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!…”