Friday, May 22, 2009

My Tool Mess

I'm not a tool guy. I understand mechanical things very well. I can tell you how they work, how to maintain them and how to repair them. But, to actually work on things myself is usually out of the question. Thankfully I have a wife who is very handy and skilled with her hands.

Here's an example of my tool bad luck:

In one of my previous lives, in the Army, I was on a helicopter crew. As a crew member, I was expected to assist in maintenance of the aircraft. I certainly didn't mind helping out, so long as it involved cleaning, greasing and the occasional safety wire application. I tried to draw the line on tools, though, knowing my weakness in that area.

One day we were out on the flight line getting ready to do a regular maintenance inspection on our Blackhawk helicopter. The crew chief hands me a screwdriver and instructs me to take the sound-proofing panels down from inside of the aircraft. I told him quite plainly, "You don't want me touching this aircraft with tools. Something bad will happen." He "poo-pooed" me and told me to do it anyway.

It's not that I was totally incapable of doing the job. The panels weren't even held up with regular screws, rather they were those lock things with screw heads. I objected again, but was told I was being silly and to get to it. So I did.

I removed the panels, the crew chief inspected the things he needed to inspect, and I put the panels back up. No problem, or ...

After a maintenance inspection, a test pilot is required to take the aircraft on the first flight to make sure everything is in order. So, we all got out of the way as the crew chief set up outside the bird to assist with the run up for the test flight. The pilot fired up the engines and got ready to go. Just as he got both engines running, the wing on the back of the aircraft, called the stabilator, fell off.

In the inspection we performed, nothing was done to the stabilator other than to look at it. There was no reason for it to fall off - except that I touched the aircraft with a tool. Bad, bad, bad.

Needless to say, I was never allow near any tool box for the rest of the time I was in that unit.

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