THE WORKADAY WORLD OF A PHASE DOCK
by Jean Sumrall
Arrive at work before 7:00. Stand around and BS about anything and everything. Time to go to work. Flightline crews heads out. Take our shirts off(too blasted hot to keep them on).
New plane, new inspection. Grab checklist, pencil and paper. Will transcribe writeups into the forms later. Don't have time to mess with it right now.
Everyone is assigned to a different part of the plane. Since I at one time or another worked on all sections of the plane, will just tell you how it goes. Check the tires for damage and wear, corrosion on entire plane, all seals for wear or just plain missing. Missing or loose screws, rivets, nuts, bolts, etc. Remove old seal from around canopy frame by peeling then scraping. Remove as much old glue as possible. Get `seal, APG glue, brushes, and styrofoam cups. Always use 2 as it only takes about 15 minutes for the glue to eat thru the bottom of cup. Never try to carry around a quart can of glue while working. Makes an awful mess when spilled. (Speaking from experience) Cut and glue seal in place. Pry glue covered fingers from seal. Now for the really fun part. THE GREASE GUN!!! Go to bench to get grease gun. The idiot that used it last left it empty. Pry lid off 5 gal bucket of grease. Grab another cup. With hands and cup pack grease gun. Grab rags and remove as much grease as possible from hands, arms, clothes and gun.
Now into the wheel well. A bunch of greasefittings to do. Proceed to bend sideways, stand on tiptoe, stretch, squeeze hands thru 2 inch openings. Darn, just backed into a another glob of grease. Finished. Back is killing me. Also, have just taken another mini bath in grease. Grab more rags, remove as much grease as possible. Oh heck, almost forgot to wipe struts down with hydraulic fluid. Back to bench stock again. Spill while opening can. (Great for the skin!!)
Back to bench stock again. Primer paint, screws, more rags. Cram everything in pockets (such nice big pockets) and tool bag. Sling tool bag on top of plane. Climb on up. Use wire brush to remove corrosion, or replace screws if possible. Darn, stripped the screw. Write up for FMS (they need the work hee hee) Spray primer paint on screws to prevent further corrosion
On to the cargo bay. Don't forget flashlite. That sucker is dark inside. Hop up there, then finish crawling inside. Repeat preventive corrosion measures while standing on knees. (Darn, that hurts) Replace, wire brush, then paint. (Choke, cough, gasp) Crawl out- side for some air. Too much paint fumes. Crawl back in and finish. Now, I match my uniform. Light film of OD paint on skin and hair. Remove as much paint
Now for the FOD check of the cockpit. Climb up and plop down in pilots seat. This happens to be very tight quarters for a FOD check. Feel along floor between seat and wall without snagging ejection seat pin. Lean forward against steering column, bend sideways, stretch, and grope around on floor without seeing what you are doing for FOD. Straighten up, shine flashlight on floor. Something is stuck up rudder pedal. Can't reach it. Take boot off and use foot. Still can't get it. Grab a long handle tool and grope around until you move it
close enough to pick up. Keep repeating procedure until all FOD is removed.
This is basically what we did in the phase hanger 6 days a week. We pushed a plane through every 2 or 3 days. If we weren't finished with one and another was scheduled we worked both. If I remember right,(getting older there. Memory not as good) there was 6 of us including our NCOIC.
As a footnote. The planes did come back with battle damage (bullet holes) in them from their missions. Thanks to the magic of the FMS troops they were always repaired before they came to the phase docks.
I also want to say as the only female working in an all male environment that the 6 months I spent at Nakom Phanom RTAFB was an experience I wouldn't trade for anything in the world. I had the pleasure of working with the greatest crew that I ever met.
Thanks guys, wherever you are..