Tag Archives: aircraft carrier

Look Ma, No Hook: how a C-130 Hercules managed to land on an aircraft carrier

The story of  the C-130 Hercules that landed on USS Forrestal

Even if, nowadays, the C-2 Greyhound is the biggest transport aircraft designed specifically for carrier operations, on Oct. 30 1963, in an attempt to investigate the possibilities of using the C-130 for logistic support for U.S. fleet, a Hercules made an experimental landing on the aircraft carrier USS Forrestal (CVA-59).

With the successful test, which took place in moderately rough seas in the North Atlantic 500 miles off the coast of Boston, the Hercules became the largest and heaviest aircraft to ever land on an aircraft carrier, a record that stands to this day.

The idea behind this unusual test was the so-called “Super Carrier Onboard Delivery” (Super COD) aircraft.

The COD concept was born to resupply aircraft carriers with urgently needed items. At the beginning of the 1960s, the airplane used for such task was the Grumman C-1 Trader, a twin piston-engine aircraft with a limited payload capacity and 300-mile range, the Chief of Naval Operations ordered to assess the possibility of operating a bigger transport airplane aboard the Norfolk-based USS Forrestal (CVA-59).

As explained by Joseph Earl Dabney in his book Herk: Hero of the Skies the C-130 was selected for its stability and reliability, combined with a long cruising range and the capability of carrying large payloads.

The crew for this historic test consisted of Lt. James H. Flatley III, pilot; Lt. Cmdr. W.W. Stovall, copilot; ADR-1 E.F. Brennan, flight engineer; and Lockheed engineering flight test pilot Ted H. Limmer, Jr.

When Lt. James H. Flatley III was told about his new assignment, he thought somebody was pulling his leg. “Operate a C-130 off an aircraft carrier? Somebody’s got to be kidding,” he said.

According to Dabney a KC-130F refueler transport (BuNo 149798), on loan from the U.S. Marines and delivered on Oct. 8, 1963 was chosen for the historical trial.

Lockheed’s only modifications to the original plane was a smaller nose-landing gear orifice, an improved anti-skid braking system, and removal of the underwing refueling pods. “The big worry was whether we could meet the maximum sink rate of nine feet per second,” Flatley said. But, the Navy was amazed to find they were able to better this mark by a substantial margin.

The initial sea trials started on Oct. 30 1963 and were conducted into a 40-knot wind: however the crew successfully performed 29 touch-and-go landings, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs at gross weights of 85,000 pounds up to 121,000 pounds.

At 85,000 pounds, the KC-130F came to a complete stop within 267 feet, about twice the aircraft’s wing span as remarked by Dabney on his book.

The Navy discovered that even with a maximum payload, the plane used only 745 feet of flight deck for takeoff and 460 feet for landing. These achievements were confirmed by Lockheed’s Ted Limmer, who checked out fighter pilot Flatley in the C-130 and stayed on for some of the initial touch-and-go and full-stop landings. “The last landing I participated in, we touched down about 150 feet from the end, stopped in 270 feet more and launched from that position, using what was left of the deck. We still had a couple hundred feet left when we lifted off.”

The plane’s wingspan cleared the Forrestal’s flight deck “island” control tower by just under 15 feet as the plane roared down the deck on a specially painted line.

As explained by Dabney, Lockheed’s chief engineer, Art E. Flock was aboard the USS Forrestal to observe the testing. “The sea was pretty big that day. I was up on the captain’s bridge. I watched a man on the ship’s bow as that bow must have gone up and down 30 feet.”

The speed of the ship was increased 10 knots to reduce yaw motion and to reduce wind direction: in this way, when the plane landed, it had a 40 to 50 kts wind on the nose. “That airplane stopped right opposite the captain’s bridge,” recalled Flock. “There was cheering and laughing. There on the side of the fuselage, a big sign had been painted on that said, “LOOK MA, NO HOOK.”

The analysis of data collected by the U.S. Navy during the tests highlighted that the C-130 Hercules could carry 25,000 pounds of freight, fly for 2,500 miles and eventually land on a carrier. However, the procedure was considered a bit too risky for the C-130 and the Navy decided to use a smaller COD aircraft. For his effort, the Navy awarded Flatley the Distinguished Flying Cross.

