Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Fall cleaning!

It was 67 degrees and raining today (third day in a row of rain), which made it a perfect day to wash the airplane!

Although, I did hit culture shock when I asked a pilot on the airport "Where's the non-potable tap?"
"The what?"
"The non-potable tap? You know, for washing the airplane?"
I got a very funny look back. So I asked another pilot, who looked confused and aimed me at a third.

He grinned, and said "We don't have non-potable on the airport. It's all purified, off the city water." As my eyebrows started climbing to my hairline at the idea of wasting potable water on washing, his eyes were crinkling up in suppressed laughter. Fortunately, he continued on to outline where the airport had not one, but something like 6 taps around the hangars. "You're welcome to taxi over and use the hose outside my hangar - just wash the plane on the taxiway, so you keep the greasy belly dirt off my white apron!"

How do you wash an airplane with a hose? I'm not sure what to do with an abundance of water.  So I did it the way I know best. First, I rolled the airplane out into the rain to get wet. Then, I found the nearest tap, and filled the bucket three-quarters full, lugged it back, and added a good amount of aluminum-safe soap. Taking the nifty mop-like scrubber, dunk, and start at the top of the airplane, working my way down to the dirty belly.

Although, North Texas has such an abundance of dirt in the air, and I haven't flown the plane enough, so for the first time in my life the top of the wings were dirtier than the belly. That just ain't right.

When finished with the first pass, I emptied the very dirty water where we don't want plants growing anyway, then rinsed out the bucket, refilled it, and added just a little soap. Then I washed a second time, really cleaning now that most of the dirt had been removed and bird poop had time to soak.

I could have done a third pass with just water, but my arms were killing me. (The gym this morning was squats and overhead presses. Next time I wash the plane, maybe I'll do squats and deadlifts instead? Or be brilliant and wash her on a day I'm not already tired from the gym!)  So instead I called my father, and chatted with him about sacrificial anodes in water heaters and the newest high-tech paints which have ammonia that flashes off when applied, leaving behind an acid-based polymerization to create a film on the wall instead of ground pigment particles suspended in a drying medium, like... the entire history of paint before now.You know, standard daddy-daughter conversations.

After fourty minutes or so, we rang off, and I judged the airplane rinsed enough by mother nature, and pushed my dripping bird back in the hangar.

I guess there must be another way to use a lot of potable water and clean planes quickly. Maybe someday I'll acclimatize to the Lower 48 and think it's normal?


  1. Naw, you're an Alaskan through and through. What they take for granted will always seem a bit ... off ... to you. After all, you don't wanna be spoiled by the trappings of too much civilization. :)

  2. LOL, you didn't just use the rain? How gauche! :-D

  3. I feel guilty every time I waste water, knowing how precious potable water is. And I've never been near Alaska, unfortunately.

    Growing up in Mexico makes you conscious of the erratic nature of electricity, water, and gas. This is not a bad thing - my sister always kept a bucket in the shower stall, so that if the water in the roof tank ran out halfway through a shower, she could rinse the soap off. And that bucket water was necessary for flushing more often than you'd think.

  4. I have to retrain myself when I visit my cousin who has a cabin up in the high mountains in California Northwest of Reno. (and yes, her place is what I based the physical location of my novella in Calexit on). Water was really scarce on my last visit there, and we didn't waste a drop.