was September, 1967, early swing shift at SFO where TWA's CV880 N830TW (fleet
nr. 8830) was arriving with number one engine shut down for a fire warning.
This was in the early days when TWA had turn-in, turn-out gates with the airplanes
parking parallel to the terminal and a jetway front and back.
Today 8830 was to turn to flight 176 to Las Vegas. The fire
warning had gone out when the throttle was retarded so the bottles weren't fired,
we set out to find the source of the warning. A start truck hooked up to the
bleed air system soon revealed a fractured duct inside the number one pylon.
Bleed air is very hot, it can weaken pylon structures and melt solder in electrical
This duct was about eighteen inches long, about
four inches in diameter, had an expansion bellows and several strange turns.
We didn't have one in stock but American provided a pool part from a CV990A.
I grabbed the new part eager to put it in and avoid a delay when I noticed it
didn't look a thing like the other part. I pointed this out to the line foreman,
Ed Thorpe. Ed scratched his head and then said "Put it in anyway". "Huh?" I
asked. "You heard me, put it in anyway"."OK", I said, but it's not going to
A TWA Convair 880 is next for takeoff on Rwy 1R at SFO.
The TWA hangar (the new international terminal stands at it's place) and the
tail of a 747 can be seen in the background.
Seconds later I felt like a total fool, the fit was perfect.
Then I remembered seeing the old example of an optical illusion, a block with
three prongs sticking out of it except that one way you looked at it the prongs
were incomplete. I had been fooled by the odd shape. Flight 176 left on time
and I had crow for lunch.