Think TRUCK!

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"Think TRUCK, not car..."

by Bob (Ram) Muessig


     All airlines are required to have at least two persons in control of an aircraft, and often more than two. We’re going to discuss the responsibilities of these people as applied to RVs.

     The pilot, co-lilot, and navigator/flight engineer form a well-coordinated team, performing their functions as a single unit. You and your traveling companion(s) should do the same thing when preparing for a trip and when traveling.

     Prior to getting in the cockpit or behind the wheel, dig out that all-important "CHECKLIST". This is that valuable piece of paper which guides you in the "preflight" or pre-trip inspection of all items of importance, e.g.; engine systems, brakes, lights, fuel, coolant, doors, windows, etc., and allows you to be certain that all is in readiness for travel. Use this checklist as if your life depends on it, ‘cause it does. A pilot who does not use a checklist is considered to be bold (a fool), and the adage goes like this: "There are OLD pilots and BOLD pilots, but NO old, bold pilots." Now...substitute "RVers" for "pilots" in that old saying and you’ll have some idea of what I’m talking about. Use that checklist faithfully...ALL THE TIME!

     The pilot "drives" the plane, and the driver of the RV has the same basic job, but with the additional responsibilities of the flight engineer. the driver must be aware of AND monitor all systems during a trip. Things to watch are engine temperature (especially in Arizona in the summer), fuel status (everywhere), alternator output, RPM, speed, and many others. Sound like a lot? As my daddy used to say, "Son, driving is a FULL-TIME JOB!" He was right!

     Now, we come to the duties of the "co-pilot". the co-pilot shares the driving with the pilot when the pilot needs a break. You should share the driving, too. It’s not a safe, nor healthy, practice to spend all your time behind the wheel on long trips. That sort of thing could lead to health problems (thrombosis in the legs, stroke, heart attack) and dangerous driving on top of it all. Besides, you’re on vacation, so what’s the hurry?

     As you’re cruisin’ down the highway (fat, dumb, & happy like me), the co-driver does double-duty as "navigator", keeping track of where you are and where the next test, fuel, or food stops are. (And, if you’re a Harley nut, where the next motorcycle shop is, as well. You see, H-D doesn’t actually stand for Harley means "Hundred Dollars". Every time my bike goes into the shop..."Hundred Dollars!")

     There are some small, electronic calculator-type devices which may make the navigation job a little easier, and you’ll find them at many RV supply retail outlets. They’re also advertised in the many RV publications. They come programmed with all sorts of highway information, intersections, RV parks and directions to them, fuel and food services, rest areas, etc., and can be updated periodically for a nominal fee. But don’t rely totally on them. Be sure you have the appropriate maps available, too. If the battery in one of those gizmos goes "Pfffffft!", you’ll need the maps. A pilot doesn’t fly without charts, so don’t drive without maps.

     Most commercial air carriers also employ "crew personnel" - flight attendants - who check to make sure that food, blankets, pillows, etc. are loaded and stowed away. If you have kids, you may wish to assign some of these duties to them. Then, use the checklist to be sure it all got done. Not that you don’t trust your kids, of course, but you don’t want to leave anything to chance.

     As with aircraft, RVs have a limited amount of storage space available. "A place for everything, and everything in its place" is the rule to follow. If a fuse burns out, and you’ve put the spares away with the bedding, you might spend a long time sorting through everything you’ve got before you remember where those darned spares are! Keep the fuses with the tools and emergency equipment.  Don't forget...use that checklist when loading and you’ll always know where stuff is. (Now WHERE did I put that *&%$#@*^#$ camera???)

     OK...we see the similarities between aircraft and RVs. Now, let’s toss trucks into the equation. Trucks, like RVs (and aircraft) have limited storage, so loading of personal items is critical. Trucks, like RVs, are wider, longer, higher, and heavier, thus requiring greater stopping distances. Many trucking companies (like air carriers) use driver/co-driver teams because they’re more efficient and much safer (one drives, one rests & vice-versa). Good truckers (like good pilots) also use a checklist. Well, what do you know? You may not be "driving" an airplane, but it sure looks like you’re driving a truck. time you crawl behind the wheel of that RV...think TRUCK, not car.

Get my drift?

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