THE SVERDLOVSK GAMBIT
The unfortunately named Seman Peru, an aviation repair station in Peru, apparently noticed that I had taken a few photographs of aircraft lavatories and concluded that obviously I also sold not only aircraft lavatory parts, but also auxiliary fuel tanks. So they sent me an entirely pointless request for a quote on aircraft parts.
From: "SEMAN PERU" <firstname.lastname@example.org> To: Bob Cromwell Subject: REQUEST OF QUOTE Date: Thu, 28 Jan 2010 08:45 am Dear Sirs, Would you please send me your quote for the =C3=ADtems detailed in the attachment. All the items are applicable to boeing 737-500 ORD. ITEM NRO PARTE / N SERIE NOMENCLATURA CANT. TIPO SERVICIO 1 2 TOILET WASTE TANK - - REPLACE CHECK VALVE 2 3 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/10 2 REPLACE VALVE COVER SEAL* 3 4 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/10 2 REPLACE VALVE INNER DOOR SEAL 4 5 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/11 2 REPLACE VALVE MOLDED SEAL & PACKING 5 6 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/11 2 REPLACE VALVE OUTER CAP SEAL 6 34 PASSENGER OXIGEN MASK 289-601-806 118 REPLACE 7 42 AUXILIARY FUEL TANK 401-5-060-107 1 REPLACE LIFE LIMIT (ACCORDING STC N SA725NE) 8 43 AUXILIARY FUEL TANK 401-5-240-105 1 REPLACE LIFE LIMIT (ACCORDING STC N SA725NE) 10 68 OXIGEN GENERATOR PB-117003-12 5 REPLACE 11 69 OXIGEN GENERATOR PB-117003-14 3 REPLACE
Their message was accompanied by an attached spreadsheet.
I again assembled a few relevant pictures and sent them a quote.
From: Bob Cromwell To: "SEMAN PERU" <email@example.com> Subject: Re: REQUEST OF QUOTE Date: Tue, 2 Mar 2010 00:00:05 -0500 In-Reply-To: <5DE149392C6040A7BC53857A93376DAF@seman.com.pe> Gentlemen -- Thank you for the opportunity to submit a quote on your requirements. Things have been a bit hectic here, and so a few weeks have passed since receiving your request. Hopefully this quote is not too late. To refresh your memory given the delay of our reply: > Dear Sirs, > > Would you please send me your quote for the items detailed in the > attachment. > > All the items are applicable to boeing 737-500 > > ORD. ITEM NRO PARTE / N SERIE NOMENCLATURA CANT. TIPO SERVICIO > 1 2 TOILET WASTE TANK - - REPLACE > CHECK VALVE > 2 3 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/10 2 REPLACE > VALVE COVER SEAL* > 3 4 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/10 2 REPLACE > VALVE INNER DOOR SEAL > 4 5 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/11 2 REPLACE > VALVE MOLDED SEAL & > PACKING > 5 6 LAVATORY WASTE DRAIN 1/1/11 2 REPLACE > VALVE OUTER CAP SEAL > 6 34 PASSENGER OXIGEN MASK 289-601-806 118 REPLACE > 7 42 AUXILIARY FUEL TANK 401-5-060-107 1 REPLACE LIFE > LIMIT > (ACCORDING STC > N SA725NE) > 8 43 AUXILIARY FUEL TANK 401-5-240-105 1 REPLACE LIFE > LIMIT > (ACCORDING STC > N SA725NE) > 10 68 OXIGEN GENERATOR PB-117003-12 5 REPLACE > 11 69 OXIGEN GENERATOR PB-117003-14 3 REPLACE We are a bit short on B737-500 lavatory and O2 system parts at the moment, but apparently you have perused our brochure: http://toilet-guru.com/ and are familiar with our product line. As for the auxiliary fuel tanks, I think we may have something out back in the parts lot. The following is predicated on the assumption that your B737-500s have been modified to accept external wing-mounted drop tanks, specifically those with the old Soviet-gauge mating flanges. You see, we have some of those left over from a previous operation. It is unclear from your spreadsheet: do you need two of them, or do you need one lot of 42 and a second lot of 43, for a total of 85? Also, since these come in pairs, I assume that the numbers are of the pairs needed, not tanks. We realize that wing-mounted drop tanks are infrequently used on the B737 family, but we have been pleased with the extended operational capability they provide. For example, our successful delivery of a herd of gazelles in the SVERDLOVSK GAMBIT. To set the record straight, as that operation received distorted coverage in the media, the flight in question had declared a routing from Yangon, Myanmar (ex-Burma) to Helsinki (an itinerary simultaneously of startling peculiarity yet of real interest to almost no one), with a planned refueling stop in Yekaterinburg, Russia. The customer, Rodion Raskolnikov, was a real traditionalist who insists on calling the city Sverdlovsk despite its return to its pre-Soviet name in 1991 (hence our titling the operation as the SVERDLOVSK GAMBIT, but note that the name still applies to the surrounding oblast). Raskolnikov was a wealthy oligarch with his wealth based on Belarussian mail-order bride scams. Most of his wealth came from bait-and-switch victims in the south-eastern United States, a demographic susceptible to Raskolnikov's marketing of the girls as White Russian (certainly true given the meaning of "Belarus", but