Monday, July 15, 2013

Two Odours, A Taste and A Mess

I'm trying to take notes on my days and then turn them into blog entries later. Sometimes the notes are a little too cryptic.

Pulp mill smell. Tour buses. Fragrant weeds. Milkshake. Starter gasket leak.

Clearly I landed in one of the two hundred seven Canadian towns that is within smelling distance of a pulp mill, was obstructed, amused or otherwise influenced by the presence of tour buses, smelled some weeds, drank a noteworthy milkshake and ended the day with oil dribbled all down the front of my engine nacelle.

I remember the oil leak. Seeing oil coming out of the engine that far forward made me suspect a propeller governor, and that's a biggie. But careful examination showed that the oil was not coming from the propeller hub. There was oil pooled inside the cowling, but not very much. I photographed and then cleaned up the evidence, and sent the photos to maintenance. (Oh my god modern technology is so wonderful. The first time I had a maintenance problem at a remote site, I drew a picture of the affected components. Yes, I took an actual piece of paper and a pen and looked at what was wrong and reproduced it with technology barely above Neanderthal (I had a ballpoint pen, not a fire-blackened stick) and then faxed it to the PRM, and I thought that was a pretty savvy use of modern technology. You can't do things like that with a telex machine, after all). Maintenance in the pre-digression instance agreed that a minor oil leak from something other than the propeller at the front of the engine was not a grounding item and I flew it until we reached a town where expertise, parts and availability of maintenance personnel all came together to fix it. We already had an appointment there for troubleshooting on a fuel control unit that my own company maintenance couldn't get to behave quite right.

The maintenance engineer in question was experienced, but at his first day on the job at a new company. That meant he didn't have a dozen things he was supposed to be doing, nor people who knew what he was best at to interrupt him for his help. It also meant that he was keen to show his skills, and supervised by people who wanted to make sure he was doing it right. I think it worked out quite well for all of us. I endured several hours of airport appreciation time--perhaps this is where the milkshake or the weeds came into play--and they gave me a T-shirt along with a functional, properly fuel-controlled and non-leaking airplane, at the end of the day.

The rest, I don't remember. I clearly wanted to tell you about it, but there have been too many towns, odours, weeds, vehicles and beverages to distinguish any in particular.


borealone said...

I only seem to have maintenance issues while in Fort Far Away, never anyplace that actually has service on the field. Having photo-sending ability has saved my bacon more than once. Glad to know I'm not the only one.

amulbunny's random thoughts said...

I grew up in a papermill town, will never forget the odor of that mixed with a Kraft cheese factory. Some things just never change.

Just me said...

An evocative post - talking about smells sure brings the writing alive in a new way! (and makes me want to fly again - thank you).

Best wishes from Switzerland,

Wayne Conrad said...

I also grew up in a pulp town. When the wind blew from the East, you knew it. It's been... oh, a good 40 years since I've smelled a pulp mill, but I still recall it easily.

We had no Kraft cheese factory in our town, though. That must have added that extra special "something" to the odor.

DataPilot said...

I went to high school in a mill town. When outsiders complained about the dirty-baby-diaper odor, the locals responded with, "Yup, it smells like money".

Most of the mills have closed since then, although one was reincarnated as a casino. I kind of liked it better as a mill.

Ramiel said...

"airport appreciation time" love it.

do a heck of a lot of those...sigh

majroj said...

Your word string was evocative even if we will each have a different total picture. You've invented Canadian Haiku.