day after the paperwork was completed.

The next day the weather had changed. Whereas the airtest had been flown in coldish conditions at least it was only partially cloudy with nearly a 20,000 base. The next day the cold was still there but the wind had picked up and the cloud base had lowered to 4 - 600 feet of gray yuck dropping light snow which the wind attempted to blow horizontally to the Gulf of Mexico. I had never seen such high winds with such a low stratus layer but apparently this wasn't unusual for this flat part of Texas. The good news was that we only had to get out of town, the aircraft could do it and we could fly it so we prepared for departure, Dick was to fly, he would get a great crosswind take-off and then some IMC on his new instrument panel before we hopefully broke out on top for a pleasant flight home.

I should mention the instrument panel. You see, this was a single pilot aircraft. Dick had a very nice Collins FD109 instrument package in front of him which he had to transition to but this would be no problem for him. In the right seat I had a simple electrical attitude indicator, no flight director or other gubbins, and a basic compass display with a zero reader off to the side. I did not even have a VOR or ILS glide-slope display. Somehow, watching Dick work I had managed to take almost no interest in my own instrument panel.

So here we go, power up, blast down the runway with Dick's feet moving like a ballet dancer in the crosswind, rotate and up towards the cloud base. Departure clearance was to fly the assigned heading. We entered the cloud in the turn and that is when all Hell broke loose. The transition from visual to the cloud base was accompanied by 2 or 3 pretty exciting jolts, in fact we could hear stuff in the back of the aircraft crashing about. The next thing I see is Dick rolling into a very high angle of bank and I think he has lost it so I call for control and roll the wings level, meanwhile Dick is screaming "Watch your bank angle, watch your bank angle". I check my instruments and everything seems OK, wings level compass steady. I look over a Dick's panel and see his attitude indicator is showing a lot of bank. I panic and get back to my instruments to prove that I am still sane. My wings are level, I look at Dick's compass and it is steady. OK get calm, we are OK, we are flying and climbing. Dick's attitude indicator shows 40 degrees of bank and it moves as I make gentle turns but the big bank angle is still there, no flags.

Obviously we can't go anywhere like this especially because the people who can fix the problem are behind us. We call for a return to the field. An ILS approach that wasn't that great but I had to fly the aircraft and I only had raw data. When we get visual I give Dick the aircraft, he might as well get a crosswind landing, in any case it stops me making a fool of myself.


End of Part1
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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 2)

#2 Post by boing » Tue Dec 17, 2019 3:20 am

Part 2.


We taxi in to the maintenance facility ramp. They did not know we were coming so they were quite surprised. We could now talk to the facility on their frequency so we report a serious avionics problem. Shortly after we park the aircraft and get out we see a mechanic approaching with a step ladder. He puts the step ladder alongside the avionics area which is behind a panel in the nose and opens the panel, I hear him say loudly "Oh F--k", he descends the ladder without even looking at us and goes inside. I take the opportunity to take a peek and immediately see the reason for his curse. There, in the avionics area is what is quite obviously the gyro unit, lying partially on its side supported by other equipment. The way the gyro is secured is that there is a frame that bolts down to the floor of the avionics bay, the gyro pack sits in this frame and it is held in place by some knurled screws that are secured by locking wire after the gyro is installed. The gyro was installed in the frame OK but unfortunately someone forgot to fasten the frame to the avionics bay floor. The bumps we hit as we entered cloud had literally toppled the gyro.

I thought about this briefly. If we had crashed inverted as would have happened if the aircraft was single pilot the result would have been called pilot error after loosing control IMC. If Dick had crashed after a month of flying the aircraft it would have been called pilot error because of an inexperienced pilot. If he had crashed after six months it would be simple pilot error. Nobody would have seen that the gyro was never secured properly. In a way we were fortunate that the problem occurred when it did while there were two pilots on board, certainly our airtest never detected the error.

The mechanic returned with two guys with shirts and ties, they looked in the avionics bay, shook their heads and invited us inside the building. Apologies, anger, a promise to call our boss and make it right and an indication that there would be two unemployed avionics mechanics tomorrow.

Meanwhile we were back to another night of noisy, *s**t* kickin' music that made me wonder why we turned back!

So now I have to tidy up the story. One night prior to our airtest we entered a particularly noisy bar for our beer, probably HILTIRVM again. Dick was getting the beers and there was this quite pretty girl at the bar and I saw that while he was waiting for the beer they were starting a little chat. Good for him I thought, he was young, single, good looking, why not. Well, they sat down together in the booth he and I were in and I had no idea what they were talking about because the music was so dashed noisy but they were getting their heads pretty close together as they tried to speak. Eventually the girl gets up and sits next to me and starts a little chat about what we are doing in town. It did not take long to work out that she was, let us say, professionally interested. I made a pretty strong suggestion to Dick that we should drink up and depart, the noise you know. When we get out into the street I get the story because Dick is peeing himself with laughter. He had assessed the young lady quite quickly and spun her a tale about how he was newly wed to this marvellous girl and they belonged to some strict church or other, etc. etc. Then he just happened to mention to her that he hung around with me fairly often so he knew I was prone to a little adventure now and again, why didn't she give me a try. That's why I called him Dick!


