Wing and fuselage jacks usually lead better lives inside a hangar with no hydraulic lines above them to leak. Even inside hangars, however, jacks must be positioned carefully. If you want a terrifying time, try being under a DC-10 and get it off the ground only to have the jack “walk” about a foot on the ground. It made some impressive grinding noises as the tripod legs moved on the hangar floor. Fortunately, the top end stayed engaged where it belonged and no damage was done. Why it moved, I do not know. It had been carefully positioned under the jack pad, the tripod feet were all square on the ground before the weight was taken – and still it moved.
One last jacking story: Our maintenance outfit in Greensboro, NC, was servicing a cargo carrier based in Miami flying DC8-63 freighters. They had secured a big contract flying for the military in support of the first Gulf War. I received a call from the director of maintenance who wanted to know if we could do a gear repair on one of their freighters ASAP. In fact, the aircraft was in the air, gear wouldn’t come up and could they ferry over from the military base on the coast to us? As it happened, I did have an empty hangar bay.
“Great,” said the DOM. “And by the way, can you do it with the cargo onboard?”
“No,” I replied, “The aircraft will weigh too much for jacking.”
The DOM was anxious, too anxious I thought. “Can you get someone to off load the cargo if we get there?” he asked.
“I can ask around,” I said. “What’s the nature of the cargo?”
“Uh, military stuff, of course.”
“Anything that goes bang?”
“No bombs,” he cheerfully informed me. “Just aircraft rockets and missiles.”
Well, I am patriotic, but the thought of bringing a load of missiles and rockets on an aircraft with questionable landing gear into an unsuspecting airport unprepared for handling munitions made me queasy. And then there was the unloading and reloading of these touchy objects using untrained rampies. It put it out of the question. Where could it be stored while we worked on the aircraft? And who would guard it? Rockets and missiles also have the ability to fly on their own and a couple of rounds flying into downtown Greensboro would not make for good community relations.
There are times you have to annoy your customers and just say, “No way.”
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