My dad works on the groud crew for NW
. He said it caused a bit of excitement around there for those who haven't seen or worked on a widebody jet before (besides the Fed Ex A300s). It had hardcore headwinds and the decision was made over Calgary that they would stop in Spokane for fuel. They choose Spokane because it is a Northwest station and it would be easier to fill up using the Northwest account for Jet fuel.
Being that no one had any stairs that coud reach the plane, they had to use the jetway which caused some problems for 2 Southwest 737s and an America West 737 that had to pull into their gates VERY carefully as their wings had to go under the 744's wings, almost glancing an engine in one situation. If one of the WN 737s had been a new 700 with winglets, they would have been out of luck parking.
Also, the plane stayed on the ground longer than expected due to the start valve on the no.1 engine being stuck closed, and had to be opened manually while the pilots started up the engine, and then manually close the valve again. The only option for reaching the engine was to have a mechanic come out and stand on a NW
belt loader with a rachet and about 15 extensions on it to reach the start valve. Once the start valve was opened and the engine was started, my dad and a couple other ramp rats had to make sure the mechanic didn't get blown right off the beltloader before closing the valve again.
NOW THE FUN PART! My dad was the only one for NW
with experience working on widebodies so he had to show everyone how to hook up the towbar and push that beast back. BUT, the plane now had the no. 1 engine going, and NW
's payloader didn't have enough power to push back the plane by itself, so after a little time to figure out what to do, they called over a Southwest employee and they used the WN
payloader to push the NW
payloader pushing the 747. My old man says it was a bit tricky considering they had to push it all the way out onto the main taxiway around a couple sharp corners, in order to give it the room it needed. Like my dad said, it gave a little excitement to the workday.
BTW, Spokane used to get a bunch of NW
DC-10s back in the 80s and even a couple 747s on diversions, but the difference now is that there are more gates at the terminal now, thus causing a bit of a problem for a couple southwest pilots trying to taxi in.
[Edited 2004-06-26 02:30:35]