Warning

 

Close

Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
Member Login

Posted: 11/12/2012 4:46:13 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/12/2012 4:52:21 PM EST by CFII]
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 4:51:39 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:07:59 PM EST
This makes Ron Whites lugnut story sound boring!
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:08:35 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:08:40 PM EST
Some A&P mechanics are going to find that their paychecks are going to be a little late...please report to the supervisor's office.
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:13:56 PM EST
The fron.. flaps fell off?
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:37:40 PM EST
Crazy shit happens all the time. The VX squadron down in Pax River had a external fuel tank fall off in flight. They also had a life raft inflate in flight also. Both incidents were near crashes.
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:39:45 PM EST
My shop was at the end of the run way at an AFB...we had all sorts of shit drop on the buiding from aircraft.
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:42:01 PM EST
Originally Posted By beardog30:
My shop was at the end of the run way at an AFB...we had all sorts of shit drop on the buiding from aircraft.


TFOA
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:46:38 PM EST
I'd say it gives new meaning to a "no-flap landing".
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:52:24 PM EST
4 thousand square feet? Holy fuck.
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 5:55:16 PM EST

Originally Posted By ruger556boy:
Crazy shit happens all the time. The VX squadron down in Pax River had a external fuel tank fall off in flight. They also had a life raft inflate in flight also. Both incidents were near crashes.

Yup...

by Dan Sanders [ abridged ] Approach September - October 2006

It was supposed to be a routine logistical flight.

Our six crew members included an active-duty Marine test pilot, four aircrew from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20, and a Federal flight test engineer.

Our passengers included four maintenance people and a Navy active-duty maintainer. We also carried various maintenance pack-up items and baggage.

Our mission was to reposition a Hercules KC-130T, to the expeditionary airfield at Twenty-Nine Palms for electronic-propeller-control system field testing.

We had flown this Hercules through every imaginable test configuration at NAS Pax River. All that remained was to evaluate system performance at low-level. For several days, we would fly routine missions at low altitude in the desert before returning the ' Herc ' to its parent unit.

About an hour or so after take-off, we were settled into a routine flight at 24M on autopilot. I was in the right seat and just had gotten into a comfortable position . .

. . when the Hercules suddenly pitched up hard while rolling left.

The aircraft commander (A/C) and I simultaneously lurched forward as we pushed our autopilot-disconnects. We both thought the autopilot caused an uncommanded pitch-up and wing drop.

To our further alarm, the C-130 continued its hard G pitch-up and aileron pressure . .

On its own !

Then it continued to roll more harshly to the left.

Both of us were on the controls against the roll. But it over-whelmed our combined strength. When the wings rotating beyond vertical, the Herc's nose sliced through the artificial horizon into a rolling, inverted dive.

The AIrcraft Commander : " MY controls."

I released. Although, I must admit my giving up the control yoke was not easy.

We all watched helplessly as the Hercules rolled completely over on her back, then pitched roughly, straight down.

The Herc accelerated into a rapid spinning dive to the left, as I watched my attitude indicator ' go full brown side ' while rotating like a kid's top.

Our little world suddenly became violent. Our flight engineer was pinned to the cockpit's ceiling. At the wrong time, he had unfastened his seat belt and was leaning far forward to make a fuel adjustment.

During the second diving rotation, as we experienced Negative G's and a snow storm of helmet bags, IFR approach plates, papers, coffee, dirt, dislodged knobs, were joined with a odd flight of a Subway sandwich, floating like a towed banner across my side vision.

Pandemonium reigned in the passenger/cargo area. Not one person had their seat belt on. Or even loosely in place.

Along with intense fear/terror of the unknown, all of the passengers were tossed to the ceiling and were trashed around each other within a swirling storm of loose items Herc had accumulated over its service life.

As the Hercules flew on, out of control, I saw the left seater's attitude indicator was not matching my own. In fact, it was flipping strangely and ratcheting around.

Both airspeed indicators showed 350 knots as the A/C strugged to pull up the Herc's nose. After noticing our high airspeed, I was certain that the throttles were still at cruise power. I pulled the the throttles back to flight idle.

I didn't ask.

As our airspeed began to fall off. I checked my turn and bank indicator, and I saw an uncoordinated ball max'd right, with its turn needle max'd the other direction.

I shouted, "We're spinning,"

The yell shifted the Aircraft Commander's eye balls to his turn and bank. He quickly reacted, as the Herc entered a third rotation.

The Herc's gyrations began to slow. The A/C had stopped the roll rate with rudder, but we were still pointed almost straight down.

