Here is one of my more interesting days in my corporate aviation career.
We had scheduled our JetStar in for a major refurbishing, included new cabin seats, carpeting, partial interior replacement, overhauling all 4 engines, paint and other improvements. Before we flew the airplane out to the interior shop, we did a major 800 hour inspection at home, including the 5 year wing fuel tank inspection. With all the work being done, the JetStar was to be out of service for almost 3 months.
To do this wing tank inspection, known as a tank and plank, it involves removing the auxiliary wing fuel tanks and then removing the entire tops of the wing to be able to inspect for corrosion and clean out the tanks. There are 4 large wing planks, each the length of the wing, which are held in place by hundreds of screws. Only a few specialized aircraft fuel tanks companies are certified to do this work because if the airplane is not shored up just right, the wing can be permanently bent. This is normally a 2 week job and to say the least very expensive. The best time to do this job is before the airplane is painted because by removing the screws and wing planks, it tends to destroy a lot of the paint on the wing.
On our final trip before this work started we had a day trip scheduled from HPN
, to drop our passengers there and ferry back to HPN
. Because the Chief Pilot had to leave the airplane in TUC
and go to LAX
to ferry back the airplane we had leased for 3 months, normally I would have gone along as the third pilot and fly the airplane back home with our other captain. But the company had 10 passengers booked on this trip, since we only had 9 seats in the cabin, one of the passengers had to sit in the cockpit jump seat, so there was no room for me to go on this flight. Another problem was our other Captain was headed out to his 2 week naval reserve commitment at 6:00 am the next morning from his base in Willow Grove, PA, he was a pilot in the navy reserve so we had no choice but to ferry back the same day.
So now comes the fun part.
I had booked a 1:30pm flight to TUC
on Braniff, Airlines, stopping at DFW
and I would meet the JetStar in TUC
and ferry back home getting back into HPN
around 10:00 pm and the other pilot would then drive to Willow Grove. Since I also had to go into New York City at one time or another to pick up some personal items, I decided to do both on the same day, so here was my itinerary.
I drove to the White Plains Railroad station, parked my car there and took the commuter train into Grand Central Station, then got on the Lexington Avenue subway to Astor Place, picked up my items and took the subway back to Grand Central and changed to the Flushing Line to 74th Street in Queens and picked up the city bus to LGA
. I then took the Brannif B-727 flight to TUC
, called the FBO who sent a car over to pick me up, exiting the car was my Chief Pilot, who was booked on the final leg of my Braniff flight to LAX
Dinners were placed on board and the fuel tanks on the JetStar were topped off, because it was about a little over 3 hour nonstop flight back to HPN
weather was calling for IFR minimums, so we checked with flight service every so often on the trip back. Since the weather was going up and down and some airplanes were landing at HPN
, we were allowed to do the approach, but at that time it fell below minimums so we had no choice but to do a missed approach and with our fuel starting to get low decided to divert to EWR
was our planned alternate, but both LGA
had arrival delays, but EWR
was not experiencing any delays so that why were choose to divert to EWR
. By the time we hit the outer maker, all 4 low fuel warning lights were on, so if we had to do a go around we could have been in trouble.
We parked the JetStar at the FBO in EWR
, rented a car and drove back to the White Plains train station, where I had left my car that morning, then he drove the rental and I drove my car back to HPN
, finally getting there around midnight, where the other pilot got into his car and drove to Willow Grove for his 6:00 am departure.
The next day I called another JetStar captain I knew, and we drove the rental car back to EWR
and ferried the JetStar back home and the next day started on the major inspection.
Just another day in the life of a corporate pilot.