Short Final: Some More Light Humor


While I was working in the admissions department for East Coast Aero Tech (now part of the National Aviation Academy) at Hanscom Field in Bedford, Mass., I was having some trouble with the flashing beacon on the tail of my 1973 Grumman Trainer. At times, ground controllers would tell me the beacon wasn’t working as I taxied to or from the runway. But it was intermittent—one of the dirtiest words in a maintenance technician’s vocabulary. And it almost always worked fine when the engine wasn’t running.

I had taken it apart and scraped the connections, hoping to solve the problem, but I needed some help because, even with the sliding canopy wide open, I couldn’t really see the beacon from the cockpit seat. One of the more clever ECAT instructors was passing by and I asked him if he could have a look and tell me if the beacon was working. He said, sure.

I started up, flipped on the switch and looked over at him. Above the sound of the engine, he hollered, “It’s working! … it’s not working … It’s working! … it’s not working … It’s working!…”

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Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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  1. My intermittent beacon was caused by a loose connection from the flasher unit to the bulb. It worked fine when the engine was off, but was intermittent when the engine was running. I fixed it by bending the wires into a position where the beacon worked 100% of the time and secured them with a zip tie.