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Microsoft Flight Simulator X, Captain Sim C-130 Experience
Air Force type, Smooth they called him, said he wanted to fly our biplane. Asked how much taildragger time he had. "More than anyone else in the Air Force," says he.
The Air Force has taildraggers? Indeed they do. And they're a handful too.
After the failure of the hostage rescue mission in Iran on April 24, 1980, the Office of the Secretary of Defense approached Lockheed Georgia to modify 3 C-130H aircraft.
These aircraft were to take off from Eglin AFB in Florida, refuel in-flight on the way to Iran, and then land in the Amjadien soccer stadium across the street from the U. S. embassy in Teheran Iran with the intention of extracting the American hostages from the Embassy. After rescuing the hostages, these aircraft were to land on the the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf.
The plan was to modify three C-130s to land and takeoff on a soccer field. The program was so highly classified that the commanding officer of Eglin AFB had told him that it had such high priority that if Eglin needed to be shut down, that could be done.
The ship had eight retrorockets that delivered a total of 80,000 pounds of thrust to stop the C-130 once it was on the ground, l80,000 pounds of thrust to take off with and two pairs of rockets on either side to arrest the vertical descent. There was no trouble in hitting the ground, the hard part was firing the rockets at just the right altitude so their three second burn was timed correctly.
Iran had been our ally until the Shah was ousted from power by the Revolutionary Guard. Student militants stormed the U.S. Embassy in Tehran in 1979 taking the Marine guards and embassy staff as hostages. After releasing some of the hostages, 53 remained. In the spring of 1980 a rescue attempt utilizing helicopters and C-130s was aborted when a helicopter collided with a C-130 tanker and eight servicemen were killed. With the presidential elections looming in November another plan was formulated. Lockheed was asked if a C-130 could be modified to take off and land on a soccer field. Lockheed evaluated the offer.
It was determined that 180,000 of thrust, equal to the thrust of 19-1/2 of the C-130's standard turboprop engines, would be required to get a C-130 off in the length of a soccer field and over the surrounding obstructions. The rocket engines would burn out at different times and there were rocket engines on the pylons in case of asymmetric thrust; yaw only firing. The plane would be 300 feet in the air after traveling 300 feet forward and with a takeoff roll of just 100 feet. Landing was the big problem. We had delivered 66 C-130's to Iran and the pilot was familiar with the soccer field in question. A dorsal and horizontal fin was added and all control surfaces were enlarged 35%. Double slotted flaps were added. It required 85% power to maintain five knots above stall speed. Go arounds would be a problem. The ailerons and other control surfaces were made fully hydraulically powered for quicker response.
The plane first flew in August. There was none of the formal flight test regimen to be followed because of the time span involved getting the hostages out of Tehran before the November presidential elections. If there were an accident, the project would never be talked about; if it were successful, it would never be talked about.
The project was divided up with the rocket control systems going to IBM. There were two pairs of rockets under the wing roots on each side. They had a three second duration of burn. They were fired manually 58 times. If they were fired too late, you would bounce.
The hostages were daily marched around the soccer field near the American Embassy and we were given advance notice of when the hostages would be at the field on a given day by one of the many Iranians who were still friendly to the U.S. The planes were equipped with flares, a radar altimeter and even a laser altimeter that looked ahead at the landing aim point to give a precise slant altitude above the touchdown point. A computer was to control the firing of the rockets. If the retrorockets fired before they were on the ground, they were dead. A test was scheduled for three days before the planned mission date in October. If the test were successful, the mission would be a go.
There were all kinds of glitches. All rocket firings up to now had been done manually. Early that morning Arni told the general and Lockheed personnel to postpone the test. The general said it was bigger than they were. Armi asked whether his refusing to fly the plane would put the test off, citing the general's earlier statement that he should use his best judgment. The general would order the Air Force pilots who had been flying with Armi to conduct the test (they were standing around them listening to the discussion). The general said that if the Air Force pilots refused to fly, they would be court marshaled.
