I breathed a sigh of relief! I sat there for about 10 minutes then decided to go and help also. Crazy but true.
Banyan, F1 and 20 Year Grudge were just getting started and I jumped in where I could. Panels had to come off, the actuator had to be disconnected, the anti-ice duct also. Wires checked and moved and the puzzle of what the best way to remove the thing was slowly worked out. The Foreman (lets call him Surf) delivered our new slat and it was prepped.
As I was not assigned the job, when a gate call came over the radio I went to work it along with another guy so that these fellas could keep going. Around shift change 2:30pm the next player arrived-Tuna. Tuna was to be our inspector for the job. When we have large jobs or any time we mess with the flight controls we assign an inspector to look over the work and keep us all honest. Surf came over the radio "Banyan, you wanna stay for swing shift to finish the job?" Banyan was tired, he told me he could not wait to be done today so he could go home. I could tell he did not like the idea of staying but I knew that, like a lot of us, the idea of leaving a job half done was worse to him. He told the swing shift Lead (let's call him SkiBoat) that he would stay if they let Goat stay. he also said that if we stayed we could get the thing done in four hours. SkiBoat got on the radio and said "Hey Surf, Banyan will stay if we let Goat stay, he, Goat and F1 think they can finish in four hours." To my surprise Surf came back and said it was OK!
We got that old slat off and put the new one on. We actually put the new one on three times because we kept forgetting to hook up a wire or bracket or something. We finally got it up and Tuna inspected everything before we did our ops check. Tuna gave the OK to close the panels and we grabbed our screw guns and went to town.
We finished around 4:15 so all in all we spent about 5 hours on the thing. It felt good to work with guys that knew how to get a job done. No whining, no complaints just honest work. These guys don't stop for food or stupid things like that. They work hard and they work hard until the job is done. I am glad and proud to be in this group of workers and I hope that they feel they can rely on me the way I know I can rely on them.
One strange thing that happened: Once we were done and cleaned up F1 comes in and tells us that the plane we were working on is due to be retired in a month and a half! All that work and the plane is most likely going to the desert to be chopped up! We had shed sweat and even some blood to keep this thing flying and in the end...she was an old tired lady.
I have said it before and I will say it again, it's a strange feeling to know the plane you work so hard on is going to be leaving soon. All of us, for years worked hard to keep that plane going, "just get her over the fence" as we say. She no longer makes economical sense to keep around. Most likely she is timed out, too many cycles, not worth keeping with all the new more economical planes coming out. Like the 737-200s that this 737-300 replaced they will slowly fade away until they are stuff of legend, just a story to tell a probbie: "We used to change those heavy slats out here in the sun and rain and in the end...she was parked in the desert and dismantled."
|Photo:Bobby Allison via airliners.net|