Trimming An Engine

I found the photo of this B-52, 57-478, while going through old Strategic Air Command files. This bomber was assigned to Ramey Air Force Base during my three year tour at Ramey AFB, Puerto Rico. I can’t even guess the number of hours I toiled on this old girl, what with the Chrome Dome, Cuban Missile Crisis, Dominican Republic Crisis. Studying the picture took me back to the struggle of those days and nights on the flight line (I’d do it again in a heartbeat).
To prevent late departures each shop assigned a person to ride in the “bread truck” (launch truck) to preform last-minute fixes at or near the end of the runway. It happened often, perhaps 25% of the time. And many of those near delays were caused by engines not preforming up to snuff.
When this occurred the bread truck raced to the airplane and we waited while the engine man with the instruction book in hand (air force regulation demanded we each have our book at the ready, a technical order the size of the Chicago phone book). Laying it aside and then lowered the cowling he made the critical adjustment “trimming” while the jet engine ran at full thrust and the wing flexing and everything shaking. All the while he was basically running-in-place.
Once, after the last aircraft was airborne I asked him about his feet.
“I’m terrified of the engines, but they won’t let me cross train into something else.”
“Why?”
“Once I went to “trim” an engine on a B-66. I laid my book on a maintenance stand and started to lower the cowling when the engine broke loose from the wing. It destroyed the stand and hundreds of pages came flying at me. I thought they were impeller blades. I’ve been scared shitless since that day.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s