An anonymous forum to allow you to share those moments in flying that caused you concern. You can post without registering a username, registered users can log out to post
It's a sad fact that the majority of car drivers treat their vehicle like the white goods in their kitchen, chosen by brand and for looks with no consideration for the important criteria. Ask many of them the simplest of technical questions about their vehicle and you'll get a blank look. During the winter I watched a BMW driver fit snow boots to the front wheels of his RWD car. I rest my case.

Pilots generally have a better knowledge of their machines but even so over the years I've come across some amazing misconceptions. In my opinion every pilot should spend time working in a hangar, it should be part of the syllabus for even the most basic licence. I'm biased I suppose because I (part) paid my way through my CPL doing just that but it has paid off a number of times by getting me home when I might otherwise have been stranded, a tie-down rope and two jubilee clips for example make a fine fix when a nosewheel oleo collapses :wink: A little knowledge not only helps when things go wrong but can help prevent them in the first place.

My first commercial job (after instructing) was flying freight, day and night, in a C210 out of Darwin. 'Character building' would be the best way to describe it I think. The aircraft had all been worked long and hard and looked like it.....they were knackered. The company owner was a known skinflint and would do anything to save money, even on maintenance. It was an open secret that any component removed from an aircraft that had not completely failed would go on the healing shelf and when the next pilot complained that (say) a vacuum pump was on the way out it would be swopped with one that had been 'rested'. I think he also put his used razor blades under a small pyramid and let the universe sharpen them. On the day in question I collected an aircraft from maintenance in Alice Springs where it had (allegedly) undergone a 100 hourly. I conducted an extra cautious walkround looking for all the usual signs that the spanner monkeys had been at it. Superfluous screws, nuts, bolts and washers were scooped off the carpet and thrown in the bin. We had an engineer who was known to have lockwire dyslexia and frequently wired things backward so extra attention was paid where needed. As always the 'new' oil was suspiciously black but every time we pilots complained we were fobbed off with the excuse that it was just residual oil mixing in with the new stuff :roll:

After a good going over I left with a mixed cargo for Tenant Creek, a gold mining town with an uncontrolled airport 270 nm north of Alice. The flight was uneventful and while taxi-ing in I ran the after landing checks which included 'Cowl Flaps-Open'. A second or two after doing so I had the nagging feeling I'd heard a sound, a tinkling, very faint, I wasn't even sure but it began to bug me. After shutting down and unloading I walked back out along the taxiway where I found a nice, shiny 'Snap On' 3/4" spanner. I'd either run over it at the precise moment I'd opened the cowl flaps or it had fallen out and given the recent maintenance the latter seemed most likely. Walking back to the aircraft with the new addition to my tool kit I mulled it over and tried to recall everything that would be done to the engine during a 100 hourly. Spark plugs were one of the most obvious and I knew from first hand experience that unlike car ignition leads those on aircraft were threaded so two spanners were needed to nip them up, a 3/4" and (if memory serves) a 5/8". Off came the cowls and sure enough there on top of the engine between the cylinder banks, overhanging the front and ready to drop down onto the belt, was the second spanner. After a thorough inspection I replaced the cowls and called the hangar to tell them that if anyone was missing two spanners I had them. Oddly enough they were never claimed.

I know many engineers don't like having owners looking over their shoulders but I would strongly recommend that anyone without some experience of fettling their aircraft, get some. At the very least it will simply broaden your systems knowledge, at best it will help you prevent having a 'Worst Day'.