Four Things I Learned from an MAF Mechanic

In talking with one of our aviation maintenance instructors here at MAF headquarters, I discovered that some tips could be applied to life as well. Here are four things I’ve learned about life via plane maintenance.

plane maintenance #1 The Tootsie Roll Theory. Talk to the guys in the maintenance or safety divisions here at MAF headquarters and you’re likely to hear about the Tootsie Roll Theory. A variation on one of the candy’s old ads—Works good, lasts a long time—has become a motto of sorts. It’s much easier to keep airplanes in good shape than it is to bring them back from the brink of death, so to speak.

Typically, things last longer when you take care of them: cars, appliances, homes, relationships. It takes more work to revive something than it does to keep it humming in the first place.

#2 If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t … right. A slight crack, a spring that no longer springs … If something seems amiss, it requires further investigation. Routine checks give MAF mechanics a chance to see things that might be out of the ordinary—a sign that something’s gone wrong. This gives them a chance to correct the problem before an engine has a complete failure.

Do a routine check of your relationships. Has your marriage lost its “spring”? Is there a crack (or gulf) forming? Does a friendship seem out of whack? Don’t ignore small, telltale signs. Spend time in prayer and seek His wisdom to find the underlying problem and address it head on. Fix it before it fails. (Refer back to point #1).

#3 Things just go better with Coca-Cola. This universally loved drink seems to be a staple at most locations where MAF serves. It‘s often even a token of friendship or hospitality. A certain MAF mechanic would offer to take over a task if he noticed someone was getting frustrated, or stuck … if you bought him a Coke in return.

Apparently, a little help from a friend, and maybe a cold soda (or Starbucks perhaps?) can help get the job done. Remember, we’re all in this together and no one has to go it alone. Plus, two heads are always better than one. That’s true in the hangar and in life. Accept help when it’s needed, and offer a little something in return. The favor may just come back to you.

#4 Keep it Clean … inside and out. At MAF’s remote airstrips there’s mud and dirt and sometimes yucky river-bottom stuff. And then there’s the livestock that wander onto MAF’s airstrips and leave liquid (and not-so-liquid) deposits, which have been known to “spray paint” our planes. This stuff corrodes, so it’s important for the planes to get exterior washings. And for our turbine-engine planes, a daily engine flush is needed to keep deposits from forming.

While personal hygiene goes without saying, a daily “cleansing” includes looking at the junk that’s bombarding us externally and affecting us internally. Be aware of outside influences that might be corroding your relationship with Christ and be sure to go through the “wash cycle” often. Ask the Lord to help you identify the junk so you can stay squeaky clean on the inside, too.

In life and in the hangar, careful maintenance goes a long way toward keeping things running smoothly and avoiding bigger problems.

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