As his attitude gyro was flipping around uselessly, he was now focusing on his rate of descent and altimeter, to perceive up from down.

As he tried to move the C-130's nose up to the horizon, I became aware of the incredible whining sound. Previously unnoticed. And over which we had both been shouting, the propellor on # 3 was reading 106% overspeed.

Still in cloud at 5,000 feet we finally got the wings level. We declared an emergency to Indianapolis Center and requested vectors to our nearest runway and also to allow us to descend out of the goop into VMC.

Still uncertain why the Herc departed controlled flight, we began to assess what caused it and check on passenger injuries. We instructed our flight test engineer to go aft. He pulled our loadmaster from under a stack of five folks that had been tossed around like tennis shoes in a clothes dryer. Fortunately, there was just a head wound, broken bones, and larcerations.

Once we descended into visual conditions, we got our first ground reference since the emergency, as we got a visual on the airport ahead.

Then someone then came over the intercom saying we were on fire. We scanned our instruments, nacelles, wings and everything visible to check for a fire. Nothing. With no time to look further, we told Indy Center the aircraft might on fire and we required an immediate landing.

Surveying the Herc's interior scenario, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Debris and passengers were strewn all over the cargo area. The flight deck was now piled with everything, including a set of wheel chocks that had migrated forward from the cargo compartment.

Turning on final approach, we had no approach plates, or checklists. Our navigator frantically grabbed through the debris to find what we needed.

Once we got our hands on the Huntington plate in West Virginia, we made a normal recovery and safe landing. Fearing fire somewhere onboard, we just taxied clear of the runway, shut down and set the brakes. Gathering our injured we evacuated.

No fire, sowe climbed back in to discover what caused our life-threatening odyssey.

The was a 20-man life raft rammed into the Herc's tail feathers.

It had deployed in-flight from its wing-storage and was lodged in left horizontal stabilizer's leading edge.



A visual inspection of the aircraft by the aircrew determined both left wing life rafts had deployed in flight. And one of them had wrapped around the horizontal stabilizer, pushing the elevator full up.

We had ( 1 ) rolled over at least twice, ( 2 ) lost 9,000 feet of altitude ( 3 ) at a maximum descent rate of 29M feet per minute, ( 4 ) probably exceeded three positive and 2 negative G's [ limits = plus 3 and negative 1 ] ( 5 ) with airspeed touching 460 Knots.

The data pallet [along to record flight-test data] captured invaluable performance data and allowed us to reconstruct our flight profile. Then after extensive inspections and repairs, we later flew our aircraft home.

Reflecting on this harrowing experience, I was reminded of our good fortune in having a truly professional air crew, engaged in the important work of testing Navy-aircraft systems.

We not only survived a catastrophic malfunction, but we maintained our resilient sense of humor [ as attested to by my spotting a four-leaf clover, which I still keep in my flight suit.]

Later, a crew member found some money lying on the ground. And we all had a good laugh when one of our group said : " This must be our lucky day."

Dan Sanders is a retired Marine Corps major, employed as a contract pilot with VX-20.

Analyst comments:

No one is immune to the Blue Threat [ life-threatening equipment failure.] In this instance, the cockpit of the mishap aircraft was chock full of flying experience and expertise. This aircrew did an outstanding job recovering after an uncommanded deployment of life rafts attached to the C130's right wing.

One lesson worth repeating is : every time you fly, remain ' strapped in ' unless you have a need to move about the aircraft [IAW NATOPS.] It would have prevented multiple injuries among both crew and passengers.

The second ' Blue Threat ' is when the crew did not sufficiently recognize, then attempt to mitigate an existing known hazard of uncommanded deployment of life rafts from C-130 aircraft.

There had been ( 6 ) six documented similar instances in the Hercules C-130. Effective safety processes must be promulgated and ' robust ' enough to compel recognization and comprehension of the risks of known operational hazards. Failure to do so puts the aircrew and their passengers at risk.

––Cdr. John Morrison, C-130 analyst, Naval Safety Center [ abridged ]


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

James Darcy [Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series.]

Photo by Jim Jenkins
Rear Adm. Jeff Wieringa, NAWCAD Commander, right, pins the Air Medal on Marine Corps Maj. Nathan Neblett for saving the lives of the passengers and crew of his KC-130T during an April mishap.

The world turned upside down April 12 for the 11 occupants of a KC-130T from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) when, at 24,000 feet on a cross-country flight, a 200-pound life raft deployed from inside the left wing and snagged on the tail. With the raft functioning like a lopsided drag chute, the aircraft rolled inverted and began a spiraling dive toward earth.

