Sunday, January 03, 2010

Hercules Extras

There were so many things I learned about the Hercules C-130 and only so much room for asides during sim sessions that this topic has been held over for another blog entry. If you have any questions about the airplane that I can't answer, we can draw on John and knowledgeable readers to find out.

I feel a little guilty about setting a poor example, in that from beginning to end we had almost no plan for the sim session. The time, time of day and the like kept changing with no guarantee I would be able to actually fly it, so we never sat down to make a flight plan. An alternate titles for that blog entry was How Not to Fly an Unfamiliar Airplane. It worked out pretty well, but I wish I had done fewer turns and stalls so I had time for another circuit.

Wikipedia hosts this image of a C-130J HUD but it doesn't look exactly what I saw. I assume the display is somewhat user-customizable, as implied by this fascinating article about testing of the concept of using automation to reduce the number of crew members on board a Hercules. These testers didn't like the HUD as presented in their simulation, but it was simply superimposed over the scenery on the same screen, so not the same at all. I noticed, however, that the same technology was used at the instructor station in the sim I was in, for the instructor's view of what the pilots are seeing. I didn't realize until this experience how useful a HUD would be. Boss, if you're secretly reading my blog, you now know what I want for Christmas.

Looking for information to use to prepare myself for the sim, I found this document. It gives truly excellent advice, most of which is obvious to me now, but which I wish I had had prior to training for my first type rating. Unfortunately it is a companion to the computerized study materials on the C-130J and contains only generic advice, not the aircraft-specific information I sought. John couldn't give me the study CD, although it was probably copyright and not military classification that forbade the external release of the data.

Advice on pre-departure briefings is eye-opening, because of all the various hazards the crew might have to look at, especially flying in parts of the world with poor availability of weather forecasting. And this study question reminds me that there's a type of briefing I never get from Nav Canada when I call:

Before leaving home station on missions departing the CONUS, crews will receive a (an) ____________ briefing that will emphasize terrorist, enemy, and friendly political and military development in the area in which they will be flying.

I have the image of a METAR style symbology with teletype-style abbreviations representing the likelihood of various types of enemy action throughout the day, ending in, "and a thirty per cent probability of small children asking for chocolate and chewing gum in the streets during daylight hours."

Amusingly, one earlier commenter implied that one has to be an American citizen to fly a Hercules. Not true at all. While it is American designed and built, the aircraft is operated by so many countries, including my own, that the list itself has its own Wikipedia article and I don't care to count its members. One of the best summaries I saw of all the missions it can perform was in a magazine article on the use of the C-130 in Australia.

I have more information on those turns, including detailed pre-paradrop checklists and a description of approaching an aerodrome in IMC while staying inside the secured perimeter. I'm sure there are a lot of tricks this thing can do that aren't documented anywhere. It's a versatile airplane that has performed all kinds of missions, all over the world for over fifty years. But I bet it's a bitch and a half to deice in the winter, and good luck finding hangar space for it where I'm going next.


Angus said...

Here's a Canadian civilian herc (L382)starring in a TV commercial.
Flown by Canadian citizens!

A Squared said...

Aviatrix wrote: Amusingly, one earlier commenter implied that one has to be an American citizen to fly a Hercules.

I think that you misread the commenter's meaning. I read that as a joke about you joining the US military to fly Hercs every day, not a comment that one had to be a US citizen in order to fly them. I guess only "anonymous" knows for sure what he meant.

FWIW you don't even have to take an oath of citizenship to join the US military.

John couldn't give me the study CD, although it was probably copyright and not military classification that forbade the external release of the data.

You might be surprised. I was informed when I began training to fly the Herc that it would be a violation of US state department regulation for me to give others outside of the company aircraft training materials. The information isn't "classified" but it is controlled, at least in theory.

david said...

Whatever the anonymous poster meant, for anyone flying (or even driving) between Ottawa or Montreal and Toronto, Canadian-flown Hercs are almost as common a sight as Cessnas, especially when you're close to CFB Trenton.

They often practice low-level S&R work around the whole area of Eastern Ontario (especially between Trenton and Petawawa) -- enough so that there's a special advisory area -- and the Herc pilots sometimes aren't averse to wagging their wings to say 'hi' to a Cherokee pilot.

majroj said...

South African Herc. Wonder at what point they "reverse props"?

Their design predecessors were gliders for WWII, it is little surprise that their wings tend not to tolerate as many firefighting bombing runs as other types.

That said, spent a number of flights passenging in them, including San Francisco to Britain in sling seats and curled up on palettes of luggage/gear. Tough old birds! Flown by many nations in many configurations onto many runways.
Oh, yes, Happy New Year!

A Squared said...

Their design predecessors were gliders for WWII

I don't beleive that this is true. As far as I have been able to determine the herc was a clean sheet design. Yo may be thinking of the C-123 which was an adaptation of the Chase XCG-20 glider

Adeian said...

Here is something else a Herc can do. Land on an aircraft carrier.

There is the story and videos of one landing on the USS Forrestal.

Jim said...

The fighter jock got on the radio and told the C-130 pilot, "Watch this!" and promptly went into a barrel roll followed by a steep climb. He then finished with a sonic boom as he broke the sound barrier.

The F-16 pilot asked the C-130 pilot what he thought of that.

The C-130 pilot said, "That was impressive, but watch this!"

The C-130 droned along for about 5 minutes, and then the C-130 pilot came back on the radio and said, "What did you think of that?"

Puzzled, the F-16 pilot asked, "I didn't see anything. What the hell did you do?"

The C-130 pilot chuckled, "I stood up, stretched my legs, went to the back, took a leak, then got a cup of coffee and a sweet roll."

Dafydd said...

Hope it's not to late for some informed opinion but earlier comment regarding rolling an actual Hercules has been buggging me . I have worked and flown in the load bay of many RAF Charlies and there is ALWAYS a shed load of loose gear back there - lashing chains - tensioners - floor anchors etc etc . OK it's (mostly) binned but if the aircraft did invert it would all fall out , and then of course back again .That is a hail storm of seriously solid stuff .
It's difficult to imagine any flight crew would be so irresponsible - would they ?

nec Timide said...

Rolling something like a C130, without special preparation (like securing loose objects, getting permission etc) could probably be the definition of responsibility. Having said that, the target maneuver would be a barrel roll rather than an ailereon roll. This would keep positive G on the contents throughout. For a demonstration see this video

nec Timide said...

Er... that should read the definition of irresponsibility.

I should probably resolve not to irresponsibly allow Google to correct my typing.

Critical Alpha said...

That article on Aussie C130s brought back memories. I used to have an office directly under the eastern approach to RAAF Richmond, at abut the point you'd call "short final". The Hercs would drone in and out all day, you got pretty used to the noise. It was nothing like as bad as the B707 which was also based at RAAF Richmond at that time - it was a real screamer.
In 1989 there was a domestic pilots' dispute in Australia and the government bought in the RAAF to keep at least some air traffic moving. I did a return trip as a pax Canberra to Sydney in a C130H. The normal troop seats were in the back, but if you could find a spare spot on the flight deck you were welcome to use it - and I did. The approach into the east at YSSY was spectacular. At one stage we were asked to slow down when well established on final. The pilot simply reduced thrust, pulled the nose up and did a series of S turns. When the crossing a/c had landed he simply lowered the nose, added thrust and proceeded to land himself. A lovely demo of laid back practicality.
Thanks for this series.

majroj said...

Rolling a Herc...when the toilets (at least in ours) were basically buckets behind curtains or urine tubes with funnels...nnnnope.
Maybe a tight loop simulating a continuous 1-G/eyes-down condition?