Discussion in 'Welcome New Users' started by Tari Narvina, Apr 8, 2020.
BLU-82 being loaded up on your C-130 @Sarge. That may prevent trespassers for awhile.
Runs in her lion like form all over @Sarge 's lawn digging her large talon like claws in and making a mess.........generally.
I've never complained, I get to be on a plane and that's the best. Why complain? The only complaint I ever made was about my own stupidity. Taking the middle seat on a 14 hour flight. The two guys either side slept and I needed to pee.........lesson learned! Ever had to climb over the back of a seat into the next row to go to the loo?
Been there done that. However, the real experience is doing a combat landing into BIAP while fully loaded down in battle rattle next to your favorite company of soldiers.
Sits on @Sarge 's lawn listening to the aging Military members talk shop.
I've had to climb across dozens of soldiers packed sideways into their troop seats like sardines to get from the flight deck in the nose to the urinal in the tail.
SO you know my pain!
I had a flight back from Germany next to a surly man with periodontal disease...
Your pain is REAL then!?
Not sure who these guys are, but they look smaller than the average American soldier; there's usually less room than that between knees.
[Entitled] Ugh. And I suppose they don't even have Dom for us to drink. Likely have to drink sparkling wine! [/Entitled]
That's got to be out of Pope AFB during a training jump for Airborne school. I will point out that it was tighter then that flying into BIAP with a full combat load on.
Listens to ex military men talking military stuff.........
Some of you seemed interested in the magazine article I'm writing, so here it is. I think I've just about finished polishing it up before I send it to the publisher. Feel free to read and critique; I've read it so many times I'm probably missing some obvious mistakes. This is written for FLYING magazine's monthly feature where people write in and tell something they learned about flying; obviously this is a different target audience than you people, but I think the story and the lesson is plain enough for most readers, even if y'all don't pick up on all the details.
I LEARNED ABOUT FLYING FROM THAT
"Hey Eng, time to go fly." The quiet voice stirred me out of my uneasy sleep. I opened my eyes to the predawn darkness of a dusty tent full of sleeping men. I was Eng. Short for engineer.
"All right," I answered and rolled out of my cot. Since I was waking up, I must have gotten at least some sleep that night. The tension had been building since yesterday, when I saw the flying schedule and realized that today would be my first combat mission.
It was December 8 of 2003 and I was in Tent City at "The Dirty Deed", Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. I was a brand new C-130 Hercules flight engineer - FE, or Eng to the rest of the crew. All of them had flown combat missions before; I was the new guy.
Actually I was a very new guy to the ops world. I had begun training as a flight engineer earlier that year, and had not even begun the flying portion of the training when the "shock and awe" campaign kicked off in Iraq. After Baghdad was captured, our C-130's began flying regular supply missions to the airport there despite the Iraqi insurgents opposing us with shoulder-launched heat-seeking missiles and homemade radio jammers. Our crews had been flying hard for months, and my training wasn't exactly leisurely as my squadron wanted me mission-capable ASAP. When we departed America for the Middle East at the end of November, I still hadn't logged enough hours to call my training complete; my final training hours were accomplished eastbound over the North Atlantic. I had never even been up without an instructor engineer looking over my shoulder until we were in theater. Two days earlier I had finally gone "solo engineer" for an out-and-back flight from Qatar to Somalia. That was considered a relatively low-risk mission and was logged as a combat support flight, not an actual combat flight. I kept my eyes peeled for the notorious Somali pirates, but we didn't see a single boat.
Today was the day to fly into Iraq, which was a combat zone. Time to earn my wings.
After a quick trip to the latrine tent, our crew met up at the crew van, threw in our bags, and drove to the chow tent. Scrambled eggs and pancakes went down easier than I expected. I wasn't particularly hungry, but it was sure to be a long day and I wanted plenty of energy.
Back in the crew van and through security checkpoints to the flight line, and into the ops building for briefings from intelligence and weather, then our crew went over the mission plan. Nothing complicated today, just load some cargo, fly up the Persian Gulf, over Kuwait and into Iraq, land at Baghdad, offload and onload, then return. Simple.
