Water, Water Every Where

People can’t walk five steps without hydrating themselves with some bottled water. We pay exorbitant prices for water thawed from glaciers or that has bubbled up from the deep. Or so it says on the label. Much of it is just plain tap water, which is...

The captain said he had detected jamming and had to use considerable force. Fortunately, he kept the ailerons moving; ice an inch-thick eventually coated the cables and the mechanism. Not a good thing at all and made for some old-fashioned strong arm piloting to move the controls. The gear was finally lowered by repeatedly jamming the landing gear control handle up and down. Good piloting and luck prevented a more serious incident.

On investigation, I found a ground heater had heated the airplane all night, but the heated air did not circulate under the floor as it does in flight. We ended up installing heater wires inside critical water lines that required running an extension cord from the loading bridge to the aircraft. Nice if you were parked at one; not so good if it was on a hardstand. We bought a lot of extension cords, they regularly got run over by servicing vehicles to their detriment. Overall, it must have worked as I never heard of another incident.



One interesting thing is that water did not always flow downhill on aircraft that used gravity feed systems. It used to amaze me that water would not flow from a tank located six feet above in the ceiling that should have flowed down to the faucet in the lavatory. It defied Newton, but usually was caused by airlocks in the system. Pressure systems are not immune to this either. After an overnight in freezing weather where the system was completely drained it takes a bit of knowledge to put all the valving under the sinks and in the galleys back to the operating position.

There is another reason for no water to flow. My company sent me to the Paris Air one year and allowed me to take my wife. The cargo airline I was working for by then had bought a lot of maintenance from Pan American for our B747 freighters. We got passes from them to fly New York to Paris.

Pan Am was unfortunately in its final death spirals. The aircraft scheduled for our flight went unserviceable, but not to worry. They would combine flights, and because of our priority we got the last two seats. They had to quick turn the B747, which was evident due to the lack of cabin cleaning. We sat in the last row on the port side.

Being in back put us next to the galleys and, of course, the lavs but I could not complain – we were going to Paris! Reluctantly, the service started and I was resigned to no choice of meals for the service started forward in our cabin. It was going to be the chicken. They were halfway back when I heard the flight attendant in the galley being verbally unhappy.

It seemed the water had run out. During the quick turn, they had neglected to service it. Want to hear pax complaints? Go on a long, fully loaded flight and have the water run out two hours after departure. No coffee, no tea, no hot towels, no washing your hands in the lavs. The bottled stuff ran out quickly as did the wet wipes. The loud complaints did not.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Tony Vasko worked for 54 years in maintenance. He earned his A&P at the Academy of Aeronautics in 1954 and held his first job at Lockheed Air Service at JFK.

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