26 June 2008

Dispatches from the Line Mk.III

Speaking of Wind...

I am reminded of a story that took place quite a few years ago. Michigan summers can get brutal, and this day was all that and then some. Working outside on black pavement did not help out at all, either, so there we were, slogging through the oppressive heat as best we could, drinking gallons and gallons of water just to lose it all through our pores.

We knew it was going to storm. We had been lazily watching the weather on the computer, watching the system move across Wisconsin. We had seen this kind of thing before, and really didn't think much of it right away.

It got weird when we got a call from one of our employees who lived in Holland. He was calling to warn us about the violent storms heading our way. He was actually in his basement, and had lost power.

We then looked closer the radar loop we had, and decided that it would be prudent to start rolling up the windows on all our vehicles, perhaps close the hangar doors before the storm hit. I was on the ramp, outside, walking to one of our trucks to roll the windows up when I saw it coming.

The wind picked up more than I have ever seen it pick up. It went from dead still to gusting probably close to 25-30 mph, nearly instantaneously. I felt stinging sand blast me as I ran to the truck in a vain attempt to close the windows before the rain came. I happened to glance up in time to see the rain running us down from across the ramp. Usually you can kinda see where the rain is, and you can watch it approach. But this was a rain wall. I have not seen one before or since. This was an angry, gray, violent, nearly solid wall of precipitation. I could not see buildings on the other side of it. As I watched, the rest of the airport and our ramp disappeared behind the curtain of water.

I was instantly soaked from head to toe, and I hadn't even made it to the truck yet. I finally did, laughing that it was probably pointless now anyway, and ran to help close the hangar doors.

On my way there, my supervisor yelled above the wind and rain that there was an aircraft out on the ramp that was not tied down, and could I go tie it down please. So I turned around and began running against the wind to tie down this airplane.

The wind was still gusting violently, and the rain was making it nearly impossible to see anything. As I neared the aircraft, which was a fairly large aircraft that weighs nearly 5,000 pounds empty, the wind gusted strong enough to turn the aircraft towards me! It jumped over the chocks in front of the wheels, and began to roll towards me.

I turned around and ran the other way. The last thing I wanted to do was to get run over by an empty airplane!

We went out later and measured, and this big airplane had moved just over ten feet from where we had parked it, as well as turned 90 degrees from the direction we had parked it in.


1 comment:

-Tim said...

Yeah, that's more... a figure of speach. :-) I don't really see myself posting on that topic. Now I just got to get caught up on reading all my friends blogs and finishing the 3 "in progress" posts that I have been working on.