On Final: Make Sure Your Holes Line Up

On Final: Make Sure Your Holes Line Up

Owning your own jet is pretty special. And when you fly one with a potty, you have arrived. I’m not talking about a popcorn bucket with a lid like the one in my Mustang, I am talking about one that has an electric motor and a button to push to make the fluid swirl around and around. It’s a fairly simple contraption that anyone of average intelligence like me can operate.

Or so I thought.

Like most pilots, I never use the thing. Instead, we use little plastic bags with absorbent material in the bottom, rolled up into a fist sized package. It all works remarkably well. But passengers sometimes think they need to see and hear that swirling liquid go round and round and try to figure out its final resting place. Normally, I tell passengers, “you use it, you clean it.” Ninety-nine percent of the time that is all the encouragement they need to use the bag.

But what do you tell your grandkids?

On several flights in the last few years I said, “OK, just don’t put any tissue in there.” Hayden, then age 5, and Evelyn, age 3, thought going #1 and watching the roaring rapids was just too cool. Every time they used the potty, it was the highlight of the flight. And after every use, someone is paid to empty, clean, and re-install the retaining tank underneath.

That someone would be me.

It’s easy. You just disconnect a “quick couple” hose, slide the tank out, carefully walk it out the cabin, empty and clean it, and perhaps put a little fresh smelling juice back in. Walk it back through the cabin, slide it back in its retaining tray, couple the hose, and voila you are set. During my three and a half year ownership of my CJ1+, I accomplished this feat about a half a dozen times. And we have already established that anyone of average intelligence can do it.

Evidently, I am somewhere below average.

What I did not realize is that although it appears to be a simple process, it requires some kind of an advanced degree in engineering. The hole in the retaining tank must line up with the hole in the potty seat. Of course this sounds simple. For someone of average intelligence.

Evidently, my holes didn’t exactly line up. I found this out during a major inspection called a “Doc 10” that happens about every 36 months.

“Mr. Miller, I have some bad news,” came the call from the Cessna maintenance guy. “Evidently, your holes didn’t line up.” “My ‘what’ didn’t line up?” I said. And what followed was an explanation of how important it is to line up your holes. “So, what happens when the holes don’t line up?”I asked. “I’ll send you a picture,” he said.

It was not a pretty picture.

“We can fix it, and the corrosion underneath on the floor, and the corrosion on the subfloor and other areas. Hopefully, we won’t have to remove the wing.” Remove the wing? I never even used the potty. But I didn’t line up the holes. And about $26,000 later, the repair was complete.

We don’t use the potty anymore.

Fly safe.

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