Friday, April 25, 2008
For any number of reasons. Getting close to the end of our deployment and feeling the days just drag on by the closer we get to going home may have something to do with it. But I think primarily it's because while technically I'm on the night shift, the last two days I've been on missions that started when the sun was down and ended in broad daylight, well past our normal land times. The first night-into-day exercise involved last-minute tasking important enough to launch us at the end of our work-day; fair enough, this sometimes happens with raids and the like. Then last night, what was supposed to be a normal 'ass-and-trash' cargo-hauling mission out east turned into a maintenance marathon when our lead aircraft developed an oil leak on its main gearbox and had to shut down for repairs. There are lots of gearboxes on our helicopter, some of which are redundant (i.e. we have three engines with associated gearboxes to transmit power into the rotor system; we can fly with only one of them if we have to). However, the main gearbox is what our main rotor blades are actually attached to; if that runs out of oil, the gearbox eats itself, the blades stop turning, and you assume the flight characteristics of a 50,000 pound rock. So, I shut down my bird and waited for five hours on the tarmac at TQ as dash one dumped oil into its gearbox, tightened screws, threw things and cursed (well, the crew did that; the aircraft itself sat serenely and somewhat contemptuously on the pavement). By the time repairs were completed, it was well after sunrise (and we had another small delay when my crew chief noticed that hey, there's no oil in our tail rotor gearbox, so we had to pop open another can of lubricants. Fortunately, a Phrog squadron donated several cases of oil for dash one, so there was plenty to go around). We got home as our day sections were spinning up on the line. And my bed could only be reached through another hour of paperwork and debriefing. My spelling is starting to deteriorate. I must find a place to study the inside of my eyelids for awhile. I am tired.