Unbelievable Offduty Delta Mechanic notices GA Maintenance Issue from the Ground

David Loftus

Pre-Flight
Joined
Jan 1, 2021
Messages
92
Location
Johns Creek, GA
Display Name

Display name:
dmloftus
Last night I had the most unbelievable and unique exchange on Facebook Messenger. I had just flown home to KLZU from KPNS, where I and two friends had just flown down for the day to watch the Blue Angels Homecoming Airshow. I crossed the KATL Bravo at 4500 feet, where I passed over this gentleman's house. Around 9pm I got the first message.

BEGINNING
Delta: If you own N868US, your plane flew over my house at roughly 19:45 tonight and your red and green nav lights are backwards. Please double check them.

Me: Where do you live, how did you assess that, how did you get my contact information?

Delta: Ok I live in Fayetteville ga
I was looking for a usps package on my porch when I saw the plane
I looked up the plane on flightradar24 to get the N number. I looked up N number on FAA website gave me the company that owned the plane. I look up the llc and your name was the agent. Looked the name up on fb and I saw you flying an airplane and hoped it might be you. I'm a mechanic at Delta airlines.

Me: Wow, that’s some great detective work. Please forgive my questions, we have been victims of identity fraud multiple times so I am cautious with any anonymous contact. You are exactly right. I had LED lights installed last year at my annual and it looks like they put them on backwards. The year before they reinstalled my nose gear wheel backwards. I’m sure as a Delta mechanic you perform at a much higher level than my shop. Incredibly perceptive of you to catch that. BTW, I actually had a Delta pilot on board with me tonight. We were returning from Pensacola where we saw the Blue Angels today. Thanks for reaching out.

Delta: I'm glad I could help. As an aviation enthusiast my whole life and second generation delta mechanic, I'm always looking to the sky. Fly safe.

Me: Thanks. I just texted my Delta pilot friend and told him Delta has some great mechanics.
END

I've been flying with the lights on the wrong sides for over a year! Needless to say, I will be thanking Delta for employing some fantastic A&P's with incredible attention to detail.
 
Wow!
IMG_2114.JPG
 
Port, left, red. Starboard, right, green. In each case the words have more letters. It’s how I’ve remembered which side is which.

Cool story!
 
'Port wine is red!' (Actually, its more of a brownish. If its green though, throw it out!)


I could never let that go. Being also a sailor, I gripe about the folks that put red and green lights backwards outside their garage doors. Its always "red-right-returning".
 
Red Right is Wrong. That is how I remember it.

Although a friend had a conversation with a Capt of another major US airline who insisted that the red light was on the starboard wing.
 
I could never let that go. Being also a sailor, I gripe about the folks that put red and green lights backwards outside their garage doors. Its always "red-right-returning".
I don't get it. What if you back into your garage?
 
That's a really cool story. It likely won't happen again, and probably has never happened before.

I think it's easier (and more useful) to remember who has the right of way in cruise, then you know that the red light has to be on the left wing. No need to add another memory device.
 
To me, If your A&P puts the lights on backwards and nose wheel on backwards and doesn’t catch it, maybe it’s time to get a new A&P.

Why? He didn't crash because of it? :rolleyes:

On another thread we've been told low standards for A&P's is acceptable.
 
I saw the same thing once on a boat a few years ago. I was Officer of the Deck entering Port Aransas, Texas and it was that time of morning that all the charter boats were headed out and it was before sunrise. This one pair of lights just didn't make sense in all the noise and as he passed me port-to-port I realized the problem. His sidelights were reversed. I called him up on the radio and he was surprised to confirm the lights were indeed wrong and nobody had noticed up to that point. His boat had been renewed after Hurricane Harvey which was a little over a year prior to that. It's certainly an easy-to-make mistake that can turn into a much larger problem...but it seems to go unnoticed when it happens.
 
Wait a sec. This is a Diamond DA40. You don't pre-flight your NAV lights or do post-maintenance checks?
I don't get it. What if you back into your garage?
Keep the red buoy/marker/light that was placed in the channel to your right when returning to harbor, left if going out to sea. You should be looking out the back window when reversing. :)

But "red right returning" also applies if you are an observer and the air/water craft is headed (returning) to you.

Red PAPI light(s) on the right as well. If on the left, you are too low. If the right-hand light is white then you're too high.
 
Last edited:
Is it just me or is someone else also impressed you actually remembered to turn your lights on? I swear 10% of people on the road and in the air have no clue
 
Wait a sec. This is a Diamond DA40. You don't pre-flight your NAV lights or do post-maintenance checks?
I wondered this...not that I consciously check the nav lights are on the correct side with every flight (only that they are working), but after an LED replacement??? You bet I would!
 
Red PAPI light(s) on the right as well. If on the left, you are too low. If the right-hand light is white then you're too high.
One of my instructors used to say "red over white, everything is alright. All red your dead"
So when started flying I took my wife for her first flight I was telling her that on approach when talking about the papi. As we all know the glide slope is to the middle of the runway. She was a little concerned(freaked out) when it went all red on short short final. I should have keep my mouth shut.

