"A Day at The Old Hangar and Phoenix Field"
It was a cool summer morning,the mist hangin in the air and the sun just
startin to come up as I pulled up in front of the hangar. I caught a glimpse ofSnoop pullin up on the other side of the field over at the Old Hangar.,the homeof the Stick and Rudder Club. They fly all the old wood and cloth planes that
came way before the high powered piston and jet numbers I had sittin in a row
outside on the tarmac. I stood there for just a minute lookin at the impressiveline of aircraft,all of which had been built or repaired by me and the staff
here and just marveled at them. The dew was finally settling on the nose of theValkyrie and a couple of others parked there in a perfect row with the first
rays of the sun sparkling off of them.
I shook my head in amazement and turned to unlock the door,"another
day,another 20 cents",I told myself as I turned the key. I stepped in and
proceeded to turn on the lights and make the first pot of ultra-strong coffee
that we were known for in anticipation of the crew arriving as well as some of
the days drop off for repairs and pick ups as well as the usual motorcade of
delivery trucks bringing needed parts and unwanted bills,the later always takesthe fun out of a good day,but,it's the way it is.
I walked from the office into the hangar itself and turned on the lights andin the middle of the floor was,in all its gleaming glory,our latest creation,orrepair or.......well whatever you want to call it. We had just finished a
complete re-build and re-engining of a 737-200 and the paint crew had just
finished the exterior in a way cool royal blue and white paint job and rolled
her into the middle of the hangar so the instrument techs could give her a
final go through this morning. The power we had installed and the
re-enforcement of all the structures was imense and complex and the instrument
panel was way past fully loaded and had to be checked to make sure everything
worked. I headed back to the office and my little cubby hole to have a cup of
our JP4 grade coffee and start writing out checks for previous part arrivals asthe first of the crew started to arrive. Jake,my lead A&P,poked his head in thedoor and announced his arrival with a "mornin boss" and I replied"glad you
didn't say good" even though I knew it was.
Maverick,my lead test pilot came wheelin into the parkin lot hell bent for
election,lockin up the brakes just inches from the parkin block at the front ofhis parkin spot,stoppin in a screechin cloud of dust. I looked out the window
just in time to see him emerge from the cloud with a big grin on his face as heswaggered towards the hangar,the dust swirlin away from the nose of his red
Corvette.I thought to myself"one of these days he's gonna misjudge that
distance and that car is gonna be parts,I just hope he never loses the
judgement with an airplane". I was still sitting at my desk when he came
through the door in his normal test pilot swagger and started for his office
only to have his journey cut short by me reminding him about how to come into
the parkin lot from now on,which I know will only last about a couple of weeks
and we'll have this discussion again,that's the way it is around here with
him,but,he's a damn good test pilot and a good friend so I don't light him up
to bad,and besides,if they only knew how I leave at night...welll!
I was just about to sit back down to spendin money when Mav poked his head inthe door and asked"what ya got for me to go play with?" I looked up and thoughtfor a minute about sending him and one of the others up in the freshly done
200......then rethought my thoughts on that. "I suppose you could take up and
finish wringin out that Phantom or the Crusader......take'm over to the Air
Forces speed range and loosen'em up and see what they got".
"Okay boss" was his reply as he turned and headed for the dressin room to get
his flyin duds on. Well,one gone and 20 more to go I thought to myself as I gotback to payin the bills.
By this time the rest of the crew had arrived and were pourin over the 200
with a fine tooth comb. The interior guys had done up the interior as a privatelong distance hauler with all the bells and whistles and the detail guys were
puttin the final touches on the outside. I was still in my office when Izzy ,myhead instument tech poked his head in the door and made the announcement that
all had checked out okay and she was ready to take for the sky,which was
perfect timing cause I had just wrote the last check as Izzy asked if any one
of them were for him,"You will see yours on Friday like everybody else",I
replied all the time knowing that if he really needed it I would give it to
him.I got up and followed him out to the hangar and up the stairs into the 200.
The interior guys had done a magnificent job on the inside,so good I actuallywiped my feet before steppin into the plane. Izzy let me slip by and slide intothe left seat and he slid into the right and started explaining where
everything was and what everything did. Pretty much a standard 737 layout with
a few twist. No biggie. We finished with the cockpit rundown and he asked"when
ya gonna take her up"? "Dunno" I replied,"maybe this afternoon". He looked at
me and said"you realize this girl is really gonna haul ass don't ya"? "Yup",I
said in reply while trying to envision the takeoff roll in my mind as I looked
out the windscreen and mentally pushin the throttles forward on those big
Rolls-Royce motors. "Should be one hellava ride",I told him smiling. "Who ya
gonna take up with ya?",he asked. He was hoping that he would get the nod,but,Itold him I had thought about takin Snoop up. He got a dejected look on his faceand I told not to worry,he would get his crack at her also and he smiled and
We got off the plane and I gave everybody the next assignment and what was
needed and what to order and headed back to the office as the bustle in the
place took off with all kinds of orders issued and things being moved and I
figured that if I stayed there I would get moved about just like the tool boxesand stuff and figured my office was the safest place for me as the leadmen got
the crew into gear.
