One of the problems I asked to be looked at during the maintenance stop was that the right gear door was occasionally dropping down after shutdown, instead of staying closed over the opening into which the wheels would retract after takeoff. The mechanic looked at it, made a little adjustment to the oleo, and said it shouldn't happen again.
It did. Only worse. I did one day of work, back on the jobsite after maintenance, then the next morning when I came to preflight the aircraft I found the door not only open, but leaking hydraulic fluid, the lifeblood of the landing gear extension system, onto the ramp. It was a pretty steady flow, one big drop per second, and appeared to be coming from the oleo controlling that door.
First order of business was to stop my airplane from bleeding all over the ramp. I took my pocket knife to an empty one-quart oil container and cut out one of the side panels, making it into a small, flat one-quart bucket. The airfield was all neat and tidy, so I had to scrounge in a decorative garden arrangement (yes, there was a decorative garden arrangement on the apron, these California airports are fancy!) for the all-purpose northern airplane accessory: a fist sized rock. I put the rock in my improvised drip tray, to keep it from blowing away. Now I needed a spill kit for the puddle already on the apron, and someone who could apply first aid and a blood transfusion to replace what was lost. (My hydraulic fluid is red, inviting all these blood metaphors).
There was a helicopter operation on the field, and I knew that their mechanics were in early, so I walked over to see if a simple hydraulic leak was something they'd be able to cross the streams to help with. They said no, but recommended another outfit, and while I was in their hangar I got to ogle a very shiny R44. I saw a curious chart, visible through the plastic window, so I asked them about it. It seems that Vne, the "never exceed" speed on a helicopter is a function of temperature, and very much so. I don't know why, so rather than googling it and coming up with a half-baked explanation, I'll let one of my helicopter flying readers explain it. I'm guessing it has to do with air density and those long flexible airfoils called rotors.
The other maintenance unit was locked and unresponsive on the call-out number, so I cancelled the flight. I swapped places with the other pilot, because she was pushing monthly duty time limits and I wasn't, so I flew the other, functional, airplane while she sought out someone who could fix the broken one.
After work my improvised bucket was getting full, so we bought a bigger bucket at the dollar store. And, as always happens at the dollar store, because everything is only a dollar, we bought a bucket for the other airplane, and some extra brightly coloured spray bottles too. I guess my distant ancestors who eagerly sought out brightly coloured things got more tasty ripe fruit to eat than their competitors who didn't care one way or the other, and thus passed down to me an attraction to colourful objects. I blame as much as possible on prehistoric genetic selection. And as I look at my shiny new bucket, I can't help thinking about the lolrus, subject of grammatically dubious captioned photos about the search for a lost blue bucket.