Thursday, March 31, 2016

Flashback Thursday: The Lockheed L-1011. One Of My Personal Favorites To Work With.

View from the escape hatch of N164AT.

Sunup, or sundown, there is never a bad time to be around airplanes.  Being contract maintenance for the now defunct American Trans Air (ATA), we worked the night, whilst the fleet flew during the day.  Not complaining, that was just the nature of the business, unless you were a UPS mechanic.

In regards to the title of this post, one of my favorite aircraft to work with was the masterful Lockheed L-1011.  Love it, or hate it, it was a well thought-out, well-built, reliable airplane.  My only ire with the type was not getting as much time with them as I would have liked, being ATA had about purged them from the fleet by 2007.

Thus, when one lucky night would have it, we were on duty when a Tristar was inbound from HNL with a load of United States Marines.  She landed, taxied up to the FBO, pulled a wonderful 180-degree turn on the tight ramp, and came to a halt.  Out the L2 door came the combat-ready (fully equipped, fully armed) Marines, smart looking, disciplined, and extremely courteous to us still-of-the-night aeroplane wrenches.  Additionally, in the post-sanity, post decorum, post 9/11 world of paranoia, it was quite refreshing to see a planeload of fully armed passengers, with no one freaking out by the sight of a weapon.

Walk-around inspection complete, time for a quick line-check of the innards, and after a brief meeting with a malfunctioning air conditioning pack gauge on the engineer's panel, we took the "Tour."  The tour was an adventure that could not be taken on most other aircraft, however, none made it as simple as opening door-after-door, as on the Tristar.  Being more than one way to get under the cabin floor from the cabin itself, we began our adventure from the flightdeck down into one of the Electronics & Equipment bays (E&E), and from there opened a rear door to the forward cargo hold.  Through other doors, one can literally run the entire length of an L-1011, from nose to tail, save for the landing gear bay, all without setting foot in the main cabin.  Neat stuff.  And, the ATA Flight Engineer (FE) was extremely proud to show us around his bird.  About all Professional FE's were that way, but alas, they are no longer part of the crews, with all newer types eliminating them due to systems automation. 

With the tour over, and literally dozens of "Oh's" and "Ahh's" later, we buttoned everything up, fuel topped-off, and it was time for the crew to get the old girl back to HNL.  All the paperwork signed, we said our goodbye's to one of the nicest, if not the nicest, crews we had ever met, and it was pure music hearing those RB211's spool up and light-off.  We watched them taxi out, take off, fly the Pomona Eight SID (Standard Instrument Departure) off RWY 08R, and our eyes followed that L-1011 until it went over the mountains.  The whole affair was in the realm of the spiritual, for sure.

Looking back now, and seeing how homogenized aviation has become, with the overly quiet, two-engined airliners today, I was glad to have finally had the chance to get up close, and personal, with the 'ol gal before she was retired.  And, yes, it did smell like a real airplane inside.

I also finally got the chance to do somersetting I had always wanted to do in aviation: I got to poke my head out of the escape hatch of an L-1011 (see photo above) - Another silly, personal goal off my bucket list.

Thanks for the experience, Lockheed.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Similar, Yet Different.

Shot location: STN (Photo courtesy of David Kirk. "Nipper" the dog courtesy of RCA)

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Happy Easter.

Photo courtesy of ValkerieXB70

"He is not here; He has risen, just as He said! Come, see the place where He lay." Matthew 28:6

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Keepin' It Real.

Shot location: Somewhere, out there. (Submitted by Commander John Flores, Ret.)

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Always Be A Goodwill Ambassador ('Cause Some Airports Are Really Unfriendly).

Even in hostile, unfriendly country, you can meet some nice people amongst the weeds and corroding airframes.

Ontario Airport (ONT) was (and probably still is) a notorious "No Looky, No Peeky," and definitely "No Photography" airport.  However, when I worked there, I never let the Powers-That-Be prevent me from escorting (legally) friends from out of town to see the place and our fleet of Gulfstreams.

Seen here is Mr. Brian Ward, aka, "Wardski," and Mr. Reuben Martinez, both visiting from San Jose. 

Shot location: ONT

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Monday, March 7, 2016

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

George Kennedy, AKA, "Joe Patroni," February 18, 1925 - February 28, 2016.

George Kennedy, "Patroni," in Airport, 1970.

Cast in some of the most memorable movies, in a career spanning almost six-decades, however, for many, he will always be the likeable, cigar-chomping mechanic from the cult classic, Airport.

George, you were real class, and you will be missed.