I've been sent to pick up an airplane that has been waiting idle for me. I've paid my parking fee (a suspiciously symmetrical $100: I suspect they just pulled the number out of thin air), finished the walkaround, cleaned grime and bug corpses off the windows, loaded the cargo and gone to the bathroom. It's time to make airplane noise.
I run the prestart checklist and reach for the electric fuel pump to prime the right engine for start. The switch goes click. Not whirr. Just click. I turn the switch off and on again a few more times. I listen to the quality of the click to see if the switch is perhaps bad. I recheck the circuit breakers, even though those were part of the prestart checks. Click. I check the other pump. It works.
I've been here before. Anyone remember? I think it was in Stoat Landing, maybe Earwig Creek. The problem was solved by having a grizzled individual crawl underneath and hit it with a hammer, all without taking the cigarette out of his mouth.
I'm now in a town named not after an animal and a body of water, but named after a person, probably the wife of a famous white guy. Perhaps here we will use tools more sophisticated than hammers. I shut off the magnetos and the master, text the boss about the delay, and go back to the desk of the FBO to inquire about professional help. She directs me to a nearby maintenance hangar. There doesn't seem to be anyone inside, but I wander through into an adjacent hanger where there are two young guys at a workbench bench. I ask. They do interiors, not mechanical, and they direct me back to the first hangar, telling me which hidden door to look behind.
I knock and come in, confessing that pilots show no respect for coffee breaks. He's friendly and I tell him my problem. "Did you check the circuit breakers?" he asks. That's an "Is it plugged in?" type tech support question for mechanics. "Where is it?" he asks.
It's underneath, I couldn't point to the exact spot." My memory of watching the investigation being done relates more to the lit cigarette than the exact location of the part. We go out to the airplane and he has me turn on the working fuel pump. He traces its location from the sound and assumes symmetry.
"Wait here a moment," he says. "I'm going to get a
My phone rings with the boss, who asks me if I checked the circuit breakers, and if I tried turning it on and off again a few times. I tell him yes, that there's someone here who is looking at it.
The mechanic returns with a rubber mallet. I'm still in the cockpit. He passes out of sight under the airplane. whump! whump
"Try it now," he says.
Master on. Fuel pump on. Whirrrr! Big grin from happy pilot. He tells me to leave it on for a moment. He listens and nods. It's good. We're both willing to accept that it just needed a little encouragement after sitting unattended. He waves me off.
I've been helped many times with minor issues like that, without time or opportunity to buy someone who deserves it a beer. I'm glad that last time I met an AME I bought her lunch. In the future, I intend to buy a few beers for unsuspecting GA mechanics. I'm sure they have all done something similarly deserving.
For now I let the boss know that I'm on my way, and taxi out for departure.