Sunday, May 03, 2015

Unexpected Visitor

A Schweitzer 300C prepares to leave after paying a visit to the facility.
Drill this weekend was livened up a bit by a visit from this S300 operated by a local flight school.  They were passing near the facility on a photo flight when the pilot noticed an unusual vibration and a reduction in engine performance.  This is not the sort of thing you want to be troubleshooting in flight and the pilot wisely decided to make a precautionary landing.  Nearby Sky Harbor tower pointed out our facility as the nearest safe place to put down, which he did.  The pilot and photographer were then introduced to Army paperwork and spent some time talking with Operations, Security and the Phoenix police while waiting for a company mechanic to come out and look at the problem.  (No, they weren't in trouble, it's just that the right process has to be followed.) As it turned out they had a fouled spark plug, a not unknown condition with that type of engine.  After fresh plugs were installed and the ship tested, they proceeded on their way back to their home airport.  While it was a bit of an administrative hassle for them, at least they didn't land at an Air Force base where security rolls out with loaded machine guns when an unexpected civilian aircraft shows up for whatever reason.  We enjoyed the visit, and this being the first time this had happened at the facility Operations developed a standard operating procedure to use should it happen again.  Good job on the pilot who made the correct decision for the situation.

5 comments:

Vicki Hodge said...

WOW - That's awesome! This pilot deserves a raise!!!

David Kitts said...

Thank you all for the hospitality. Glad that I could help with a new SOP, lol. But in all seriousness, thank you all for the hospitality, assistance and professionalism exhibited be everyone there. Nice job by all.

Pogue said...

Vicki - People are quick to second guess pilots from the comfort of their easy chairs, it's only right to point out one of the many good decisions pilots routinely make.

David - No problem, we're predisposed to like helicopters at the facility. :-)

virgil xenophon said...

I guess the legacy of Curt LeMay and SAC is still very much with my old Air Force. LOL.

Pogue said...

Hi Virgil! Yeah, even at the aux field at Gila Bend I think the Security Force looks forward to terrifying the private pilot that mistakes it for Gila Bend Muni. A side from the occasional broke F-16 or A-10 the only things with wings out there are planesickles.