We did the bag-drag out to our plane for the day, a 1970 C-130E, tail number 1259, officially assigned to Pope Air Force Base. We were a Little Rock AFB crew, but as part of a deployed Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, we borrowed each others' planes regularly. I was a little disappointed we weren't flying a Little Rock bird; before cross-training as a flight engineer I had spent fourteen years maintaining Little Rock C-130's, and they seemed like old friends. No matter, the Pope Herks were no different from ours except for the tail markings.
Normally my flight engineer preflight inspection took close to an hour as I worked my way around and through the plane and down my checklist. But today we were assigned to a sealed bird; it had been preflighted by another engineer and a breakable seal placed on the door to ensure maintenance didn't mess with it before the flight crew showed up. I just needed to do a quick walk-around to reassure myself all was as it should be, then I climbed the stairs to the flight deck and settled in to build my nest.
The C-130 flight engineer chair is the best seat in the house, in the middle of the flight deck right behind the pilots' seats. It swivels 360 degrees with great views forward and to both sides. I hung a fat little blue book with yellow pages, the standard checklist, on the back of the pilot's headrest, and the combat checklist on the copilot's headrest.
Big books, volumes of flight manuals and performance charts, went in the bins on the backs of the pilots' seats. I plugged in my headset, checked my oxygen mask, and got busy calculating the first TOLD card of the day. Take Off and Landing Data was the FE's duty. It was up to me to check temperature, density altitude, gross weight, runway length, wind velocity, and everything else that affects take-off performance, then use the various charts and tables in my performance book to fill out a card that would tell the pilots how much power the engines would produce, how much runway we would need, and what speeds we should rotate and take off. I handed the finished card to the copilot, who looked it over, compared my numbers to his numbers, and posted it on the instrument panel.
When everyone had all their ducks in a row, the whole crew gathered in the cargo compartment for a final review of our mission plan. The pilot was AC (Aircraft Commander), backed up by the copilot, navigator, flight engineer (me!), and two loadmasters who normally spent the whole flight in the back. The loads were usually the youngest and most junior members of a typical 130 crew, but we all understood that they were really the most important people on the mission. If they didn't load the people and cargo we were tasked to deliver, then there was no point in flying the mission.
We all understood our roles and duties. My duty was mainly monitoring engines and systems, keeping the fuel load balanced, and reading checklists for the rest of the crew. If anything went wrong with the plane, I was the systems expert and it would be my duty to minimize the effects of malfunctions and keep the crew informed of the plane's capabilities. I was glad I had spent fourteen years turning wrenches on the Herk before today; I might be new to flying ops, but I knew the old Herkypigs inside and out.
Back in our seats, headsets on, intercom check, and the AC called for the start engines checklist. That's a busy time for the FE; starting four turbine engines on an old plane with lots of systems designed in the '50's means there's a lot of switches to flip, knobs to turn, gauges to monitor, and checklist items to call and respond to. And after that checklist was complete, it was time for the taxi checklist, then the before take-off checklist. It was always a relief to hear the radio call "Cleared for take-off," that meant I could put down the checklist for a couple of minutes.
I focused on the engine gauges for take-off as I had been trained. If an engine should fail, the first warning sign is usually from the torque indicators, four gauges at the top of the center console. Engines were good, rotation and lift-off happened at the numbers my TOLD card had predicted, then it was positive rate of climb, gear up, flaps up, and after take-off checklist.
Soon we were at altitude, or at least what we in the 130 considered altitude, which would probably make the jet jockeys laugh. We cruised up the Persian Gulf under clear skies and bright sun, watching for traffic and spotting oil tankers and naval vessels along the way. I relaxed for a couple minutes and enjoyed the view, then I got busy again. I checked fuel gauges and fuel flow meters, turned to my right to consult with the navigator about our time en route, then filled out a new TOLD card to have ready for landing in Baghdad. That was a task I wanted to have complete before we got to the combat zone.
A little later we were feet dry over Kuwait. I looked closely, never having been there or seen it before, even though I had been deployed in the Persian Gulf region for six months of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm as we fought to free Kuwait from Iraq. It looked like nothing but more sand.
