The Shortest Pre-flight
The Shortest Pre-flight
It was getting late in the day at China Lake when I got a call to retrieve a visiting A-4 from the crab side of hangar 3. Don't remember the unit or why it was at China Lake, but it had been sitting in the hangar for over a month whilst the crabs were working on it. Got myself a brake rider, headed for the hangar and towed the sad looking scooter to the transient line behind the line shacks and there was the pilot pacing back and forth. Before I had it chocked and put the ladder up so the brake rider could exit he wanted to know when it would be ready to go. Told him I didn't know anything about the plane other than the tires were about flat and assuming it had full fluid levels (i.e JP, oil, hydraulics, LOX etc.) it was going to take me about an hour to pre-flight it and air up the tires. Well that didn't go over very well as he said he was in a hurry and need to leave right away and he didn't get any happier when I told him I wasn't going to sign the Yellow Sheet without doing a thorough preflight. Said he was in a hurry and need to leave right away and I'm thinking I've got that part, you're the one that doesn't seem to be listening. He looked around the A-4 and noticed the tires were low and asked if I thought they would blow out if he flew it like that... I said no, I don't think they have enough air in them to blow out. He said something like good.
He reminded me that he was in a hurry and needed to leave right away and I said I'm not signing the Yellow Sheet, but if you want to fly it like this I'll get a huffer and an NC-5, look down the intakes, strap your butt in and you can check the oil pressure, fuel levels etc. and go. He said what about the Yellow Sheet and I'm thinking this is all risk and no reward, but told him once I heard that he had landed in one piece I'd sign a bleeping yellow sheet for the records. He said good and started climbing up the ladder... Got him started and thought he'd be happy, but no as he immediately gave me the pull chocks signal and I gave him the no way signal and made him cycle the controls, open the speed brakes, flaps etc. so I could make sure the flight controls hadn't been cross wired by the crabs and that we didn't have any major leaks. Well the reliable Scooter worked like a charm and off he went into the wild blue and we were left thinking that there has got to be red headed, double breasted mattress thrasher on the other end of this flight.
Gary Verver (China Lake Line)