Chicken Wings Classic – I’ve got a squawk

This classic strip idea came from back when I was still very actively working as an airplane mechanic at a little flight school. We were working on all kinds of planes of all shapes and sizes and also had a lot of “squawks” from students that turned out not to be a problem with the aircraft at all (for example, the transponder rarely transmits a return in the “OFF” mode). In the midst of all this small flight school madness I had students and instructors alike stop by on their way back from the flight line (the hangar happened to be between the ramp and the office) and just verbally tell me what they had found wrong on their plane that day. It was convenient for them and who wants to ground the airplane for something that might not turn out to be a big deal, right?! But guess how much of that I remembered if 12 people told me something about 5 different planes all while doing 2 different inspections on 2 more planes?

Not much.

The other guys and I actually got in the habit of just responding with “Huh! That’s interesting” to every one of the squawks and concentrated on the ones that were written down and came to us through a work order. It was the only way to keep us on track without getting pulled into a hundred different directions. Also, it worked in our favor if something didn’t get fixed and the pilots complained. We asked them “Well, did you write it down?” and they said “No, but you said you’ll take a look” or “you said you’ll fix it”. Then we could say “Did I really say that? Or did I just say – Huh! That’s interesting” ? HAHA

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5 comments on “Chicken Wings Classic – I’ve got a squawk
  1. Captain Dunsel says:

    I got into the habit of telling teachers to send me an e-mail about the problem, otherwise I’d forget it (I routinely carried a memo pad, but I never told them — it was for what I wanted to remember). My boss was good; if I told him I’d spent the morning fixing x number of computer problems, he believed me. But, I told the teachers that I needed the e-mails, so I could show what I’d been doing.

    On the other hand, that brings up the really dumb things I ran into. Stuff like a computer that wouldn’t turn on, because the surge suppressor was plugged into itself, the teacher who twice in ONE day called me to fix a dead computer…only to find they weren’t plugged in (and the cords were plainly visible).

    Or, the teachers who complained their e-mail was down. When I got to their rooms, I found the reason their e-mail was down was because the computer wouldn’t turn on….Most of those were unplugged/surge suppressor turned off, too.


  2. Dopey says:

    This one actually scares me. Went to get some specialized training–the airplane I was flying was on a 135 certificate. On Preflight inspection found a used cotter pin on a step just aft of the cowl of the airplane. Asked the instructor (also an A&P) about it–he said that he had re-rigged the prop control the day before. I pointed out there was nothing in the log books I had just looked at. His response was “[Director Of Maintenance] saw me working on it.” If I would have known then what I know now I would have called the whole thing off right then–gotta have a paper trail!

  3. Fred Wedemeier says:

    This seems to put you in a no-win situation. Respond to every verbal squawk and quality of your work goes down. Ignore everything (“I heard some kind of fluttering sound behind me when I landed”) and you could be held responsible for an accident. Hope there was some middle ground for cases like that.

  4. Johsua says:

    Sounds like something a student pilot would do. They do exactly what you tell them, so if you tell them to make a 90 degree turn you better be prepared to see that Cessna fly knife edge. Or write “that” down.

  5. Merijn@home says:

    All ducks squawk and all duck squawks sound the same.
    When it sounds different it is probably a goose or a moorhen.
    What would you expect in Chickenwings?

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