We owe thanks to our Original Employees for many of the traits our current Employees possess. Probably foremost of the traits they passed down to us is the Warrior Spirit. We know they struggled against all odds, while surviving those treacherous early years. Their heritage is the airline we operate today. And, we also have a pictorial record of their struggles and triumphs. For me, that is one of the most rewarding parts of my new position is sharing these little seen photographic records of our Employees creating a new way to travel by air. This week we look at Maintenance and the concept of “all hands on deck.”
Our first photo is this beautifully back-lit photo of our Mechanics working on a JT-8D on one of our 737-200s. It looks like the photo was taken after January 1974 because the concourse in the background has had all its jetbridges removed after the other airlines moved to DFW. I think the lighting lends a heroic mood to this photo.
No, airplanes don’t have feet growing out of them. The Mechanic, whose feet can be seen in the center of the photo, is sitting inside the avionics bay of our fourth 737-200, N23SW. This compartment is crammed full with radios, navigation devices, and onboard computers. There’s very little room for the Mechanic.
The photo above is the forward end of a Pratt & Whitney JT-8D that was used to power the 737-200. Because the engines of all models of the 737 are mounted so close to the ground, airlines have established “safety zones” in the area of the engine’s intake and exhaust; from the cabin, the painting on the ramp looks like a big fan. All ground equipment and personnel have to remain clear of this area until the engine stops.
Aircraft parts come in all sizes, from four-foot tires to parts measured in millimeters. Each one of those parts has to be certified for a specific aircraft, and they have to be stored in an easily accessible inventory. Today, these parts inventories and descriptions are computerized, but in 1974, it was a manual process. This Stores Employee is looking for a 737 part in the master inventory catalog.
The man hanging out of the cockpit window isn’t an ordinary Employee. He is Jack Vidal, our first Vice President of Maintenance & Engineering. This isn’t a posed shot; he is out on the line helping prepare this aircraft for departure. This is one of the earliest photographic captures of the “all hands on deck” response, when everyone rolls up his or her sleeves to step in and help.