Thanks so much 113312. I really appreciate it!
When I was a teenager I read a lot of books on how to be a flight engineer, how to ace the F/E test for the B727, tricks for passing the 727 F/E written exam and so on. I read them but did not study them, did not memorize them, did not take the practice tests.
A kind heart FedEx Flight Engineer took me aboard a 727 being serviced in Albuquerque. He tried to explain the F/E panel to me in terms a young person with no knowledge and experience could understand, tried to show the logic of how the various systems were arranged, how the scan flow went. He explained little things to me like "valve in transit" lights, paralleling generators, bus ties and bus tie breakers, what popped circuit breakers looked like, press to test slat position indicators and stuff.
The plane was externally powered so I actually saw the lights on the panel go on, go on and off, change color. Blue, red and amber. He tried to explain the logic of things. What does declining quantity but not low pressure mean? What would indicate a clogged filter. What would indicate a leak or stuck valve? I thought he was the smartest man in the world. It was so amazing to a young person like me. A memory I treasure to this day.
A Continental Airlines Flight Attendant in El Paso took me along for his walk-around of a Boeing 727-100, showing me what he was looking at and looking for. His name was Skip.. I wrote to Continental Airlines to commend him and they wrote me back to thank me for my praise.
This was all before 9/11. Never got to ride jump seat on any airliner. Although it was before 9/11, security was starting to ramp up because of hijackings. It was amazing to walk around the Boeing 727. It seemed huge to me at the time. When the F/E was walking around the 27 he looked on the ground under the wing. I naively asked him what he was looking for. He said "Drips that shouldn't be there." What a great time to be young and interested in airliners!