Armi agreed to fly the test, but only if safety switches were installed to preclude the computer accidentally firing the rockets prematurely. It was agreed. There were three safety switches, one for the navigator for the vertically firing descent arresting rockets, one on the copilot's column and one on the pilot's column for the retrorockets. All the switches were on safe and it was the intent of the crew (six in all) to fire the rockets manually.
There were lots of dignitaries at the special Eglin AFB field prepared especially for the program. It was too early and too political. To be on the safe side they made the assisted takeoff first. Everything went well on takeoff and they came around for the landing.
Armi said it was one of those perfect approaches where you were right where you wanted to be, 85 to 86 knots. All the fire fighting equipment was ready and standing by. The navigator had control of the lifting rockets because his laser altimeter was the most accurate gage of height above the ground. At 50 feet he hit the switch, to fire the rockets at 49 feet above the ground. Armi heard a loud bang but they didn't fire. The pilots had control of the stopping rockets and both switches were on safe.
Armi lost part of his visibility, the upper retrorockets had fired. At 49 feet the lifting rockets had not fired. They had full flaps. Three fourths of the time they had fired the retrorockets on the ground roll, the engines had quit due to the exhaust gas temperature spike caused by the heat of the rocket's plumes.
He realized they were going to crash and his instructors had always said that if you're going to crash, try and hit flat. At 19 feet the rest of the retrorockets fired. They hit hard.
Four of the crew went out the back of the plane, Armi and the flight engineer were ready to jump out the crew entry door, but there was a sea of flames on the ground. One of the fire crew saw them and shot foam so they could get out.
After the firefighters had finished he asked the general and Lockheed officials present to accompany him and to go on board the crashed plane and observe the position of the safety switches. Both the pilots and co-pilots switches were still in the safe position.
Even though they hit hard, there was only one bruise on one crew member and one bit tongue because that person tended to stick it out between his teeth during stressful tasks. The general had stated that if there was an accident, there would be no accident investigation team. One month later an accident investigation team showed up.. The team knew nothing of the program. The full bird colonel leading the investigation asked if there were any comments before they started. The general who had been in charge of the program and other high ranking officers and Lockheed officials were present.
Armi spoke up and asked if the recorders could be turned off and the secretaries asked to leave. The colonel looked at the other officers and agreed. Armi gave a five-minute speil about how rushed and tenuous the program was and how he had been assured that if there were an accident, there would be no investigation.
Armi, stated that every pertinent Air Force regulation was violated. The general agreed. This was not normal, a politically drive program that from start to finish had been accomplished in two months. Armi, indicating that if he was fired as a result of the crash, said "I'm a civilian. I will sue." He would not be held responsible. The general agreed. Arni again stated that he would like to be part of the engineering investigation.
The colonel asked what we do now? The accident investigation was canceled. Later they had an engineering investigation.
The C-130 has the capability. He said it was a shame there was not enough time to get the bugs worked out. They had an Iranian general who was going to have all the radars out of commission. We had a lot of help. In the end, they said, "Don't come." The Iranian leaders wanted to end the hostage situation, but wanted to save face. The hostages were released shortly after President Reagan was sworn in.
Armi said that until Peter Jennings came on the evening news with the story, he wasn't aware that it had been declassified. He called a friend in Special Forces. He advised him not to mention names or get too specific. He believed there was potential to use AC-130 in a similar role in the future.
He added that the problem of the engines EGT spiking and causing the engines to quit was only when they operating at higher power while the retrorockets were firing. By going to ground power quickly, the engines would overheat momentarily but not shut off.
The Navy version of the training described in a recent Newsweek article is conducted at Warner Springs near San Diego, the home of the West Coast SERE (Survival, Escape, Resistance and Evasion) school.
After a three day classroom seminar with instructors such as Chuck Law, the Quartermaster on the USS Pueblo who had been a POW in North Korea and subject to grotesque torture, we spent a week on the beach and in the mountains eating only what you could scrounge from nature. There wasn't much to be had given that for years bi-weekly courses of 50 guys had been doing the same thing in the same area. A few snails and one tiny prickly pear from a cactus wasn't enough for me, and by the end of the week I was weak enough that just walking around was a huge effort. Sleep depravation was easy given cold mountain nights, hard ground, and no protection except a few pieces of parachute silk.
