Maintenance Flight

There is an old aviation joke that that goes something like this, “You know what makes an airplane fly?……Money”  very true but it also takes a lot of time and hassle.  The Caravan was due for it’s 100 hour inspection this week and normally the company in Texas that I lease it from sends a mechanic up and he does the work with the plane sitting on my ramp outside.  Sometimes he has to work in the rain/snow/wind/locusts but he’s a tough old bird and doesn’t complain, much.  But this time the mechanic needed to replace a tire on the plane and to do that he needed it in a hanger.  So Sunday night after jumping we loaded the Caravan up with all the crap tools and equipment needed and flew to our second skydiving school located at an airport just fifteen minutes away that has a hanger big enough to fit the Caravan.  I went along to fly the pilot back because he’s not current in the Cessna 182 jump plane we’d be flying back.  After much grunting, pushing and pulling we finally managed to cram the Caravan into the hanger and took off in the 182 for the short flight home.  The sun had gone down by this time but my pilot had brought his parachute along and wanted to jump back into the drop zone regardless of how dark it was.  I didn’t mind dropping him off in the dark but landing on our unlit grass runway was a bit of a challenge.  Two days later the Caravan was done and it was time to fly the 182 back and pick it up.  I checked the weather in the area and although it looked really crappy outside all the airports close to us were reporting around 1400 foot ceilings and 5 to 7 miles visibility.  Armed with an OK forecast I took off with the Caravan pilot and my two other partners who would help us pull the Caravan out of the hanger and load the heavy start cart into the plane.  As soon as I cleared the trees at the end of the runway I knew that what the weather was supposed to be and what it really was were two entirely different things.  I’m not saying it was dangerous or illegal, Ok not dangerous anyway, but it was low.  I not afraid of a little scud running and very familiar with the area so it wasn’t a big deal to keep going and we made it to the airport where the Caravan was waiting for us.  We swapped the 182 for the Caravan in the hanger and loaded all the maintenance equipment into it.  After another short but low flight we were back at the drop zone and back in business.  All that to change a tire.




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