The Kuwait-Iraq border was considered the edge of the combat zone. We donned our Kevlar vests and swapped our headsets for helmets, then it was checklist time again, this time the combat entry checklist. I had done that one a few times in training flights, calling out the items, and hearing the other crewmembers answer "Simulated" in response. Not this time. This time, self-defense systems were activated for real, and flares armed in case of heat-seeking missiles. Things were real, and they felt real. I was braced for action.
We crossed the border into Iraq. Nothing happened. The Herk droned placidly along on autopilot as we maintained our altitude, staying above the threat of any weapons we expected the insurgents to carry. More sand drifted past beneath us. The only "threats" were the friendly traffic near our altitude, and our collision avoidance system was doing a good job of tracking those. After all I'd read in history books about WW2 bombers over Nazi Germany in skies full of "flak so thick you could get out and walk on it," it was pretty anti-climactic.
Eventually we neared Baghdad, our first destination for the day. The AC briefed us on our approach plan, maximum rate of descent to an assault landing. That plan would minimize our exposure to the shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles the insurgents were known to use. Then I was back in the books, reading off the descent checklist as we throttled back and dropped toward the sand.
Radio reception had been getting steadily worse as we approached Baghdad. Rumor around the squadron was that insurgents were building homemade jammers with parts they ordered from Radio Shack. I don't know if that's true, but it sure seemed to be. I could barely hear half of what the air traffic controllers were transmitting to us, but the pilots seemed to be getting most of it. I assumed the noises made more sense to them because they knew what the voices were expected to say. I was still pretty clueless at that sort of thing; it was outside my area of expertise.
It was a roller-coaster ride to the ground. As far as I could tell, the AC was following the approach procedure he had briefed, which involved some steep banks and hard turns to get us inside the airfield perimeter as soon as possible, then bleed off airspeed so we could configure for landing. He called for the before landing checklist, which was complicated by scratchy sort-of intelligible radio transmissions interrupting us. We barely finished the checklist before we were over the threshold and thumping down onto the runway. A good assault landing is like a carrier landing, arriving suddenly and with authority is more important than smoothness. Throttles came back, props reversed, and I was focused on the torque gauges again. A propeller that malfunctions while reverse thrusting during roll-out can send a plane off the runway, and it was my duty to watch for that. As usual, that didn't happen, and I got busy yet again, resetting systems from flight operation to ground operation, then the after landing checklist, finishing that one quickly so I could rubberneck about for my first good look at Baghdad airport. Soon we were parked and it was time for the engine shutdown checklist.
After that, finally, things were sort of quiet and still. I pulled off my sweaty helmet and got busy with paperwork. I had done it. I had flown a combat sortie. Now all I had to do was refuel the plane and do it all over again for the flight out.
The loadmasters got rid of our cargo as I conferred with the pilot and navigator, deciding how much fuel to add for the flight home. We all know the saying, "The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire," but fuel also adds weight which decreases acceleration, climb, maneuverability, and speed. Flying in a combat zone where the bad guys are known to have guided missiles, we wanted to minimize weight and maximize performance as much as we could while still keeping adequate fuel reserves. We worked out a compromise fuel load and I waved in the fuel truck and pumped the gas. The loadmasters loaded and secured our outbound cargo, and we got ready to launch.
The AC gathered us in the cargo compartment and briefed our departure plan. He intended to do a maximum performance take off, keep us low in ground effect, retracting the landing gear and accelerating to the end of the runway at about fifty to a hundred feet altitude, then yank the nose up into a zoom climb that would trade our airspeed for altitude. That would theoretically make us a more difficult target for the insurgents.
We strapped into our seats and cranked engines for the second time that day, taxied into position on the runway, and I heard some scratchy noises on the radio that must have been our take off clearance. The throttles were wide open as we charged down the runway, lifted off, stayed low as the gear came up, then flaps. As the end of the runway vanished under our nose the pilot hauled the yoke back and we pulled a couple G's and pointed at the sky. What a rush!
