Airplane maintenance

table with tools and airplane in the background Once again I have another post about the wonderful things I am learning with the Ninety-Nines. This month’s get together was a potluck at the hangar of one of the members to learn about basic airplane maintenance.

Rosie the Riveter…well, a friendly woman that bore a striking resemblance to Rosie from the grease under her fingernails to the bandana tying her hair up, did a brief presentation for us. We were given a list of tools to keep on hand, and then – let’s face it, we’re girls – we were carefully shown each tool and how it worked. A packet with pictures of women performing various maintenance was passed around for the visual learners. Then, those that wanted were invited to come up and play.

A group of us approached the table full of tools the way one approaches an unfamiliar horse. Once it was established any question was safe (the first woman led with “so uh…which one of these things is an oil filter?”) I had lots of questions about how to secure a safety wire and how many spark plugs a plane has and what that little pipe coming out of the front of the plane by the nose wheel was about.

I learned that pilots (with supervision at first) can change their oil, spark plugs, starters, alternators and tires. I also learned that many of my colleagues started flying before we taught anything about how the mechanisms inside a plane work. As a student pilot, I have unavoidably stumbled into all kinds of information about how instruments work via pressure compression, diaphragms, and Bourdon tubes. After some conversation, I was surprised to find this was not the curriculum even twenty years ago. It was also comforting to see that there are many commonalities between cars and airplanes. If you’ve changed the oil and brake pads in your car, you can likely change the oil and brake pads in your plane with little trouble.

I think it bears mentioning I was advised not to trifle with the magnetos, prop, valves, anything serialized or attempt to jack the plane without assistance.

Clever tips I learned:

  • Put nitrogen in your tires, it doesn’t expand.
  • Kitty litter is great for oil spills.
  • Aero kroil is great for corroded parts or breaking bolts that won’t budge.

Afterwards my partner and I were invited to tour the hangar apartment. It was beautiful and now we’re really leaning towards a hangar apartment when we get to Oregon…even though owning an airplane is still a few years away.

me with an RV experimental aircraft

Yours truly, starting to think my first plane purchase will be an RV


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