not "white" in the sense demanded by his unreformed Confederate clientele) and "having southern accents" (which is true, but only in the literal sense of "from southern Belarus and therefore influenced by Ukrainian"). While Ukraine and Belarus are the Bridebasket of Europe, Raskolnikov's stable was not filled with beautiful young girls -- few were at all attractive or young, and many were not even females. Raskolnikov desperately wanted a herd of gazelles for his sprawling hunting preserve, specifically the famed variety found in Borneo and considered one of the most challenging four-legged prey. Yes, importing Borneo gazelles to western Siberia is as weather-doomed as was the transportation of those Saudi-owned Bangladeshi laborers to northern Quebec in the Laurentian Shield Expedition debacle, but it would be Raskolnikov's ill-gotten funds wasted. Speaking of Bangladeshis, we had learned some lessons from an earlier operation undertaken for the Grand Panjandrum of Chittagong, what we titled OPERATION BANGLADESHI BUFFALO JUMP. That was when we air-dropped one hundred water buffalo using cargo chutes with a survival rate of 95% (three parachute or harness failures, one buffalo drowned when tangled in the parachute after landing in a river, and the delay in pushing the last buffalo out the rear ramp of the cargo plane caused it to drift beyond the landing zone and into an electrical substation). But our problem, as you have probably anticipated, is that with skittish swift-running ungulates like gazelles you will have a very difficult time recovering the expensive cargo parachutes and modified harnesses. No, gazelle delivery requires a landing. So, the plan was to modify a cargo configuration B737 for mounting three droppable auxiliary fuel tanks under each wing, and then fly it to Borneo to load the gazelles. We then flew around Burmese airspace and arrived in Sverdlovsk/Yekaterinburg for the declared "refueling stop". We off-loaded the gazelles using the expedient of simply taxiing to the left boundary of the taxiway, opening the main cabin door, and allowing the thoroughly terrorized creatures to leap to the soft ground. Raskolnikov's chief factotum then had the task of rounding them up before they managed to jump over the airport perimeter fence. Certain media outlets have darkly hinted that our surreptitious delivery was driven by official worry over unregulated livestock movements given the "biological Chernobyl" of the 1979 anthrax release. However, that event was caused by human error at a Soviet biological weapons facility, Military Compound 19. Our low-profile delivery was intended only to avoid the usual demands for baksheesh from the local authorities. We then quickly hosed out the cabin, bolted down four rows of seats, refueled, and took on our return cargo of twenty-four Belarussian mail-order brides purchased by the Sultan of Brunei (knowing of Raskolnikov's record, the Sultan had sent his factotum to personally select the two dozen girls). Declaring a change in plan and an urgent return to Yangon due to the whims of the Myanmar junta, we then departed back to the southeast from whence we had arrived. We again skirted Burmese airspace and returned to the island of Borneo, this time landing in the small enclave of Brunei. The girls were not forced to jump but were deplaned with a roll-up air stair before disappearing into the Sultan's stately pleasure dome. Our chief pilot, Holland M Murdock (formerly Captain, USAF, discharged from active service under obscure conditions), was the command pilot on the SVERDLOVSK GAMBIT. He is fluent in Russian, but he can affect a nearly impenetrable Vietnamese accent coming from close to a decade with a Vietnamese common-law wife (hot-headed and prone to hurling scalding hot woks and their lemon-grass-flavored contents, she had nonetheless endeared herself to him). In this guise of a flustered Vietnamese pilot of a Burmese aircraft, Murdock deflected any suspicions by the few Russian air traffic controllers who remained unbribed by Raskolnikov. Anyway, the external tanks worked flawlessly during the SVERDLOVSK GAMBIT, and also, now that I think back on it, OPERATION BANGLADESHI BUFFALO JUMP. The range of that flight from Sri Lanka to Chittagong was well within the normal range of a B737, but the heavy load of a full herd of water buffalo pushed the maximum gross weight limit and greatly reduced the range. Can your men handle small boats? We were thinking of dropping the tanks (retarded by small parachutes, of course) into Lima harbor where they could easily be rounded up. So, let us know how many drop tanks you are looking for (as I mentioned, assuming that your B737-500s have been modified for the Soviet-gauge mating flanges), whether a harbor drop would work, and when a good delivery date might be. Bob "Really, all I did was photograph some toilets" Cromwell