Maj. Nathan Neblett worked to get the plane righted while dealing with a failure of the instrument that provided his primary reference for which way was up. In the back of the aircraft, loadmaster Sandy Hartkemeyer and five aircraft maintainers were turned into projectiles in the open tube of the fuselage, along with a storm of potentially deadly gear and supplies.

The operating procedures for the burly C-130 Hercules strictly prohibit "aerobatics of any kind (including those that produce a negative-G condition), intentional spins, excessively nose-high stalls, steep dives, and any other maneuvers resulting in excessive accelerations." Such deviations, it warns, can stress the airframe to failure, lead to unrecoverable loss of control, or both. In a matter of seconds, the plane had involuntarily broken every rule in the book.

In the cockpit, pilot Neblett was fighting for control; he had immediately disengaged the autopilot and was now making control inputs that his experience as a test pilot told him should arrest the spin. Copilot Dan Sanders, who had pulled the throttles back to idle, was scanning the instruments and fighting his instinct to reach for the yoke himself.

"It was a conscious effort; I had to throw my hands up," said Sanders, who accumulated 4,600 hours as a Marine Corps C-130 Hercules pilot before retiring as a major a year ago.

"Out of 11 people onboard, only two could do anything about it, and one of them had to let go," Neblett said.

Behind the pilots, flight engineer Wray Emrich had flown out of his seat and slammed off the ceiling of the cockpit; he later found wounds in his scalp that conformed to the arrangement of switches over his head. He managed to grab hold of his seatbelt and drag himself back down, then held on with all his strength during the violent ride, like a rodeo cowboy trying to stay on a bucking bull. Flight test engineer Ray Bacorn and navigator Craig Homer were hanging on as best they could, while everything that wasn't nailed down became airborne.

"The only thing that didn't move," Neblett said, "was our instrument panel."

Throughout the airframe, the noise was tremendous.

In the cockpit, everyone was shouting to be heard, Sanders said; his intercom switch was on the control yoke, which he could not risk grabbing.

Other occupants reported hearing the airframe groan under the strain of all the G-forces.

The most ominous sound for Emrich was the howling of the engines, though; the incredible onset of airspeed had caused the props themselves to over-speed, reaching 106 percent of their correct RPM. Flameouts were very real and deadly possibilities. But the engines held, a fact that Sanders attributes in part to the excellent responsiveness of the new Electronic Propeller Control System that was installed on the plane for testing.

In the C-130, engine speed and propeller speed are supposed to stay constant throughout flight; the actual velocity of the aircraft is controlled by changing the pitch angle of the propeller blades. The EPCS replaces the old hydraulic and mechanical system that controls propeller pitch, instead using electronic sensors and actuators that should be more reliable and respond rapidly to inputs and changes. No one, however, had ever anticipated validating the new system's performance under such dire circumstances.

As the altitude wound away, Neblett managed to get the wings level for a moment, long enough for a glimmer of hope. Then, with the life raft still attached to the left half of the tail, the KC-130T went inverted again.

"I remember thinking, 'We're never going to come out of this," recalled Emrich.

"Twenty-two years flying in the Navy," thought Hartkemeyer, "and not even a year here at VX-20, and this is it."

Still, no one gave up. Neblett continued his work at the controls, applying the best of his test piloting expertise to regain control of the stricken tanker. At some point the raging airflow over the outside of the fuselage was enough to tear almost all of the life raft free. Neblett worked with Sanders, who had the benefit of a functional Attitude Direction Indicator, and somehow managed to get the wings level again. He pulled back on the yoke, and slowly the plane came out of its speeding dive.

When he leveled off, the altimeter read 15,000 feet. The entire episode had lasted less than half a minute, during which the aircraft's maximum rate of descent reached 29,000 feet per minute.

And still no one knew exactly what had happened or why, which meant no one knew if it was going to happen again.

Hartkemeyer tried to come up on the intercom, but her cord had been ripped apart at the connector.

"When everything stopped," said Emrich, "I couldn't hear anyone in the back. I needed to know the condition of the airplane and personnel, and no one answered."

Miraculously, though, none of the injuries were life-threatening. Despite having taken a terrible beating, Hartkemeyer assumed control of her part of the plane.

Neblett and Sanders concentrated on flying the aircraft and getting pointed toward the nearest airport, which actually involved turning the plane around. Focused on the task at hand on the flight deck, Sanders told Emrich, "I do not want to know if there's no plane behind us."

