Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Is that the plan?

We were coming in for a landing and over the intercom we hear the pilot let out a "Oh crap". Now this is never something that you want to hear your pilot say as you are getting closer and closer to the ground in your 200,000 pound death trap.

Then he doesn't say anything for a little while. Our Mission Supervisor calls him up and asks if there is any reason to be alarmed. Then he comes over the interphone and says we're going to go around one of the indicator lights isn't operating properly. No big deal really, lights go out all the time. We're not really concerned at this point.

Nothing from the cockpit for awhile as we fly around in circles.

Then the pilot calls back and says "The nose gear lock indicator is not coming on. The tower tells us the nose gear is down and looks good."

Umm..the nose gear is a very important piece of equipment that really helps us to not end up as a smear on the runway when we land. So now we are a little bit concerned with the goings on and what is happening. The crew talks it over a little bit and the officers decide the best option for us at this point would be a Touch-and-Go. For those unfamiliar with it, that's when the plane basically lands, doesn't stop, accelerates and takes off again.

Now remember we have no idea if the nose gear is going to hold when we touch down. It could collapse and send us careening down the runway at 175 knots with no way to control where the plane is going.

To me this didn't seem like a good idea. If we land and it holds let's just stop and get out. That was my thinking, but apparently being an enlisted guy doesn't make me as smart as an officer.

So the pucker factor (that's what you do when you're scared, think about it) is pretty high as we all know we're going to come in, hit the ground, accelerate, and take back off. Without knowing if at any point in this endeavor that the nose gear is going to hold, or fold up under the plane.

Thankfully it held, and we were able to perform the maneuver and come back around and safely land the next time. As we were taxiing the little bumps and things like that apparently knocked the gear into it's proper position, or maybe just reseated the bulb, because it came on.

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