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The Buzz in the Hangar

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One weekend evening we had some guests join us in the Dallas Maintenance Hangar. Somehow, a swarm of bees found their way inside the vertical stabilizer (tail) of one of the airplanes that was in for a scheduled maintenance visit. While they were flying around the tail, no Maintenance work could be done so SWA called in the professionals. Mr. Bee Keeper soon arrived with a hat net on his head and a can of smoke in his hand. He found his way onto the tail of the airplane and started to smoke the bees out. That's when it got interesting. Mr. Bee Keeper must never have had to extract bees from the tail of an airplane before because, for a split second, he used the extension tool that holds the can of smoke to hit the tail of the airplane to get the bees to move around. The mechanics, who were observing this activity, quickly yelled before he damaged a 5-year old 737-700. (There was no damage to the tail.) The bees were eventually removed, and the work started again. The Bee Keeper then received a tour around the airplane and began asking different questions. Now, I've worked around airplanes for a long time and I take for granted that the general public has an understanding of how an airplane operates. Not Mr. Bee Keeper-- he thought the wheels drive the airplane down the runway like a car. One of our mechanics explained that it's actually the engine thrust that moves the airplane down the runway. Then Mr. Bee Keeper said he saw the reason why the airplane was there to be fixed... because both of the wings were bent. SWA wingtipThe mechanic explained that the wings were designed that way. The bent wingtips are called blended winglets and they help with the aircraft's overall fuel efficiency among other things. A mechanic could not have extracted those bees safely so we thank Mr. Bee Keeper for knowing his profession, and the moral to this story is that we both need to keep our day jobs.
26 Comments
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Gordon, How often do the winglets get structural tested? More than the rest of the plane? Less? The same time as a "C" or "D" check? I know they're pretty new so I was just wandering.
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Maybe the bees were looking for some Wild Turkey!
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Welcome to the blogosphere. This is a place where you engage in dialogue and become enriched for the experience. There is a conversation going on about this blog and what it covers. I encourage you to join in on it.
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Bees, huh? Interesting post. Now, can we please have some posts from flight attendants and pilots? I'll admit, I'm biased. -Q of S
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just wanted to let You know , my family and friends are ardent admires of SWA and just wish (of course not possibe) that You would fly to all our destinations Keep up the good work and I am looking forward to seeing more ofd Your BLOG on line Elizabeth Keehner
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Dear Queen of Sky, Your Royal Majesty will be pleased to know that Pilot and Flight Attendant posts are on the way. As you know, their schedules keep them in the air, and away from computers, but you will see them. A loyal subject of the ground!
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Travis, We Inspect the winglets on a routine basis during "C" and "D" checks. "C" checks are a visual and with "D" checks we look internally with special cameras. Thanks for your comment. Gordon
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Nice article, and congratulations to Southwest for the blog site. I've linked you over at www.hangarview.com and keep the stories coming.
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anyone want to know anything about the toilet system on a boeing 737?
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Interesting story. I've had a swarm of bees flying around my car. There was a hive just on the inside of my fuel door.
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Kudos to you guys for starting this - it's getting off to a good start, something that I'd expect from LUV. I've been a fan of LUV since I did a case study in B school, and have spread the gospel to Japan. Although I must admit that I've written and talked about LUV more than I flew LUV... Keep the good stuff coming, and hope to see you guys on a real flight soon.
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Very interesting post! I often find the world of Maintenance very intriguing and somewhat secretive. It's nice to see something from inside the hangar doors.
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[...] For those of you who read Gordon’s post about bees, you will remember he mentioned winglets. One of our Customers recently sent us these stunning inflight views of these fuel-saving devices, and we thought that they would give you a big lift! Thanks to Paul von Heeder in Dallas for sharing these with us! [...]
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Many years ago, I was working in TPA. We had a hive of bees decide to make a cart of trash thier new home. The problem was, it was right by a jetway. There were hundreds of bees flying in the area the forward bin beltloader would be parked. Several ramp agents would be in that area unloading bags. I did not tell anyone that I used to help the beekeepers on a farm when I was a kid, I just slowly pulled it away. It was fun to be "cool" for a few days!
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Gordon, good story. I miss reading the stories from 737 doctor on airliners.net. You prbably don't know who that person is, but he posted a lot of cool pictures from the inside.
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Joe Friedmann, The 737 doctor is a friend of mine; heÃ
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Thanks Gordon. Don't need/want to know his name. Just miss his postings and pictures of the hangers and planes being inspected.
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I am convinced you are so very worthy an airline that I invite you to fly in and out of lovely, little, but wonderful, Santa Barbara Airport. Please, please, please. I love my airport and Southwest, let's bring them together. Tony
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What are the possibilities of placing a handle on the forward wall of the aft toilet? There is one on the side wall, but I am a little on the large side, and with the close confines in the toilets, the side handle does very little in being able to stand back up when in flight after using the toilet. A handle in front of a person, rather than on the side, would make it easier to pull yourself up from... Just a thought... 🙂
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Hi. Well how do I start..... I would really like to work for Southwest maintenance. I don't care where, I am red ready willing and able to relocate. I have applied online several times but I havent heard anything from anyone. I am an experienced A/P mechanic, I'm hardworking, loyal, and love to have fun while working. I feel I would be a perfect fit at Southwest. I've worked for other Airlines/Manufacturers and my co-workers there all lacked the passion that I have. Can someone here please give me some advice on where to send my resume or who to get in touch with in order to get noticed? I can be contacted directly at: azokone@yahoo.com Thanks, and loking forward to hearing from someone!
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Rusty, I think your "cool" everyday! Doreen
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Good story Gordon, I am the beekeeper that got the bees out of the tail wing. We had to find out where they were and then I used my bee vac to safely remove them. I have a lot of great pics on my web site www.natureking .com. I'm not only a beekeeper but a snake handler, animal trapper and wildlife management expert. And of course, your regular pest control guy. If anyone should need me go to the site and e-mail or give me a call. Working for SWA was a real treat. The maintenace team was like a family. Everyone was just great! Thanks for everything! Mark Sanders at Natureking.com 214-827-0090
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[...] Southwest is at it again - positively leveraging Web 2.0. One of their bloggers wrote about bees (yes the insects) getting into airplanes while grounded, and sometimes even into the cockpit. Well, the Wall Street Journal picked it up today. [...]
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Does anyone know about whats happning with the hiring for A&P's at Midway?
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[...] One Southwest blogger shared an experience of a bee nest forming on the tail of a plane. Traditional press picked up on this and even quoted Southwest as “Bees on a plane” [...]
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There was a small swarm of bees on a Southwest flight in March of 2008! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CMpblfrAeo