Release The "#*&%$#*!" Parking Brake

by Norm Viehweg
Remember Red-Ball-Trucks? At Carswell AFB one day we were riding the Maintenance Expeditor's red-ball-truck and parked beside a B-58 with engines running preparing to taxi. I noticed that the tie-down-chains were still installed to the rear of the main landing gear. Tie-down-chains were normal procedure after a B-58 jumped the chocks and slid sideways during engine run-up one day. However, the thought crossed my mind that with a flight crew on board and engines running, this was not normal.

Who was I to say? -- me just a lowly three-striper out ranked on all sides. I noticed, the crew chief was out front marshaling the aircraft out of the parking spot. How could this be? Where was he going with the tie-down-chains still installed?

We had blast-fences at the parking spots so high power runs were authorized on the parking ramp. AH-ha!! he must be doing a high-power-setting Ops-check or something. But why was the crew chief signaling for him to taxi out? The pilot advanced the throttles several times to high power settings and of course the bird didn't go anywhere.

The next thing I knew, the crew chief ran to our red-ball truck and yelled for a red-ball hydraulic man to look at the brakes.

"What's wrong with brakes," the driver asked? The crew chief screamed back that the brakes would not release.

All right, OK, that's it, I finally broke silence and told the crew chief that he still had the tie-down-chairs installed on the main landing gear. I felt like the little boy saying the King has no clothes on.

The look on the Chief's face was priceless. His expressions went from "What are you talking about" to "Oh shit" to "total disbelief" to "Oh my God!!!!"

Of course with engines running and brakes released, the tension on the tie-down-chains made it impossible to disconnect the chains. And heaven knows, when you had the engines running for the launch of a B-58, you never wanted to take the chance of shutting them down.

As a result, the whole truck crew bailed out and grabbed the chocks to use like pry-bars in front of the main gear trucks, in an attempt to roll the aircraft back enough (engines still running) to release the tension enough on the tie-down chains to allow the crew chief to unhook them.

Amazingly, it worked, and the aircraft made the all-important on-time-take-off. I'm certain the incident went a long way to instill confidence in the air crew that their ground crew had given them a good aircraft to fly.