Then you go through an evasion course where 'enemy' soldiers are on on patrol, and machine guns pepper the area with fake bullets. Weak or not you find the energy to run. A favorite trick was to yell, "I see you Yankee. Stand up or I'll shoot. " And often a well hidden and unseen flyer would stand up.
But by definition you don't succeed in your evasion attempts and you don't escape. Captured was violent. They used the now infamous waterboard treatment on us (all the more effective when they do it to your buddy and make you answer questions while he gasps, drowning, and throws up). I was even knocked out once after being slammed up against a wall. They take all your clothes away except undershorts, a jacket, and your boots, cover your head with a canvas bag, and put you in a dog house size enclosure, no bigger than the hole under a desk where you can't sit up straight or stretch out.
Periodically the guards would come and bang on the cages just to keep you awake with your heart rate off the scale, and you're subjected to several interrogations. I stuck to my story that I was a new trainee and didn't know anything about the EA-6B's secrets. But they use every trick in the book. Southern boys were interrogated by black instructors, for example. And there was a bogus United Nations representative, with a French accent, that was your friend and offered food if you'd tell how you were doing (as if he cared) and what you knew (he cared far more). Spray from a hose in 36º temps is effective too, when your teeth are already chattering from cold and an over dose of adrenalin. Periodically we'd all have to form up for a 'Red Cross' inspection, really Navy medics making sure we weren't being harmed—at least physically.
And they do get inside you head. Spent a fair amount of time at one point trying to figure out how to communicate, in a "confession" letter we were supposed to write, that I was okay and who else was with me. Then I remembered that we would all be "rescued" within 24 hours.
Our senior officer present was doing such a good job as a leader they finally had to remove him from the course. He was shot, in front of us, in a very realistic way. Many of us, including myself, had a hard time not believing that some instructor had run amuck and over stepped the rules of the 'game' because the other instructors all acted horrified and dragged him away as our leader lay in a heap.
At sunrise the next day, oatmeal and the star-spangled banner were never so good. The memories, to this day 35 years later, less so. Yet, rationalization or reality, I did feel better prepared if I'd had to play the game for real. How you physically, and more important, mentally, survive seven years of such treatment, none of it simulated, is an amazing testament to human resilience. What they've learned about our chemistry that lets us survive and even excel in such an environment, as described in the Newsweek article, is fascinating.
This pictures was taken at NAS North Island, about two hours after we were released, and after we'd had a chance to clean up a little, if not shave. Made the mistake of wolfing down and donut and coffee and regretted it for hours.
Some comments from others who went through the school:
I went through Navy SERE level D at Warner Springs near North Island...during Vietnam. I can tell you this. It is an extremely brutal no bullshit course and it has to be. The enemy is typically brutal so you must be trained to Survive, Evade, Resist and Escape. They use the waterboard..beatings, not love taps...real *** beatings.. solitary confinement..interegation...sleep depravation..starvation..etc etc. to bring out your worst fears..break you down mentally and physically to where you are basically withdrawn internally so your no longer aware of anything beyond your current situation. At this point the intensity increases to a breaking point level...you may actually believe that your a POW at some point...that being in training is a mistaken illusion. This is where you pass or fail...You will leave SERE knowing who you really are and or are not. While I cant say I or anyone every enjoyed the experience I can say that I am a stronger person due to SERE training. My final statement during the after action review was..."This I now know! The Enemy will not take me alive...the last bullet will be mine."
During training I escaped three times and burned down the bamboo interegation hut...they kicked my *** six ways from Sunday for that but my response was.."My mother beat me harder" From that point the beatings never stopped..
LAst memory in POW training was absolute madness surrounding me...next thing I know is we are debriefing in San Diego..and eating at the chow hall like a starved pig....
SERE nowadays is probably much more Politically Correct which in my opinion does nothing but leave the soldier unprepared for what to really expect.
There is no training in the military more extreme than SERE...only the enemy can offer you more...
My son went last year. He said if he was Ever faced with the choice of going through SERE again and his career in flying, he would not fly again. He said there was a point he truly did not know that he was in the US. He was also pretty beat up/bruised. Nothing he experienced indicated "political correctness".
