I had a kind of ear block this morning. Not a really serious one that would prevent me from climbing or descending in the airplane, just water in my ear in such a way that sounds all came through glubbily. I tried tilting my head all different ways, and lying down. I tried putting my hand against my ear like a suction cup. I even tried having a shower and getting water in the other ear to match, just to balance things out. So I entertained myself by making foghorn noises, which sound much more realistic through my blocked ear, until finally I tilted my head or wiggled my jaw the right way and it came out. No more foghorn noises. Damn am I easily entertained!
After breakfast I went to help out with the airplane. The hangar belongs to a family-run engine overhaul shop. They usually receive engines in boxes and ship them out again in boxes, so they rarely have airplanes in the hangar. The hangar area isn't a lot larger than our airplane, so we are kind of in the way, although most of the people working are in a couple of shop areas and not in the actual hangar part.
As semiskilled labour, we pilots help out the AME as he needs, and otherwise work on cleaning the airplane. First we unload the cargo into an organized pile on the floor of the hangar, so the AME can get inside to the cabin and cockpit, and so the airplane can be raised up on jacks later.
We take off the cowlings, which means disconnecting the cowl flaps, turning some screws to unlock the top from the bottom half of the cowling, then removing all the twenty-dollar (not kidding) screws holding them on. Then you try to wiggle the cowls apart, and only then do you remember that there are some hoses that connect to apertures in the cowls and the hose clamps need to be loosened to disconnect them. Then you can wrestle the cowls off the engines and set them aside.
Next we're handed screwdrivers and asked to remove all the access plates. The usual way I like to do this is for each plate, remove all the screws but one and then loosen the last screw so the plate swings out of the way without being completely removed. The removed screws get collected in a container. Some AMEs have containers available for this purpose, but if they don't I cut the bottom out of an empty oil bottle and use that for a receptacle. Some people just pile the screws on the wings or on the floor near where they came out, but I disapprove of that. The airplane is not a table, and that's a good way to lose screws.
Some of the screws are stripped, or in very tightly or both and I can't get them out. If it's just one stuck screw in an access plate, I make that one the one that stays in, and work around it. Or I just say "I can't get this one" and move on to another. It's the AME's job to know how to fix this problem, even though it's probably some pilot with an electric screwdriver that wrecked it in the first place.
When the access covers are all open for inspection I start scrubbing the outside of the airplane. There's oil under the flaps and nacelles and heater soot on the fuselage. Neither is easy or fun to remove. I fantasize about something I could just spray on the airplane and then wipe off leaving the airplane clean and shiny underneath, like in an oven cleaner television commercial. except with an airplane and not an oven. The oven cleaner stuff might do the job. I'll bet it's not approved for use on aircraft aluminum, though.
The people in the hangar are very friendly to us. They don't have a hangar cat, but here is a beautifully trained hangar dog, whose name is probably in a different notebook.
When I went to save the websized photo to my "posted" folder there was already a copy of the identical photo, just cropped slightly differently, but I don't remember posting it. Sorry if it's a repeat. But he's a nice dog and deserves an encore. On the subject of misplaced photos, I write blog entries off line and then copy them into blogspot when I have a good enough Internet connection to do so, so when I intend to illustrate an entry with a photo I just put a note where it will go. So if I refer to an image or you see text like [airplanepic.jpg], please remind me in the comments to post the actual image.
P.S. I didn't forget the hint for yesterday's photo. And the person who had insider information amounting to the hint did get the right answer.