1965, I had just graduated from Spartan school of Aeronautics in Tulsa with
a fresh A&P ticket in my pocket. With no immediate job offerings I had returned
home to Louisville and left applications with the FBOs at Bowman Field when
I got a call from Central Airlines. They wanted me to report to work ASAP at
their Greater Southwest International Airport (GSW), a spot that still stands
in the southwest corner of DFW airport.
Wow! I'd made it into the big times, $ 2.92 an
hour to start, a far cry from the $ 1.00 an hour minimum wage. I was assigned
to the swing shift at the hangar and assigned to an old mechanic who was about
to retire. We would go to the terminal and taxi back Convair 240s and DC3s,
fuel them and work off the write-ups. The old man, I can't begin to remember
his name, would sit on the wings with a big aviation fuel nozzel in his hands
and a lighted cigarette in his mouth. Sometimes the ashes would fall and almost
go into the tank, to this day I don't know what kept us from becoming crispey
I remember the day before I was to transfer to
Kansas City, Missouri (MKC) I was told to go to the cockpit of a C47, release
the brakes and pull back on the tail lock wheel release under the throttle quadrant.
I did exactly as told and in a few feet of movemnt heard a loud report from
the tail followed by the curses of three mechanics.
"I thought I told you to pull back on the
tail wheel lock" Groweled the lead. "I did" I insisted. "You
couldn't have" the lead said, "Didn't you put it into the lock detent?"
"No, you never mentioned that" I said.
Years later I realized I had been set up, just
like new people sent for a bucket of prop wash or a set of pad eye covers. I
had to wear the broken tail wheel lock pin just like the albatross around the
neck of the poor soul in that famous classic.
Yep, my time would come. My mind is much more