Those Christmas poinsettias just keep on living.
“What are you doing Andre?”
“Thinking about retiring,” comes the curt reply from the trim, bearded AME perched atop a ladder.
The first day back at the hangar after the holidays finds AME (Aircraft Maintenance Engineer) Andre Laviolette elbows-deep in the Mustang engine, working on the aircraft’s annual inspection. And it is not going well. He has already spent four hours trying to secure a very stubborn tube from the intercooler to the engine, and as anyone who has ever done anything mechanical knows, all difficult attachment points exist only deep in the hard-to-access dirty bowels of a machine.
I visit Andre again later in the day, and he and fellow AME Angie Gagnon have reigned victorious over the intercooler tube and are now trying to pry off the propeller governor and fix a leaky adapter seal.
Such is life at the hangar.
AMEs Angie Gagnon and Andre Laviolette trying to convince the prop governor to do their bidding.
While a cold north wind sweeps across the runway and snow drifts pile up against the hangar door, all is not quiet here at Vintage Wings. The hangar is not in hibernation, though the winter light is bleak and the sun’s arc through the sky shallow.
In addition to the Mustang, the P40 and Stearman are also in the middle of their annual inspections, and these, along with our Spitfire, Hurricane and Tiger Moth restorations, keep the maintenance team busy.
In the front offices, keyboards tap away and emails fly, setting up budget meetings and arranging air show appearances for the 2012 season.
Meantime in the library, a group of devoted volunteers sit editing a PowerPoint presentation for one of our famous Warbird U groundschools. They spend three hours on the Fuel System alone – but the magnificent animations are well worth the effort.
Dedicated volunteers (from L to R) Rob Kostecka, Blake Reid and John Aitken go over the Swordfish groundschool with a fine tooth comb.
And of course, not to be left out, hangar dog Cleo lies snoring on the floor, memories of sugarplum treats no doubt dancing in her head.
After a brief break over the holidays, the hangar is alive again and humming with activity. The only remnants of Christmas are cards scattered across the table and those red poinsettias that seem to live forever.
From all of us at Vintage Wings, Happy New Year and all the best in 2012!