Ramblings about flying for fun and profit.

Category: Aircraft Building

Homebuilt airplanes, EAA and homebuilding.

Big Tow Little Tow

Airline tow vehicle hooked to a Boeing 747.

Traffic was backed up a little as we were leaving Tokyo the other day which meant we had to to wait in line on the parallel for our turn to take off. We happened to stop just abeam a parking apron where a maintenance crew was readying a 747 for tow. They were using one of the big tugs that can lift the nosewheel off the ground and capture it in a cradle. This makes it very easy to maneuver the aircraft from one position to another and gives a very smooth ride if the plane is full of passengers. The tug also has auxilliary electrical power capability. You can see the yellow power cord coming from the tug, looping around the steering cylinders at the rear of the nosewheel strut and connecting to the plane. It’s not obvious what the other line is that is coming out of the nosewheel well, but it is probably the cloth streamer attached to the end of the nosewheel pin. The pin is inserted into a hole in the nosewheel retraction mechanism to prevent the gear from retracting. I have seen these tugs moving 747s around at what seemed like 30 knots. It was probably not that fast, but it was definitely faster than a brisk walk. For those of you who may be curious, the ANA on the side of the tug stands for All Nippon Airways. If you have really good eyes, you can see the letters NCA on the underside of the aircraft nose. That’s a Nippon Cargo Airlines 747-400 freighter, not the private plane of the National Cheerleaders Association. (Amazing the things you find with a Google search.)

Back at work so I can get some rest.

Time Off?

I was at home for about a week and a half toward the end of June. During that time I went back to work rebuilding the landing gear on my Swift. I’ll make a few posts on that process in the next day or so. I even managed to take some pictures of the process this time. The left main gear rebuild took me two months of working during breaks between trips. The right one is now 90% finished after a week of steady work and long days in a 95 degree hanger. Between the heat, the solvent, the hydraulic fluid and the paint, I had to change clothes just to get into my truck and drive home. My wife would always stay upwind until I got a long hot shower and changed clothes yet again.

Another Hat

I manage to wear several hats when I’m around the airport. The most often worn hat has the general “airport bum” identifier, but two more are associated with my involvement with EAA. One hat is labeled Technical Counselor and the other is labeled Flight Advisor. They are both great programs for the amateur aircraft builder. As a Tech. Counselor I visit the builder as the building project progresses, look over the work that is accomplished and, if warranted, make suggestions or answer questions about alternate ways to approach a problem area. I then write up a short description of the project, the progress that has been made and the things that were discussed during the visit. The builder signs the form and keeps a copy for the aircraft building records, I keep a copy and I send the original to EAA headquarters. There are several aircraft under construction on our airport. Two that I have been involved with lately are RV models. I took a look at an RV-9A the other day that is being build in the person’s garage.

RV-9A Fuselage

RV-9A Instrument Panel

You can see that the builder is well along in the process. Something like 80% completed with another 90% to go. That’s the way is always seems, anyway. Lots of detail work to be done that seems to take forever. It’s a nice instrument panel with the Dynon flat panel displays. The empty space in the center is to be the home of a Garmin 495 or 496.

Other Work

Now I’m out on the road again. I just had a layover in Hong Kong, but was so beat that I spent the majority of the time asleep, trying to catch up after several short nights. Tomorrow is a short flight to Shanghai with a quick layover at the airport hotel, than back here to Tokyo and home the day after that. With a bit of luck I’ll finish the Swift landing gear rebuild this time at home and possibly get most of the annual complete. It would be nice to go flying again – the real kind, not the high altitude programming that widebody airline flying has become.

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