I got to my office and picked up the phone and gave ol Snoop a call. One of
his craftsmen picked up the phone askin who it was and I told him and told him
I wanted to talk to Snoop and he yelled out across the hangar for him and I
heard him ask who it was and he replied"Mutt". "What the hell does he want?"
Snoop asked. "He wants to ask you somethin",he replied. Snoop pickin up the
phone said"you really have a sense of timing Mutt,what's up? "Troubles?",I
asked. "Yeah,I think I got a bad batch of dope and some bad glue as we're tryinto get a wing covered and the damn stuff just ain't workin",he replied.
"How'd ya like a break and let the troops deal with it for a while?" ,I asked."Sure,what's up?"he asked. "If ya feel like goin for a ride come on over",I
said and hung up the phone.
About 5 minutes later he was standin in my office doorway lookin like 20
miles of bad road. "I envy you guys sometmes over here",he said,"no glues to
screw with or cloth to stretch or dope up or engines that you hafta turn the
parts out to fix". "I dunno about that "I replied. "Those Merlin and Griffon
motors are hard to get parts for,and if the prices keep goin up I may start to
make'em myself too." I said with a grin. "So whatta we gonna go for a ride in"?he asked. I told him to follow me and lead the way to the hangar.
As we stepped through the door he looked up and his face headed for the floor."Holy s_ _ _!" was the first word outta his face as he looked at the 200 sittinin the middle of the hangar with the lights reflecting off its highly polished
"What a beauty" he said with a big grin as he walked towards her,eyes the
size of saucers. "I think you got enough motor on her,don't you?" he asked.
"I dunno,thought you might like to go up with me and find out" I replied. "Weain't left yet" he said. I got a couple of the ramp rats to tow her outside andhandle the stairs. We got settled into the seats after the nickle tour of the
interior and he was amazed that even the pilot and co-pilot seats were
Corinthian leather. "The guys figured that if they are gonna do all the chairs
on board in it,why not these seats as well",I told him.
We started through the checklist prior to spoolin up those big motors,as we
were both type rated in this bird. He couldn't believe the work Izzy and the
boys did on the panel and the controls."He always this thorough?"he asked.
"Naa",I said"sometimes he's better,this is his everyday work,you oughta see'emwhen he's hot"I said with a grin. I contacted the tower and got the okay to
light the fires and as the noise from those big Rolls Royces got louder,ol
Snoop's eyes got bigger. "Just a quick question,what size are those things",he
asked. "Little ones",I replied. "How little"? "Oh,about 57,000lbs. each",I toldhim. I caught the look on his face as I finished lightin up number 2 and gettinit runnin smooth. We sat there for a few minutes pourin over the gauges makin
sure all was in the green,and seeing so,I asked for taxi clearance,which we
We let go the brakes and she started to roll almost right away,very
slowly,but movin non the less. Snoop couldn't believe it and had the look of
'what have I got myself into' on his kisser as he was lookin all over the paneland out the windows so fast he was all but a blur. "Relax" I told him"we're
just goin up for a cruise,we're not goin to the moon or anything,just around
the block". "I remember the last time you told me this line",he said,in regardsto the first flight of the Valkyrie and ending up at 100,000ft at Mach 3 in a
real big hurry.
We taxiied out to the runway and held short as a Spad was just commin over
the fence headed for the numbers.
"We have an audience" I pointed out as the crew was out on the tarmac to watchthe takeoff.
Snoop looked over and said,"at least I have witnesses to what you put me
through". "Remember,all I did was ask,you put your butt in the seat,not me" I
said with a laugh. The Spad finally cleared the runway and the tower gave us
the go ahead and I asked the tower for a high performance take off and
clearance to FL600. "Phoenix Air,you are cleared for high performance takeoff
to FL600. Pattern is right to left and nearest traffic is 254 at 18 miles,wind
is 300 and calm,have a good flight". "Phoenix Air" I replied in acknowledgment.
"Let's see what she's got",I told Snoop as I grabbed the throttles. I had thebrakes set as I pushed the throttles forward and hit the 100% mark. The nose
was all but pointed at the ground when I released the brakes,which resulted in
a 'wheelee' and Snoop gettin shoved into the seat."You might wanna sit back"I
told him. "Thanks for the notice" he replied as his eyes grew bigger watching
the speed come up as well as the afterburner indicators light up. "Airspeed
active"he called out in a high pitch voice. "V1....s_ _ _...rotate" he said
with just a slight touch of excitement in his voice as we went over the fence
at 240knots and accelerating like a ballistic missle headed up. "Holy S_ _ _
we're goin up at 8500fpm",he shouted into the mic. "Yeah,ain't it a rush" I
replied. We blew through 10,000ft at about 400kias in about 30 seconds and I
looked over at Snoop and he was lookin out the window backwards watchin the
ground fall away from us.
"We ain't headed for the moon,this damn thing has enough power to get us to
Mars",he shouted out as we blew through 25,000ft still headed up at 8500fpm.
