Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Hosed! When aircraft don't cooperate.

Sunday night was a beautiful night for flying. No clouds, no wind, and a full moon rising over the horizon. I invited a friend from church out for a night flight and we drove out to the airport, arriving at about 10:00PM. The place was empty and quiet, and after I coded us through the security gate, we were the only people on the field with the exception of a few military police way over on the Air Force side. I untied the aircraft and did my pre-flight by flashlight, then got my passenger all seated and briefed. Switching the power on, I started the engine, all set for an hour's flying. Then I reached down and switched on the Taxi light. Nothing. Landing light was out, too. Dammit!
Without those lights, trying to taxi and park--and land--would be akin to driving a car with no headlights. I apologized to my friend as I shut the aircraft back down and began to re-secure it. There would be no flight this night.

Today I went out to remedy the situation. I went over to my A&P shop and bought the requisite lights--a bargain at only sixty bucks for two bulbs. (The high price is pretty much just because the boxes have the word "aircraft" on them.) Then I went over and started taking the cover off of the light housing.
18 screws later, I had the bulbs exposed. 8 more screws and the bulbs were ready to come out. I took the opportunity to upgrade the Taxi light to a 250W bulb since the shop had one in stock. The Landing light was replaced with a standard 100W bulb. Apparently these bulbs don't last long as a rule and I probably should have had this trouble before now. The only real solution is to replace them with LED lights, but those cost ten times what I paid for these. For that kind of money, I'll just replace them every now and again.
I got the new bulbs in and tested them.
They work! I did it right!

I put the cover back on, then noticed how dirty it was on the inside and took it back off again for a good cleaning. Then I locked it down with it's 18 screws and I'm all set for more night flight.

And as I was grumbling over my being targeted by aircraft gremlins quite a bit recently, I watched an Air Force C-5 leave their ramp and proceed to the departure end of the runway. "At least someone's flying today," I thought. The C-5 began it's run-up checks and I stopped to watch it's take-off because they're just so damned cool. But then suddenly the C-5's engines dropped back down to idle and it turned back around and trundled back to the ramp and shut down. I guess that sometimes the gremlins even get the big guys.


  1. Ah yes, light... That DOES help! :-)

  2. Anonymous11:50 AM

    18 screws? Sounds like you were screwed.


  3. I'm glad you were able to get things fixed without too much fuss & bother.

  4. Better that you found out on the ramp than on final. That happened to me once.

  5. The C-5 has the highest gremilin population of any a/c in the AF inventory.

    Perhaps some of them have migrated across the field and have settled in your Skyhawk. It may be time to find another field to tie down at.

    Good luck

  6. There were several USAF truisms about C-5.

    What do you have when you have 2 C-5s on jacks and 1 on the ramp?
    Only two jacks.
    What's the difference between a C-5 and a C-5 Pilot?
    The C-5 stops whining when the engine spools down.
    Why does a C-5 taxi back from the takeoff end of the runway?
    They have run out of box lunches.

    Thank you, thank you, be sure and tip your waiter, I'll be back for the late show.

  7. When I am installing parts on airplanes, I noticed that the difference in part cost from the car vs airplane. A part that cost $10.00 for your car will cost the airlines $1000.00 because of that little stamp on the part that says "FAA-PMA" I should be in the airplane parts business...sheesh.

  8. Anonymous5:52 PM

    Be careful of the Gremlins
    never get them wet.
    And never feed them after midnight.

  9. That's kind of like it was with the air-cooled VW and Porsche. Same part, but the one in the Porsche box would cost 3x as much as the VW part.