In the video below you can see the trials conducted by the Hercules on the USS Forrestal and described in the article.

 Image credit: U.S. Navy

 

Awesome GoPro video gives flight deck inspector’s view of F/A-18 final check and cat launch

Here’s a cool GoPro video showing the final check of an F/A-18C Hornet right before catapult launch.

An interesting footage, shot by a “white shirt” on the flight deck of USS George H. W. Bush, shows the final checks on a VFA-87 F/A-18C Hornet before cat launch.

Final Checkers are flight deck inspectors which make final exterior checks of the aircraft, watch certain parts of the launching aircraft before give thumbs up before it is launched.

040213-N-4768W-003

Image credit: U.S. Navy

H/T Matt Fanning for the heads-up

 

That time a C-2 Greyhound nearly went overboard USS Nimitz

Landing on an aircraft carrier in rough seas can be quite dangerous

On Oct. 9, 2001, a C-2A Greyhound COD (Carrier On board Delivery) plane carrying Argentine dignitaries aboard experienced a mishap during a trap landing on the USS Nimitz: the left leg of the main landing gear went overboard and the aircraft almost fell in the ocean.

The PLAT (Pilot Landing Aid Television) footage clearly shows the pilot struggling to properly align the aircraft to the flight deck from the start of the final approach. A series of corrections, with a hard one right before touched down caused the aircraft to veer off the flight deck.

Fortunately, the C-2 got one of the wires and was able to come to a stop before falling overboard.

C-2 overboard landing gear

Here’s a video of the mishap (click this link as the video can’t be embedded out of Youtube).

H/T to @Alert5 for the link to the YT video.

 

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Russian aircraft carrier still in the Mediterranean Sea. NATO planes watch closely

Aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still in the Mediterranean where it operates watched closely by NATO E-3 AWACS.

Even if it has reportedly ended its mission and headed for Severomorsk, Russia’s aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov is still sailing in the Mediterranean Sea.

Its position can be determined based on the NOTAMs (Notice To Airmen) issued for the Algiers FIR (Flight Information Region).

Two of them provide details about the area of operation of the aircraft operating from the carrier:

A0962/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA BRAVO (B): 3900N 00500E 3900N 00700E 3740N 00700E 3720N 00500E 3900N 00500E. SFC – FL180, APR 23 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 23 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:54 2014

A0961/14 – AIRSPACE RESERVATION FOR RUSSIAN NAVY WILL TAKE PLACE PLAN FLTS FM ACFT CARRIER AVIATION WI AREA ALPHA (A): 3745N 00220E 3825N 00400E 3720N 00400E 3700N 00210E 3745N 00220E. SFC – FL160, APR 24 25 AND 26 HR:0800-1700, 24 APR 08:00 2014 UNTIL 26 APR 17:00 2014. CREATED: 21 APR 09:47 2014

Russia aircraft carrier

Image above shows the waypoints of Area B put on a map using Skyvector.

While such warnings are often issued for (U.S.) aircraft carriers hence they are not really special, what is worth noticing is that the flying activity of the Russians in the Mediterranean Sea is watched closely by NATO E-3 planes.

Indeed, it seems that NATO AEW (Airborne Early Warning) planes have frequently operated in the Southeastern Mediterranean in the last few days, while Admiral Kuznetsov transited south of Malta towards the waters off Algeria, between Sardinia and the Balearic islands.

Most probably, the E-3s are not only observing the Sukhoi Su-33 Flanker-D all-weather carrier-based air defence fighters but also performing routine electronic surveillance by means of onboard electronic support measures (ESM).

H/T Roberto Petagna for sending us the relevant NOTAMs

Image credit: Russian Navy

 

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Chinese Navy’s 65th Anniversary Video looks like Beijing’s Top Gun remake

China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning and its J-15s are the protagonists of a celebratory Top Gun-type video.

In order to celebrate the 65th anniversary of the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN), Chinese state-owned aerospace and defense company AVIC (Aviation Industry Corporation of China), commissioned a music video featuring the Shenyang J-15 Flying Shark carrier-borne fighter.

Footage is quite interesting, with cockpit and flight deck scenes. The soundtrack is not as cool.

By the way, the video shows when the selfie of the J-15 pilot launching from the deck of Liaoning aircraft carrier comes from.

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