Playing Musical Crews, May 28, 1971

At the beginning of my tour, max crew days were 12 hours.  Later in my tour that was bumped up to 14 hours unless we landed at type 1 or 2 (short) fields like Quang Tri, Dong Ha, Khe Sanh, et al. 

On the days that crews weren't scheduled to fly, we pulled 6-hour alert shifts at Tan Son Nhut.  Usually this meant follow-up checks on maintenance work such as engine runups and functional check flights.  This day we had been on alert at Det One since 12:30 PM, and it was almost time for the next crew to arrive for the 6:30 PM shift.  That's when things got busy.

Maintenance had been working on one airplane all day while the flight crew waited.  It was finally fixed and ready to start, but by then the flight crew was already 10 hours into their crew day.  So the fresh 6:30 alert crew switched places with them and took over the 644 mission.  The broken-down crew took over the alert duty because crew day limits only applied to flying, not engine runups.

Earlier in the day another airplane broke down at Phan Rang and was being repaired.  By the time it was fixed, its flight crew was completely out of crew day so they and the airplane were stuck at Phan Rang.  My crew still had 8 hours available on our crew day so the fresh alert crew flew us up to Phan Rang so we could bring the other airplane and crew back to TSN.

So we are now enroute to Phan Rang aboard the resurrected 644 mission.  Full house.  I'm siting on the galley floor to have some light from the cargo compartment to write by.  I'm glad I got lots of sleep last night--it's gonna be a long night.

Non-Alert, June 7, 1971

It was a long night.  We showed up for alert at 1830 expecting 6 hours of engine runs and letter-writing.  Instead we flew 13 hours, finishing at 0730!
The airplane had prop problems.  The passengers remained on board while the previous crew taxied out 3 times for engine runups!  Finally maintenance changed the prop valve housing. 
When we ran it up, the blade angle at flight idle was out of adjustment so we spent an hour getting that fixed.  Next we stopped at Quinhon to drop off a maintenance team to work on a broken airplane there.  On to Cam Ranh Bay to deliver our passengers then back to TSN again.
Back at TSN, Saigon Tea told us to take a load of passengers to Danang, so we waited a half hour  then called back Saigon Tea.  This time they said to go on to Danang empty and pick up a load for Cam Ranh Bay.  We reached Cam Ranh Bay about 12 hours into our crew day so we were pretty tired and cranky by the time the airplane was offloaded.
Then the forklift stalled behind the aircraft and it had to be towed away before we could taxi out.  Ah well.  It's one day closer to you.


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