An unexpected noise rang through my headset; it took me a moment to realize it was the missile warning system, which I had only ever heard in the simulator. The pilot was working the yoke and calling out, "Flares! Breaking left!" My seat dropped out from under me and twisted left as the nose and left wing dropped, then the G's were back on and the loadmasters were calling out "Good flares!"
I had been trained for this, I knew I should be looking outside for incoming missiles. The pilots were looking ahead and the nav was looking right, so I turned my head to look left. All I could see was blurred ground racing past. We were in a steep bank, probably past 60 degrees at low altitude, and I couldn't see anything outside but blurry sand.
That didn't seem like a useful thing to look at, so I turned my attention back inside. I ought to check my gauges, make sure the engines and systems were running as they should. I stared at rows of round black instruments with numbers and needles that had lost all their meaning; I was too keyed up by our situation to understand anything about the gauges. (Remember that scene in the movie Airplane when the panicky pilot is staring at the instrument panel as the camera pans across the world's longest dashboard, jampacked with meaningless dials, lights, switches, and gauges? I still laugh at that scene because it rings true.)
Realizing that I was wasting my time trying to make sense of the instrument panels, I switched my gaze back outside. The pilot had reversed our bank, so now my view to the left showed me empty sky. I stared into that and saw nothing.
The pilot was back on the intercom asking if anyone had seen any missiles. No one had. Apparently it was a false alarm. We had reacted correctly by popping flares and taking evasive action. It was time to climb out of the danger zone, so the pilot leveled the wings and raised the nose for best climb speed. With the world back on an even keel, I scanned the gauges again. All indications were normal.
Soon we were up above the threat level, autopilot on and homeward bound. All was well in our world. Until the copilot said, "Hey, Eng, what's up with number four oil quantity?"
I was embarrassed that the copilot had noticed the problem before I had. We all back each other up in our duties, but scanning the engine gauges was one of my primary duties, not his, and I felt I should have seen it first. But I didn't waste any time worrying about guilt; there was an issue to deal with. I scanned the rest of the gauges. Number four engine oil temperature was normal, but oil pressure was a little low. Number four engine oil quantity was quite a bit lower than the other three. Meanwhile the pilot was on the intercom asking the loads to look out the window in the tail and scan number four engine. They reported a visible fluid leak. According to our standard procedures, that was a condition that required engine shutdown. After a very short discussion we agreed there was no need to keep the engine running. We could shut it down and easily fly home on three engines.
We played it out as the checklist directed. The copilot reached up to the engine emergency T-handles, starting with number one and counting as he tapped each one, "One, two, three, four, Engineer confirm number four fire handle." This was our normal procedure to double check that we weren't shutting down the wrong engine, and I backed him up with my own count and said, "Engineer confirms number four fire handle." The copilot pulled the handle, reached down, and counted off the propeller levers, "One, two, three, four, Engineer confirm number four condition lever." "Engineer confirms number four condition lever." He pulled it to the feather detent. My attention went back to the gauges. Number four RPM was dropping rapidly, as it should. A loadmaster called from the back, "Number four standing tall." I hopped out of my seat for a moment to stand by the right hand flight deck windows where I could look back and see the right side engines for myself. Number four had come to a complete stop and the propeller blades were twisted knife-edge to the slipstream, minimizing the drag of the dead propeller and maximizing our speed and range on three engines. It looked like everything had gone right with the shutdown.
I slid back into my seat. Shutting down the engine affected other systems in the plane, and it was my job to take care of them. Let's see, what do I do next... Fuel, number four engine isn't burning any fuel, shut down the number four fuel pump. What else? Number four generator isn't turning anymore, shut that off. I stared at the overhead panel, feeling sure I was missing something. What else was I supposed to do? This wasn't a procedure I had practiced much since I had arrived at the squadron; it was something I hadn't done since my last simulator ride, months ago. I'd better figure it out before anything else went wrong. If only I had some sort of clue what else I needed to take care of...
