Monday, November 14, 2011

Breaking Down is Hard to Do

You see this? This is a nose wheel shimmy dampener on a Beechjet. When it doesn't operate properly, flying in a Beechjet isn't very fun.

I got all excited when Big Boss announced that we were headed home...a day earlier than expected and after a crazy week on the road! We got the airplane ready and passengers loaded and were soon on our way.

As we picked up speed down the runway for takeoff, the entire airplane suddenly began shaking! It felt like it was coming from the nose wheel, and this would later prove to be a correct guess. We announced to tower that we needed to abort our takeoff. 

Thrust Levers: Idle 
Speed Brakes: Extend 
Thrust Reversers: Deploy 
Wheel Brakes: Apply

After reassuring Tower that we needed no further assistance, we were able to slowly taxi back to the Million Air at Salt Lake City. 

We found a local mechanic to give us confirmation about the nose wheel shimmy dampener being broken. Since it wasn't a quick fix, I got my four passengers home on a Southwest Airlines flight later that evening. Because the jet mechanic couldn't look at our airplane until the following morning, I calmed myself down with this:

Amazingly enough, my nerves didn't allow me to take more than a few bites. So not like me! 

I just count my blessings that we weren't going faster, and that it happened on takeoff and not on landing (when we would be going twice as fast when touching down). As exciting as it was, and how racy my pulse got, it could have been worse!

We were able to get it fixed the next day without having to order a part. The mechanic found too much air in the nose wheel shimmy dampener and not enough hydraulic fluid. After flushing out the bad and putting in the good, we did a high-speed taxi down the runway to test that all was well.

It worked, and we came back around for a full-length takeoff on runway 35. Less than two hours later, we were home!

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