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Clint tells us how he fooled some people and came off looking like a hero.
Author: Clint Groves
Submitted by: Clint69   Date: 03-29-2004
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It was the spring of 1969 and I was dispatching a TWA 707-131B, N6722 (fleet number 6722) to LAX and MCI from what was then gate 54 in Pier B at San Francisco International. I was on the dispatch cord and my friend Rene Champagne was in the push back tug. "Ground to cockpit" I called. "Go ahead ground" came the reply. "You're clear for hydraulic pressure and to begin start sequence 3-4-2-1" "Here's the pressure and we're turning three" I could hear the start truck breathing hard as the start valve opened but the engine wasn't turning. "Ground, we're showing a pressure drop but no rotation" the cockpit called. I immediately called to my friend to take over the headset and told him to go ahead and crank the rest of the engines. I ran under the pier, grabbed a new starter from its box, popped the cowling, loosened two clamps, dropped the old starter, installed the new one and closed the cowling. We had another on-time departure. Sounds like a real miracle, doesn't' it? Well, the truth be known, I knew that this new starter was right there in front of me because the night before I had tried for more than an hour to get it onto the gearbox of another JT3D on N748TW (fleet number 6748), no matter how I tried I just could not get it to fit so I ordered another unit and left the old one at the gate. I had already serviced it with oil so I knew I could bypass that step, stores department had not picked it up that morning as they should have, everything just fell into place this time.

TWA Boeing 707 ready for take-off from SFO.

I'm no fool, I took full credit with management. Of course, the union people asked "Who told you to change the starter, why didn't you contact your lead mechanic?" but then I didn't see the Machinsits Union name on the header of my paycheck. I always remembered how anxious I was for engines to start when I was a kid in military school in the late fifties and early sixties flying home from Nashville (BNA) to Louisville on American's DC6 flight 172. My duty was to the paying passengers, I made a decision to serve them and stuck to it and never regreted it.

by Clint Groves

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