Somehow, I managed to avoid an obvious facepalm when I suddenly realized the answer was staring me right in the face. Checklist! Hanging right there on the back of the pilot's headrest where I had been grabbing it and reading it all day. The procedure was in the checklist. But where? I had been flying training missions for months and I knew the engine emergency shutdown procedure wasn't found among the standard entries. As I grabbed the little blue book, I noticed the black stripes on the edges of the pages at the back of the manual. Emergency procedures were printed on bright yellow paper with diagonal black striped edges to make them easy to find. I flipped to the first black and yellow page. EMERGENCY PROCEDURES - TABLE OF CONTENTS. The first item read ENGINE SHUTDOWN PROCEDURE.
I turned the page and there was everything I needed to know. Reading the items on the page, I wanted to kick myself for forgetting such basic concepts, of course I needed to close the engine bleed air valve, crossfeed valve, prop switched to MECH GOV, check the synchrophaser, temperature datum valve NULL, throttle full forward to keep it out of the pilots' way, and close the oil cooler. Simple.
I double-checked that I had correctly accomplished all the items on the cleanup checklist and pressed my mike button. "Pilot, Eng, engine shutdown cleanup checks complete."
"Thanks, Eng," he answered casually, not sounding all that interested. He was already back in relaxed mode, trusting that I had dealt with things as I should. That made me feel good.
We exited the combat zone and I ran the combat exit checklist, which was simple and kind of boring by then. Cruising back down the Persian Gulf, we munched on personal pizzas courtesy of the flightline kitchen, the C-130 galley oven, and a restless navigator. I passed the time reviewing the emergency section of the checklist. It was obvious that I had neglected that area of study while focusing on learning the standard procedures for a combat mission. There was a lot of good info in those pages. I had learned all of it in training, but my lack of recent review had pushed most of it to the back of my mind. By the time the AC called for the descent checklist, I felt a lot better about my readiness to deal with emergencies.
Our landing back at Al Udeid on three engines was nothing exciting; Herks fly just fine with one feathered. It's the least exciting of any in-flight emergency I've been in. We debriefed at the squadron ops building and called it a day. I had logged my first 5.3 combat hours and two combat sorties. I couldn't wait to get to the shower tent; it had been a long hot sweaty sixteen hour day. Tomorrow was scheduled as a rest and recovery day, then the next day we'd be back in the air for another trip into "the box." It was a routine I'd get thoroughly accustomed to over the next six years.
My situational awareness developed quickly as I got more missions under my belt, and I like to think that eventually I became a pretty good combat FE. A couple of months later I was assigned to a different crew and my new AC told me he'd heard I was Sierra Hotel, "for a new guy." Throughout the rest of my flying career, I made it a habit to kill some time during quiet moments in flight by reviewing the emergency procedures section of the checklist. Studying the procedures in the flight deck where you can see and touch which switches to flip and which knobs to turn is the best way to commit them to memory. I never needed the vast majority of that information, but it was reassuring to remind myself that I knew what to do if things went wrong.
In 2009 the author retired from the USAF after logging 2211 hours in the C-130, including 1148 hours combat flight time and 682 combat sorties. He is presently a rusty low-time private pilot hoping to get back in the air when the Covid-19 crisis ends, and is about to go review emergency procedures for the Cessna 172.
C-130E 1259 was scrapped in 2010, but the nose section went to Weisbrod Aircraft Museum in Pueblo, Colorado. I may have to go visit someday.
@Sarge You know I appreciated that greatly. Bravo Zulu!!!!! Those cockpit images are amazing. Nothing like the current layout in the J.
Is that the Dash 1? WoW.
Wonders if this is the biggest post she's ever seen on the boards.......
A great article, @Sarge! You had an eventful first flight!
It's an older version of the -1, but it checks out.
Yes it was. Fortunately, most missions were less interesting than that one. We used to say, "Boring is good."
I find in RL 'Boring is good' applies to a lot of things........
A place for Addie to keep warm during the downunder winter.
I would so love that..............
tis may have just fully died
i mean in australia (except for victoria) quarantine isn't that much of a thing anymore
It is in some places, some people are CHOOSING to stay in and not spread the virus. Other are like YOLO, and that may just be the case.....