Thursday, June 24, 2010

Minor Open-Engine Surgery

We dropped off My Baby last week at the local airplane hospital. It has been feeling a little under the weather, so it was high-time My Baby get some attention from a licensed professional. I got lonesome for it today and dropped in to visit with some chicken noodle soup and Kleenex. My soup was rudely turned down. Instead, I just sat there and talked to My Baby, assuring that all would soon be better. I think I was saying it more for me.

Though we had a boo-boo that made us bring the airplane in for some fixin', we decided to make good use of the down-time and had some soon-to-be-due scheduled maintenance performed as well. We needed to pull out the nitrogen and oxygen bottles to get re-certified. Did you know it takes eight man-hours to pull those things out? When the Japanese designed the airplane, they thought it would be a great idea to bury the huge bottles in the nose of the airplane underneath several hundred thousands-worth of avionics and computers. Isn't that cute? Everything had to be gingerly yanked out, lovingly wrapped to prevent dust, and gently placed on a holding rack before the mechanic could finally dig out the bottles. We found out today that our bottle is outdated and needs to be scrapped in just seven months anyway. Rather than spending another $1,400 then to do it all over again, I just ordered a new bottle today. It will be here tomorrow, which will help in the diagnosing the whole reason My Baby is sick in the first place.

It's actually the right engine that isn't feeling well, but they swap parts to the left engine to see what works and what doesn't. Because of the indications in the cockpit, we thought it was an Engine Fuel Control (EFC) unit that had failed on the right side. This little guy helps compute accurate fuel to give to the engine for maximum efficiency. When it isn't operating, the engine has to do more thinking and consequently doesn't do as well. So they switched the EFC to the left engine, but the problem still remained on the right side! After talking to Pratt and Whitney of Canada, which manufactures our engines, my mechanics trouble-shot for several days to eliminate possible problems. The ironic thing is they didn't figure out what was wrong before the bottles had to be pulled to be sent off for re-certification. And engine runs can't be done with the nose and avionics bay wide-open! So we are waiting for the bottles to get back so new engine runs can take place to pinpoint the disease. The mechanics said today they are hoping it is simply a faulty connection that can be fixed with a little cleaning and possibly a new connector (I made sure they work on that while we wait for the bottles to joyfully arrive). This made my heart sing, as I know how much the big part costs! I hope we don't need to replace the Hydro-Mechanical Unit, or HMU. It is the brains for the entire engine and comes with a price tag that makes small children gasp. In the meantime, not much work can commence to figure it out in the next few days. It's always hurry-up-and-wait in aviation!

I like the guys at Hawker Beechcraft in Mesa. Because of how often My Baby needs work, we are there enough that they know me by name! And they always treat me so well. We are very happy customers. It helps me sleep better at night knowing the people who manufacture my airplane are also working on it to make it all better (Hawker Beechcraft bought the design from the Japanese in the mid-1980s). These guys are very experienced and know what they're doing. There are almost six-hundred Beechjets in existence in this big ol' world, and they all get work done by these gentlemen. I feel safe with them. I am just glad I don't have the write the check!

They get to work on My Baby for another week, but I hope we have a successful diagnosis soon so the parts can be ordered. There is nothing better than flying a healthy airplane!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Days Full of Joy and Laughter

I am always so worried that people are going to think that all I accomplish in my spare time is shopping and bowling. (Nervous laugh).

So, um, I went shopping and bowling today. One was planned ($1 games every husband and I are now bowling alley regulars), and the other was a pleasant surprise. My sister called and said she was close to Fiesta Mall, which has a Dillard's Outlet. She asked if I wanted to meet up, since she wants to look fancy next week on her trip north to visit friends and family. I would never, ever turn down a chance to see Evan, and seeing T'liese is kind of a lot of fun, too! So we met at Dillard's and found our way to the Misses shirts. T'liese tried on about eight and got three cute ones! On our way to the shoes (my request...), we passed through the home department. It was here that I was struck with a self-realization. I don't even shop for clothes any more! It is more of a nuisance than anything. In stark contrast, I cannot get enough of shopping for things for a home. And I even scored today by finding some beautiful napkins in my favorite shade of blue. They will match perfectly some other napkins at home. I usually don't buy anything when out "shopping" with my sister. She thinks I am a bad influence on her because she buys things, and I go home empty-handed and very content. I couldn't resist perfect napkins today...marked down from $6.00 to $1.80. Then we found the shoe department. It's nearly impossible to find shoes in the right size because of the haphazard area, but at least we weren't harassed constantly by an attendant asking if we needed help. We were able to graze at our leisure, and T'liese found a beautiful pair of flats to replace her much-beloved beautiful pair of flats. And I bought my napkins. So I would say it was a successful day of shopping with my sister.

Evan was so tired but wouldn't fall asleep. So I held him and rocked him and talked to him. He talks the most when he is really tired, and he had lots to say today! What a sweet boy. There is nothing more wonderful than those big blue eyes looking up and that tiny voice telling a story. I like him. I like him a lot. When my arms could no longer take the weight, I put him back in the stroller. But only until I couldn't stand not holding him any more! He gets mauled by bears every time he is around Aunt Micah. But the way he talks, I am starting to think he likes it!

And so we went bowling. I met my husband at our bowling alley. I think we can say we have a bowling alley, simply because we have been faithful patrons the past three Tuesdays. It's a blast. Last week, we even had a co-worker of John's join us for some games. It was back to just the two of us today. I am a consistently inconsistent bowler, which can be frustrating. I just have fun with it and try to figure out how to be more consistent (failing miserably, but at least I have cool shoes). I had a good game today, as proved in the score card! I enter my name as "Sally," which is my nickname from one of my best friends from senior year. She was a foreign exchange student from Thailand and thought my name was weird (wasn't the first or last time I would hear that), so she started calling me Sally. It stuck. So Sally and John bowled three games and had a lovely time. We get compliments on our awesome shoes every time we show up at our alley. We have a bowling alley, after all.

So, just for the record...I do more than shop and bowl. I just don't have the photos to prove it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Flying for Maintenance

It was time to get some things fixed on our airplane, so we flew from Sky Harbor to Willy Gateway this past Friday. Hawker Beechcraft has a beautiful new facility there for maintenance, and it's much nicer than flying all the way to San Antonio (I stayed there to babysit during maintenance...I have so many hotel points from San Antonio!). Since this facility opened last year, we have been able to cut down our maintenance commute quite a bit. I still observe maintenance any time the airplane is being touched (fine-print in my job description, apparently), but I get to sleep in my own bed with my own husband every night. My Baby will be down for about two weeks, so Terry left town for vacation.

Terry brought along his daughter for the flight, Laura, who had a baby just three and a half months ago. Since this was Joshua's first airplane ride, we took lots of pictures. He likes the airplane, but not the car ride to or from the airport. I never knew something so tiny could have such extensive lung power!

It felt good to fly, even if for only fifteen minutes. I sure love my airplane. I love flying!

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