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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#3 Post by TheGreenGoblin » Tue Dec 17, 2019 4:04 am

Keep the chapters coming Boing! :-bd
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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#4 Post by Mrs Ex-Ascot » Tue Dec 17, 2019 5:10 am

Great story, glad you survived to tell it. :)
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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#5 Post by Rwy in Sight » Tue Dec 17, 2019 7:02 am

I would never believe Texas can be so exciting

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#6 Post by Pontius Navigator » Tue Dec 17, 2019 10:14 am

Boing, not quite the same, the first video juke box I saw was in the MinD on Club at Offutt. Again only one tune was playing, I can't remember how many times it was played before I heard the tube but it was LOTS but I can remember the video to this day. The Race is On 😀

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#7 Post by reddo » Thu Dec 26, 2019 1:54 pm

Great yarn :D

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#8 Post by Stoneboat » Thu Dec 26, 2019 2:46 pm

Great story boing, keep 'em coming. :-bd
The Race is On
And here comes cryin' up the back stretch..

Thanks, now I got that effin' thing in my head. :D

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#9 Post by fareastdriver » Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:24 pm

Late 1977, I am on a Puma Squadron in the RAF and there is a requirement to take an aircraft to Aerospatiale at Marignane to have polyvalent intakes fitted. These are supposed to filter out snow and dust from the engine intake air; Dyson cleaners use the same principle. My crew was a commissioned crewman who hailed from Eire as did quite a lot of people in the Air Force at the time.

The trip out via Cognac was uneventful so we arrived at Marignane and handed the aircraft over to the factory. They had sorted out a pleasant hotel in Marseilles for us and at the start of the evening we drifted down to the port area for dinner. We found a restaurant which supplied unbelievable superb bourguignon escargot. We then proceeded to a nearby bar.

The bar was typical of the bars in the area. About twenty five square metres with a bar one side and tables the other. Only one hostess, a Somali with the biggest backside I had ever seen. The entertainment was a juke box that was stuck on one tune; 'Yessir I can Boogie" and it played this continuously. We were drinking our beer with the intention of leaving when the Foreign Legion marched in.

It took them no time to crowd the place and they soon found out that I was English.

"I hate the English!" this 6'6" German glared at me. Paddy came to the rescue. "I'm Irish and he is a good Englishman."

The smooth the world and we were now chatting with them about things in general.

A shout went up from their leader, in French and they all downed their glasses in preparation for a transit to the next bar. Thank God for that we thought. We can get some peace.

No we weren't, we were going with them!

We were in the middle of this wedge of Legionaries going down the street, People were spearing off in all directions to keep out of their way. After a short time we crashed into another bar. After a couple of more beers the arguments started and soon it was coming to the boil. It would have been suicide to have walked out but the barman shepherded us behind the bar, through the back door into the backyard, then through a series of yard doors that let us out on the street about 50 metres from where we had come from. The Hehaws in the distance suggested that the riot police were on their way.

Next day we flew Air France back to the UK.

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#10 Post by G-CPTN » Sat Apr 04, 2020 8:52 pm

I enjoy these personalised accounts of incidents.

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#11 Post by ian16th » Sat Apr 04, 2020 9:03 pm

Whilst I was with the RAF Liaison Party at Base Aérienne 125 Istres, we had an Irish Rigger Cpl, he was having romantic problems. His GF back in Ireland sent him a dear John letter.

On a Saturday night in Marseilles, Paddy gets separated from us and didn't show up for the transport when we went back to camp.

On the Sunday morning we receive a phone call from the Légion étrangère, Paddy had attempted to join up! They had found his 1250 in his pocket.

He wasn't charged with desertion. But had a hat on interview with the boss.
Cynicism improves with age

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#12 Post by tango15 » Sat Apr 04, 2020 11:32 pm

One or two on the forum may remember TTAS - (Trinidad and Tobago Air Services). They operated three 748s, basically connecting the two islands. As part of the deal, we would supply a product support engineer (PSE) to help with the introduction into service of the aircraft we had sold. On one occasion I visited Port-of-Spain and spent a couple of days with TTAS and the PSE, following which he took me out one evening to what might loosely be described as a nightclub, in downtown Port-of-Spain.

We paid our entrance fees and took our seats. The PSE had suggested we take a seat near the aisle, as we might need to leave in a hurry. From what I remember, ours were the only white faces in the audience, but all eyes were trained on the stage, where at the end of what the locals clearly considered a variety show, two strippers appeared in succession. Both were statuesque and the first one performed very well. The second one came out and seemed to be somewhat at odds with the music, which was being provided by a five-piece band situated above us in a small gallery. They were playing an undefined piece of music, to which the lady concerned was clearly finding it difficult to perform her act. After a couple of chords, she stopped and shouted up to the gallery "You're supposed to be playin' de ****' feelins!" There was a slight pause and the band struck up with a very creditable version of the Morris Albert love song. However, the mood had been broken, and empty bottles of Carib began their descent towards the stage, at which point the PSE elbowed me in the ribs and said "Time to go!"

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Re: That's why I called him Dick. (Part 1)

#13 Post by bob2s » Sun Apr 05, 2020 2:21 am

A tale about our opposition in PNG around 68/69 One of their pilots was vertically descending into a small bush pad and struck a branch,landed ,shut down and inspected blades,comfirmed damage and radioed for an engineer to come out and inspect.Pilot duly started the Bell47 up and moved it as far to the side of the pad as possible to allow another 47 to land.As luck would have it the engineer was flown out by the base manager whom also thought he was God's gift to engineering.They managed to get onto the pad ok and whilst the manager was running down the machine the engineer got to and began inspecting the aft blade which was tied down,having inspected that he pushed the blade up and went to the front andpulled the blade down and inspected it,Manager had just shut down the 47 when engineer informed him that it would require 2 new blades to get the damaged one back to base,Manager said"ah *s**t* can't be that bad"and jumped up and grabbed the fwd blade,looked at it then with great gusto swung the blade around so as to see the aft facing blade.They say that the ensuing noise was something to behold as the blade meshed with the blades of the 47 that had just been shut off.Suffice to say that what was a simple repair was turned into a giant FU.

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