Having gotten a bit of depression off my mind in my last article on present conditions in our industry I can go back to other ruminations.
I just saw where a rampie got into a baggage compartment while adjusting some freight and a fellow worker, imbued no doubt with the spirit of making an "on-time" departure, shut the door behind him penning him in. I doubt that he enjoyed the flight very much as the accommodations in a bag pit are sparse, the in-flight service poor, even by today's standards, and sanitary facilities are totally lacking. At least the baggage is pressurized and there is a modicum of heat; only enough to keep him from totally freezing. I can imagine the surprise of the rampies at the arrival station when they opened the door. There have been surprises in the past when dogs being shipped as baggage chewed their way out of crates. Usually the ones that do this are not of the Poodle or Golden Retriever type, but tend more to be of the Doberman and Pit Bull variety. They become very territorial about their baggage compartment and take great exception to any mere human trying to get them out. I have seen the ASPCA folks at the Animal Port give some much needed help involving loose dogs in baggage. They did not however take responsibility for the inevitable clean-up that was needed and the dogs were unable to find any grassy areas in the bag pit.
Of course it is not always rampies who get stuck in baggage. I responded to a call for assistance over at LaGuardia one day. A foreman and mechanic were "trapped" in the C2 bin of an L-1011. They had gone inside to work on the baggage door which in those days featured a highly unreliable and touchy operating mechanism. The two maintenance persons had managed to get it to work ' once ' to the closed and locked position, but were inside when that happened.
The traffic was light between Kennedy Airport and LaGuardia Field so when I arrived I was just in time to prevent the Rescue Squad folks from using some very large, long pry bars to try to lever the door open. They were disappointed when I told them they wouldn't succeed due to the design of the door and even more so when I turned down their offer of using their SAWZ-ALL cutter. The name of the ferocious looking cutting tool should tell you enough about its purpose. I convinced them the two inside would starve to death long before they suffocated. A television crew that had responded to the impending demise of the "two trapped workers" was also disappointed but that night I made the evening news. Unfortunately, I was identified as an expert from Lockheed who managed to rescue them before they suffocated. Such were my fifteen seconds of fame on TV.
Our friends at OSHA have taken up the cause of people who must work in confined entry spaces. It is true that workers have been injured or even died in them, so it is warranted. When you introduce fumes, low oxygen levels and just plain constriction it can get downright dangerous. Such places include fuel tanks. Aircraft fuel tanks are mostly of the integral type which means they have sealed the actual aircraft structure to contain the fuel. There are also other types where they place a rubber bladder inside the aircraft to hold the fuel and in some of the older models, there were metal tanks that fit inside wings and fuselages.
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