Ruminations from the Ramp

You'd better be on your guard because Tony Vasko is back.... with Security and Midnight Raids! March 2004 Airport security has become one of the great problems of our age. There can be no argument against it as the wounds of 9/11 still...


Well maybe. He seemed very upset over it so it wasn't worth mentioning that the shack was tilted over on its side to repair some dry rot in the flooring. Also that security didn't seem smart enough to look at the obvious places where someone would use those big wheels. Or that we had prudently put the tire cart in Air France's equipment area.

I took an active part in a little midnight raid later on. At Newark Airport, a lot of construction was going on. Some very large cranes were in use during the day that lay idle at night. We had an engine change in progress but the problem was to get the engine, a very large and corpulent RB-211 off the lowboy truck. We had hired a crane at some outrageous cost per hour for midnight work but the hook was too large for the shackle on top of the lifting beam. A frantic search was fruitless, a call to the other airlines produced nothing and then I thought of the construction area. I was the Maintenance Manager for Eastern and I took the Manager of Stores with me and drove over to the construction. It was dark but sure enough, there was a beautiful shackle suspended from a crane's hook about ten feet up in the air. I thought of the hired crane consuming hundreds of dollars per hour.

It was a moment's work to park the Econoline van under the hook. I clamored up on top of the van and was laying hands on the shackle when I got more lighting than I wanted. It was coming from the spotlight on a Port Authority Police Car. I came down with the shackle in my hands. The officer was rather bemused to find someone wearing a business suit and tie apparently stealing a rusty shackle from a crane. Well, I was really only borrowing it as I explained. I gave one of the best performances of my life and suffice to say we swung the engine off the lowboy truck twenty minutes later. I even got a police escort back to the construction crane.

In this day and age however, the humor is gone. My background has been checked. It had been checked back in the fifties and sixties when I was cleared for access to SAMFLEET and Presidential Aircraft but has been rechecked so I can work at Tradewinds. Getting on an airplane as a passenger is now an ordeal. We can only hope that this too shall pass.

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