Used to fly out of Santa Fe NM, up over Taos over La Veta Pass (ground is 9,500') to Colorado Springs and Denver. Always interesting given the mountains and enroute altitudes. Recall one adventure in a Cessna going up 2000' per minute with the nose down at Va and then sinking at 1500' per minute at Vy, with climb power. It was usually smooth, but not always.
January 10, 1964, started out as a typical day for the flight test group at Boeing's Wichita plant. Pilot Chuck Fisher took off in a B-52H with a three-man Boeing crew, flying a low-level profile to obtain structural data.
Over Colorado, cruising 500 feet above the mountainous terrain, the B-52 encountered some turbulence. Fisher climbed to 14,300 feet looking for smoother air. At this point the typical day ended. The bomber flew into clear-air turbulence. It felt as if the plane had been placed in a giant high-speed elevator, shoved up and down, and hit by a heavy blow on its right side.
Fisher told the crew to prepare to abandon the plane. He slowed the aircraft and dropped to about 9,000 feet to make it easier to bail out. But then Fisher regained some control. He climbed slowly to 16,000 feet to put some safety room between the plane and the ground. He informed Wichita about what was happening. Although control was difficult, Fisher said he believed he could get the plane back in one piece.
Response to the situation at Wichita, and elsewhere, was immediate. An Emergency control center was set up in the office of Wichita's director of flight test. Key Boeing engineers and other specialists were summoned to provide their expertise. Federal Aviation Administration air traffic control centers at Denver and Kansas City cleared the air around the troubled plane. A Strategic Air Command B-52 in the area maintained radio contact with the crew of the Wichita B-52.
As Fisher got closer to Wichita, a Boeing chase plane flew up to meet him And to visually report the damage. When Dale Felix, flying an F-100 fighter,came alongside Fisher's B-52, he couldn't believe what he saw: The B-52's vertical tail was gone.
Felix broke the news to Fisher and those gathered in the control center. There was no panic. Everyone on the plane and in the control center knew they could be called upon at any time for just such a situation. In the emergency control center, the engineers began making calculations and suggesting the best way to get the plane down safely. The Air Force was also lending assistance. A B-52, just taking off for a routine flight, was used to test the various flight configurations suggested by the specialists before Fisher had to try them.
As high gusty winds rolled into Wichita, the decision was made to divert the B-52 to Blytheville Air Force Base in Northeastern Arkansas. Boeing specialists from the emrgency control center took off in a KC-135 and accompanied Fisher to Blytheville, serving as an airborne control center.
Six hours after the incident first occurred, Fisher and his crew brought in the damaged B-52 for a safe landing.
"I'm very proud of this crew and this airplane," Fisher said. "Also we had a lot people helping us, and we're very thankful for that. "The B-52, Fisher said, "Is the finest airplane I ever flew."
Interesting (long) discussion about the possible causes of the Buffalo airliner accident on PPrune.org (Professional Pilots Rumor Network). One comment in particular caught my eye.
In a 757 simulator, engine out situation, autothrottles off per checklist. I'm running the checklist, partner is PF. We're given a descent of 1000'. Done in FLCH after setting in lower next altitude in the Mode Control Panel. Descent started, my head goes back into the checklist, PF levels off, forgets to add thrust on the good engine. Yes, until stick shaker gets both of our attentions, followed by a half snap roll upside down. My partner, believe it, wrestled with it and got it upright. Sim instructor freezes the sim and we debrief. Said he has seen this scenario many times with the usual result being a crash.Lots of morals to this story, but I was paarticularly struck by the "check to the power" attitude because the other pilot was senior and experienced. I had a similar sobering experience where I allowed an experienced pilot to try to kill me because I was "cheerfully along for the ride." I vowed to always take that attitude that if I was in the cockpit I was responsible for the survial of the contents of the pink bag of flesh I call 'me.'
We didn't crash but it took some fancy stick and rudder work. PF, "You have to watch your speed. Autothrottle as crutches are no longer available". PM, me, scolded for not paying attention to what PF was doing, head in checklist, cheerfully along for the ride. PF was a highly experienced pilot and an instructor on another jet with the company.