My picture above was right after I installed led nav lights. I replaced them one at a time so it would pretty hard to get them mixed up.

But I have to admit I probably would not have noticed either if they were crossed up.
 
Last edited:
Keep the red buoy/marker/light that was placed in the channel to your right when returning to harbor, left if going out to sea.

Unless of course you're in that large majority of the world (Region A) where it's the other way around. If I remember correctly it's only the Americas and sundry other places (all in Region B) that your rule will work. After decades of sailing in both Australia and Britain, it was difficult at first for me to adapt to the very strange colour reversal while sailing the Chesapeake back in the 1990's…
 
That's pretty impressive detective work! Now, I hate to be that guy, but how thorough of a pre-flight are we doing out there?!
 
Isn't it great to know that there are conscientious mechanics working for one of the major airlines who, when off duty, are still thinking about safety? And isn't it great to know that those who take that safety to such a level of concern that they would take the time while away from work to reach out to someone they did not know, and frankly may never meet, to let them know of a simple yet possibly tragic mistake?

How many other people both on the line and while flying, have seen these lights and never said a thing - because they were not thinking about safety?

Delta Airlines should be proud to have this person representing their operations and maintenance.
 
Unless of course you're in that large majority of the world (Region A) where it's the other way around. If I remember correctly it's only the Americas and sundry other places (all in Region B) that your rule will work. After decades of sailing in both Australia and Britain, it was difficult at first for me to adapt to the very strange colour reversal while sailing the Chesapeake back in the 1990's…
Then in that case it's "red right retreating". Good way to remember is that American's don't turn tail from a good fight. :)
 
I will be thanking Delta for employing some fantastic A&P's with incredible attention to detail.
In my experience, its more on the person than the employers when it comes to these types of qualities. Most operators have an equal number of mechanics, etc. who go the extra mile even outside of work as well. I think its more an ingrained quality than a taught one.
But also give yourself some credit for accepting and thanking his outreach. Unfortunately, there are owners, etc. who react the opposite which makes you wonder if its worth the effort sometimes.
 
Why? He didn't crash because of it? :rolleyes:

On another thread we've been told low standards for A&P's is acceptable.

The actual job of attaching the LED lights was not complex, though. To their point.

Doing a simple job badly is sort of the summary of that other thread to me -- and here it is in glowing style. :D
 
So as a follow on to this. For those of us out there flying at night, if you see a singular red light, what does that tell you? Any boaters or sailors in this forum? What about a green light? There is a reason they're two different colors and have specific sides to go on..
 
In all the planes I've preflighted for night, my sole concern was that the light actualy lit. I'd have missed this every time.
I always check the left wing first so I’m conditioned to expect red before green (The Red Green Show). It helps that I had to deal with an intermittent red light for a few weeks last year.
 
The actual job of attaching the LED lights was not complex, though. To their point.

Doing a simple job badly is sort of the summary of that other thread to me -- and here it is in glowing style. :D
I missed that thread; which one was it?
 
So as a follow on to this. For those of us out there flying at night, if you see a singular red light, what does that tell you? Any boaters or sailors in this forum? What about a green light? There is a reason they're two different colors and have specific sides to go on..
That at least one light on the plane is working and it’s a red one. I wouldn’t draw any conclusions unless I see the whole picture which includes other lights. Unless of course that one red light is not moving in my windshield and keeps getting bigger.
 
In all the planes I've preflighted for night, my sole concern was that the light actualy lit. I'd have missed this every time.
Yup, despite all of the “I can’t believe you didn’t catch this on your preflight” comments here, I’d bet 9 out 10 pilots wouldn’t either. You’re looking to make sure it’s working and not cracked, but you’re assuming they are on the correct sides.
 
So as a follow on to this. For those of us out there flying at night, if you see a singular red light, what does that tell you? Any boaters or sailors in this forum? What about a green light? There is a reason they're two different colors and have specific sides to go on..
It tells me that I don't have the ROW over the aircraft attached to that light . . .
 
Years ago (circa 1988), there was an old Lockheed Constellation flying out of MIA running cargo back and forth to the Dominican Republic. One evening, right at dusk, I was standing at the departure end of 09L when this Connie took off. At first, I couldn't believe my eyes, but I noticed that the red and green navigation lights had been reversed. I drove over to the freight facility and told the manager about the lights and he promised that he'd call ahead to the DR to have the lights fixed while the airplane was on the ground there. Sure enough, as I watched the plane take off the next evening, I noticed that the nav lights were correct.
 
Then in that case it's "red right retreating".

Nah, it's just easier remembering that in Region A (i.e. the rest of the world) you keep the vessel's red light on the same side as the channel's red lights or red buoys or markers when heading for port… That was so ingrained in me for my first thirty years it was a bit of a shock discovering there was a part of the world where that wasn't true.
 
A man walks into a bar and asks for some red port. The bartender says "I'm sorry sir, we have no RED PORT LEFT". Heard that decades ago, now that's the only way I remember it.
 
Back
Top