Part of my duties of preparing the aircraft for flight, is an external pre-flight of the aircraft. I basically just walk around the plane and make sure there aren’t big chunks missing, puddles forming, and ensure it’s ready and safe for flight. I have a fancy neon green jumper that I get to wear. This ensures that no crazed ramp worker runs me over, and I believe in enhances my overall appeal.
Most of the time there is nothing too exciting about the pre-flight. I found a puddle of hydraulic fluid under one of the main landing gear once. Turned out to be a strut leak, and we had to get a different aircraft. Another time I had to close a panel that was left open, really exciting stuff.
Yesterday I found a box outside the aircraft on the baggage loader. On the outside of it was labeled ‘Perishable human tissue’ and ‘Kidney’. Now this isn’t very far out of the ordinary for airlines. Transporting human tissue, organs, blood, whichever, not too uncommon. However this was the first time I had ever had the opportunity to do this.
Normally a flight will be chartered for the purpose of transporting human organs, I guess they couldn’t get a charter lined up in time, or we were the only flight available at the time. Either way it was pretty cool to know that we were going to be helping somebody out.
Once I finished my pre-flight, I returned to the cockpit to finish the rest of my work before we depart. When I got the clearance for our flight, it was appended to the bottom that we were to be a ‘LifeGuard’ flight. This basically gives us a high priority over other traffic. The kidney we were transporting was probably going for a transplant or the packaging it was in had a time limit before it would ‘expire’.
So for the nearly 1 hour flight, I was ‘LifeGuard’. It might have been insignificant to anyone else, but to me it was an immense feeling of service.