"Yup,she ain't one of your wooden crates",I told him,"she's got it where it
counts". We headed upstairs and leveled off at FL600 and I left the throttles
open and watched the Mach numbers climb."You tryin to stress test the wings"?
"Nope" I told him as we got just a little buffet as we went to Mach 1. "You
do realize that this bus ain't got ejection seats,don't you?"he said.
"Relax,we won't need'em and besides,you know I got great insurance".
"Yeah,but your great insurance don't do me a hill a beans if I ain't around
to collect on it "he replied. "How do you think I keep the premiums down,"I
said with a laugh.
His eyes were the size of hubcaps,the 15 inch variety as he stared intently
at the Mach meter,"that thing right?" he asked. "Just double checked this
mornin,Izzy did it himself",I replied.
"Boy are we haulin ass",he said with the sound of awe in his voice as I
looked over to see we were at a steady Mach 3. "You just gotta like those big
motors"I said into the mic. "No s_ _ _!" were his only words in reply. We
continued on our heading of 090 for about 250nm and asked for clearance for a
right turn. "Phoenix Air you are cleared for right turn to 180,maintain
altitude and speed,traffic below at FL400 heading 085 at .84 " was the reply.
"This you Alastair" I asked. "Yes sir it is"came the reply in the ever
confident British accent. "How's Snoop holdin up to the ride?" he asked.
"Well,so far the only problem is the size of his eyes,but,I got a couple of
bags here with me just in case and there's a box of Kleenex's right behide
him",I said into the mic with visions of all in the tower in stitches due to
the fact that Snoop normally flys no higher than 100ft above the ground and no
faster than about 80 knots. "Enjoy the ride"he said and signed off.
We continued on for about a couple of hundred miles before making another
right turn,this time a u-turn to head back. "Ya wanna hand fly her?" I
asked,lookin over at him.
He had a ghost white look of terror on his face as he replied"Sure...why not".I reached over and disengaged the autopilot and told him"She's all yours".
He was just sittin there lookin at the panel and out the window and he didn't
move. "Relax,there's no traffic up here that we can run into and you ain't
gonna cause a crash." I told him. "How do you know that?" he asked.
"Simple" I said, " we are not wearin speed jeans so if you start to turn to
much the G load will stop ya". "Good point"he said. He couldn't believe how
smooth she was,for that matter either could I.
It was almost sureal in the way she went through the air,and having long sinceleft sound way behind,it was almost eerie. We swung left and right in huge
turns and all were super smooth and silky. "Ya know we're gonna hafta start
slowing down and goin down pretty quick",he said.
"Yeah ,I know,it's one of those things about flyin,it don't last forever,one
of those fuel things" I said with a grin. We got ahold of Alastair in the towerand he got us lined up for the approach.
"Whattya think about her?"I asked. "One helluva bird" he replied. "Think you'llever give up those old crates?"
"Are you kidden"!he said,"that's real flyin,the wind in yer face and all".
"You ever gonna give up these hot rods"? "Surely you jest"I replied "I may
every once in a while come over and take up one of yer crates,but,I ain't gonnamake a habit of it"I said as we started commin over the fence with the runway
in front of us. "Damn nice bird" he said as we touched down at 170knts and
deployed the spoilers and the brakes.
"Take the first high speed exit and your cleared back to the hangar" said
Alastair,and you could hear the others in the tower havin a good laugh at the
adventures of Snoop in another one of my hotrods. "You realize that those guys
in the tower ain't gonna let up for a while"I said with a grin. "Yeah,I
know.but all I gotta do is remind'em of the time you took one of my crates for
ride and had to take your portable GPS to keep from gettin lost and that
shuts'em right up and shifts the laughter".
We taxiied up to the hangar entrance and shut down the engines and turned
off the electronics and as we started to get up Izzy was standin in the
doorway"Well I see that no messes were made this time".
"Yeah,I didn't eat anything before commin over" replied Snoop with a grin "And
no nose bleeds either" he said with a laugh.
"Feel like a Scotch?" I asked. "Sure".
"What about the rest of us?"chimed in Izzy. I took a look at my watch and saw
that it was quarter to 3 and said"Why not,go tell the guys I said to call it a
day and that the bar is now open".
Izzy headed out the door in a flash with a huge canary eatin grin on his face
yellin at the ramp rats to knock it off and the bar was openin.
"Thanks for the ride". "No problem,thought you might enjoy it" "I did"
"Yeah,and ya didn't get sick or have a nose bleed,there might be hope for you
yet ya know"I said."Don't hold your breath on that" he said as he was headed
out the door and down the stairs towards the hangar and a good scotch. I pickedTo all the old timers who left this forum and have not yet returned (they willup the headset and gave Alastair and the boys in the tower an invite and as I
headed out saw them headed towards the hangar at a pretty good clip from the
tower,all wearin big grins. 'Ahh"I thought to myself ' this turned out to be a
damn good day after all" and headed towards the hangar in hopes of havin at
least one drink.
come back some day, won't they?) - look what you've missed!
Great stuff Mutt! Of course, I'm still waiting for a written description of
flying the barn door (or better yet - the Flying Outhouse!) LOL!