Many modern pilots, aircraft and some airports have the capability of flying approaches in bad weather that allow landings in almost zero zero conditions. So-called Cat 3 approaches depend on the autopilot to fly a very precise approach. The ceiling can be at eye-level height of the pilot in the cockpit with the aircraft firmly on the ground. With the nose pitched up, as it is on approach, the main landing gear can be firmly on the ground before the pilots sees much of anything. Here's what such an approach into Brussels, Belgium looked like. The call-outs you hear are the number of feet above touchdown.
...sometimes during white-outs it was very hazardous. We could locate a tractor train by radar and we would make a descent, controlled descent until the skis hit the snow, we didn't know where the snow was. And land and then with radar, turn around and taxi back to the snow Cats or tractor train and refuel them and the like and then take off again. So that's one of the first, at least my only opportunity ever to make a zero-zero landing and a zero-zero take off.
Douglas made a sure strong airplane. When we'd land on that sastrugi, which is wind carved little ridges of snow anywhere from four to eight inches high on a slope. And if you landed right into them, it was really-really rough. And I can remember many a time landing - the instrument panel would just jiggle up and down, you could not read it. And your ear-phones would fall off your head. And so would your sunglasses. And your teeth would go like that (Eddie make a rapid clicking sound). And you wonder why the airplane didn't fall apart.
The first time I tried to make a zero-zero landing, I established a 300 foot minute descent and this was at Byrd Station and Byrd Station is supposed to be at 5100 feet elevation. Well, descending at 300 feet a minute, I hit the ground at 5300 feet elevation by my altimeter and it was a hard landing. Why the gear didn't give out, I don't know. So from then on, my descents were 50 foot a minute to 100 foot a minute and they would be rather gentle. When the bottom of . . . when the rear of your skis would touch the snow, you had a split second or two to flatten out your descent and that would usually result in a pretty good landing.
A while back I posted Pardo's Push, about an F-4 pilot in Vietnam who pushed his buddy to safety after he suffered a dual flame out over enemy territory. But Joe Pardo wasn't the first pilot to successfully do that. From Air Force Magazine, May 1998.
Brig. Gen. Robinson Risner's heroism during seven and a half years of imprisonment and torture in North Vietnam is legendary. Less known is the fact that he was a jet ace in Korea with eight confirmed victories. Very few people are aware of an incredible feat of flying he performed over North Korea in an attempt to save the life of another pilot. That courageous act is dismissed with a couple of sentences inhis book The Passing of the Night.
Risner's career as a fighter pilot began in Panama, where he whiled away the World War II years. When peace came, he joined the Oklahoma Air Guard. His squadron was called to active duty during Korea and began transitioning from P-51s to F-80s but with no immediate prospects of getting into the war.
With the bare required minimum of 100 hours of jet time, Risner volunteered for combat duty as a photorecce pilot, arriving in Korea on May 10, 1952. Three weeks later, he wangled his way into the famous 4th Fighter Wing at Kimpo and into F-86s, the world's best fighter at that time. On Sept. 21, the fast-learning Captain Risner became our 20th jet ace.
A few weeks later while escorting fighter bombers in an attack on a chemical plant along the Yalu River, Risner tangled with what he describes as the finest fighter pilot he ever encountered. From 30,000 feet to the deck they went, with Risner scoring several solid hits, then across the Yalu into forbidden territory and down the runway of a Chinese airfield where the damaged MiG-15 crashed. All the while, Robbie's wingman, Lt. Joe Logan, stayed with the fight, protecting his leader.
"He was not in very good shape," according to Risner, "but he was a great pilot - and he was fighting like a cornered rat! He chopped the throttle and threw his speed brakes out. I coasted up, afraid that I'd overshoot him. I did a roll over the top of him, and when I came down on the other side, I was right on his wing tip. We were both at Idle with our speed brakes out, just coasting. He looked over at me, raised his hand, and shook his fist. I thought 'This is like a movie. This can't be happening!' He had on a leather helmet and I could see the stitching in it.'"
The MiG then swung around and led Risner right into Tak Tung Kau air base, 35 miles inside China. He zoomed down the airstrip, making 300 knots. Risner waited until the right moment and then hammered him, blasting off part of the wing; the MiG hit the ground and blew apart. It was Risner's sixth kill.
