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Fetzer Valves and Ball Bearings

Posted on Tuesday, November 5th, 2019

Dave!The idea was simple, really... fly out tonight for a quick trip, then fly back home on Thursday morning.

And things started out totally great. Really they did. The weather was absolutely gorgeous for my drive over the mountains and I made it to Seattle Tacoma International Airport in record time. I then managed to find a parking spot at WallyPark in only 15 minutes (which sounds a lot easier than it is, even with a reservation). The TSA PreCheck line wasn't longer than the regular line (for once), so I even made it through security fairly quickly!

Score, right?

Eh...

The inbound flight was a little late, but they can "make it up in the air" so no harm no foul.

Then a valve wouldn't work that they need to pressurize the plane... or depressurize the plane... or something like that... so we headed back to the gate to wait for repairs.

My money was on it being the Fetzer valve. In which case I was hoping they had some ball bearings, 3-in-1 oil, gauze pads, and about ten quarts of anti-freeze (preferably Prestone) so we can get this show on the road...

Chevy Chase as G. Gordon Liddy from the movie Fletch Lives standing in front of an airplane and dressed as a flight mechanic.

So eventually they fixed the valve.

Then we went out onto the tarmac again.

Then the valve was still broken, so we went back to the gate again.

Then they decided it would be best to switch to an entirely different plane some hours later.

I was already going to be arriving pretty late, but now we were arriving four hours late on top of that. Which sounds bad until you think about how it's much better to have mechanical problems on the ground than in the air.

In a way... I’m disappointed at this missed opportunity I had here. I’ve seen many, many things in my decades of air travel. I’ve seen a fist-fight mid-flight. I’ve seen a fire in the galley while over the Pacific Ocean. I’ve been on a plane that’s had to make an emergency landing... twice. I’ve had police board the plane to remove a drunk passenger. I’ve been detoured to some random city four or five times. I’ve missed connecting flights more times than I can count. I’ve been trapped in cities for days because no flights were going out. I’ve even been in a “crash landing” where the plane ran off the runway and we had to be driven to the terminal on a bus (no emergency slide, darn it!). But I have never been in a cabin depressurization where the masks drop from the ceiling! Apparently this valve malfunction we had would have meant they could not pressurize the cabin (or something to do with cabin pressure) and maybe I finally could have checked that one off my list!

Oh well. Maybe on the way back?

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