Jan 15

The other thing I hate

Category: Travel,Work

… is when you’re minding your own business, trying to fly your oceanographic research flight, and someone calls your attention to an engine fault.  “It might be happening, he says,” “But then again, it might not.  Hard to tell.”  When asked what the consequences of having the problem are, he replies “Well, either nothing – just a bad indicator – or… an engine rips itself apart and turns into a flaming comet.”

It had been a nice flight up to that point; earlier I’d had a little stick time, banking and working the aircraft into some clouds at 18K feet, playing with the thrust of the four engines and different flight surfaces.  Great fun.

So we sit momentarily and consider which of these options we’d like to experience, while gazing at the innocuous engines and the scenery over Vancouver Island, BC.

We opt to treat it as the worst possible problem; we shut that engine down and head for base.  Problem is, we’re too heavy to land – wouldn’t want to crack that landing gear or bend the wings too much.  So we orbit, burning off fuel, and dump the belly tank.  Basically, a button is pressed, and a thousand gallons of expensive, useful  jet fuel sprays out of the trailing edge of the wing.  If you haven’t had the pleasure of seeing it yourself, here’s what it looks like:

And of course, you can’t do something like this and then simply land normally.  You’ve got to have the shiny, happy blinky fire truck reception committee:

It’s always exciting at the airfield.  And oh – in case you’re wondering, it was a bad indicator.

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