As Risner and his wingman, Lt. Joe Logan, were leaving the Chinese airfield, the flak caught Joe's fuel tank. Jet fuel and hydraulic fluid spewed out from the wounded Sabre. Robinson instantly decided to try an unprecedented and untried manuever; he would push the crippled fighter with his, about 60 miles to the UN rescue base on the island of Cho Do.
Risner told Logan to shut down his engine, now almost out of fuel. Then he gently inserted the upper lip of his air intake into the tailpipe of Logan's F-86. "It stayed sort of locked there as long as we both maintained stable flight, but the turbulence created by Joe's aircraft made stable flight for me very difficult. There was a point at which I was between the updraft and the downdraft. A change of a few inches ejected me either up or down," Risner, now retired and living in Austin, Texas, recalls.
Each time Risner re-established contact between the battered nose of his F-86 and Logan's aircraft was a potential disaster that was made even more likely by the film of hydraulic fluid and jet fuel that covered his windscreen and obscured his vision. It was, one imagines, something like pushing a car at 80 miles an hour down a corduroy road in a heavy fog.
Miraculously, Risner nudged Joe Logan's F-86 all the way to Cho Do, maintaining an airspeed of 190 knots and enough altitude to stay out of range of automatic weapons. Near Cho Do, Lt. Logan bailed out, after radioing to Risner, "I'll see you at the base tonight."
Risner stayed in radio contact with the rescue helicopter. Joe, a strong swimmer, landed close to shore, and the chopper tried to blow him in with the rotors. Tragically though, Joe Logan didn't make it; he became tangled in his parachute lines and drowned.
After Korea, Robbie Risner's Air Force career continued to be marked by acts of physical and moral courage, culminating in his leadership of American POWs during those long years in Hanoi's prisons.
The standards of valor, loyalty, and dedication he set for himself, and met superbly throughout his years in uniform, have established a goal to be sought by generations of airmen yet to come.
"I didn't know Sully the A320 pilot who landed in the Hudson River . I've seen him in the crew room and around the system but never met him. He was former PSA and I was former Piedmont and we never had the occasion to fly together.
The dumb shit press just won't leave this alone. Most airliner ditchings aren't very successful since they take place on the open ocean with wind, rough seas, swells and rescue boats are hours or days away. This one happened in fresh smooth water, landing with the current and the rescue boats were there picking people up while they were still climbing out of the airplane. It also happened on a cold winter day when all the pleasure boats were parked. Had this happened in July it would be pretty hard not to whack a couple of little boats. Sully did a nice job but so would 95% of the other pilots in the industry. You would have done a nice job.On the Airbus nothing in the cockpit is real.
Don't be surprised if the Airbus fly by wire computers didn't put a perfectly good airplane in the water. In a older generation airplane like the 727 or 737 300/400 the throttles are hooked to the fuel controllers on the engine by a steel throttle cable just like a TBM or a Comanche. On the Airbus nothing in the cockpit is real. Everything is electronic. The throttles, rudder and brake pedals and the side stick are hooked to rheostats who talk to a computer who talks to a electric hydraulic servo valve which in turn hopefully moves something.
In a older generation airplane when you hit birds the engines keep screaming or they blow up but they don't both roll back to idle simultaneously like happened to Flt. 1549. All it would take is for bird guts to plug a pressure sensor or knock the pitot probe off or plug it and the computers would roll the engines back to idle thinking they were over boosting because the computers were getting bad data. The Airbus is a real pile of shit. I don't like riding on them. Google Airbus A320Crash at the Paris Airshow in 1998. Watch the video of an airbus A320 crash into a forest because the computers wouldn't allow a power increase following a low pass. The computers wouldn't allow a power increase because they determined that the airspeed was too low for the increase requested so the computers didn't give them any. Pushing the throttles forward in a Airbus does nothing more than request a power increase from the computer. If the computer doesn't like all the airplane and engine parameters you don't get a power increase. Airbus blamed the dead crew since they couldn't defend themselves. A Boeing would still be flying."