Sanders radioed the authorities at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W. Va., to say that he had wounded aboard and would be making an emergency landing.

Later, Neblett would praise crew resource management - the right combination of good communication, situational awareness and sharing of the workload - for getting them all through the crisis. Landing checklists were lost somewhere in the wild snowdrifts of paper all over the floor of the cockpit, but procedures were nonetheless executed correctly.

A short time later, Neblett made an uneventful landing, taxied off the runway and shut down the aircraft.

"Once we hit the ground and cleared the aircraft you begin to come apart," said Emrich.

The day's work was far from over. In the aftermath of the mishap, various Navy and Marine Corps commands had to be contacted, the aircraft had to be secured for investigators, and the local and national media needed to be dealt with. Above all the crew and passengers - whose injuries included broken fingers and a variety of contusions and lacerations - needed medical care and lodging.

Neblett and the rest of the shaken survivors received a generous helping of West Virginia hospitality, particularly from airport officials and the local National Guard and Air National Guard.

It has been almost half a year since the incident, and today the same crew is flying the same KC-130T, which has been repaired and recertified, on test flights for VX-20. The mishap has become a learning opportunity, briefed to other aviators and maintainers, as well as a permanent piece of C-130 folklore. Neblett received his Air Medal in late August, for somehow writing a happy ending on a story that easily could have concluded with a memorial service.

"His aeronautical instinct, aggressiveness, and level head led to the remarkable recovery of a non-aerobatic aircraft from uncontrolled flight while sustaining absolutely minimum damage," his award citation reads. "Maj. Neblett's superb airmanship, decisive decision-making, perseverance, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 6:29:16 PM EST
I guess they fell off in a symmetrical fashion? Thank God for that at least...
Link Posted: 11/12/2012 6:30:25 PM EST
If they only overhaul a dozen/year, I'm surprised they can even stay in practice.

Admit it.
If you screwed 12 times/year, (twice the average of the normal married man), you'd be out of practice, too.


Link Posted: 11/12/2012 8:09:47 PM EST
Originally Posted By GunnyG:

Originally Posted By ruger556boy:
Crazy shit happens all the time. The VX squadron down in Pax River had a external fuel tank fall off in flight. They also had a life raft inflate in flight also. Both incidents were near crashes.

Yup...

by Dan Sanders [ abridged ] Approach September - October 2006

It was supposed to be a routine logistical flight.

Our six crew members included an active-duty Marine test pilot, four aircrew from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron VX-20, and a Federal flight test engineer.

Our passengers included four maintenance people and a Navy active-duty maintainer. We also carried various maintenance pack-up items and baggage.

Our mission was to reposition a Hercules KC-130T, to the expeditionary airfield at Twenty-Nine Palms for electronic-propeller-control system field testing.

We had flown this Hercules through every imaginable test configuration at NAS Pax River. All that remained was to evaluate system performance at low-level. For several days, we would fly routine missions at low altitude in the desert before returning the ' Herc ' to its parent unit.

About an hour or so after take-off, we were settled into a routine flight at 24M on autopilot. I was in the right seat and just had gotten into a comfortable position . .

. . when the Hercules suddenly pitched up hard while rolling left.

The aircraft commander (A/C) and I simultaneously lurched forward as we pushed our autopilot-disconnects. We both thought the autopilot caused an uncommanded pitch-up and wing drop.

To our further alarm, the C-130 continued its hard G pitch-up and aileron pressure . .

On its own !

Then it continued to roll more harshly to the left.

Both of us were on the controls against the roll. But it over-whelmed our combined strength. When the wings rotating beyond vertical, the Herc's nose sliced through the artificial horizon into a rolling, inverted dive.

The AIrcraft Commander : " MY controls."

I released. Although, I must admit my giving up the control yoke was not easy.

We all watched helplessly as the Hercules rolled completely over on her back, then pitched roughly, straight down.

The Herc accelerated into a rapid spinning dive to the left, as I watched my attitude indicator ' go full brown side ' while rotating like a kid's top.

Our little world suddenly became violent. Our flight engineer was pinned to the cockpit's ceiling. At the wrong time, he had unfastened his seat belt and was leaning far forward to make a fuel adjustment.

During the second diving rotation, as we experienced Negative G's and a snow storm of helmet bags, IFR approach plates, papers, coffee, dirt, dislodged knobs, were joined with a odd flight of a Subway sandwich, floating like a towed banner across my side vision.

Pandemonium reigned in the passenger/cargo area. Not one person had their seat belt on. Or even loosely in place.

Along with intense fear/terror of the unknown, all of the passengers were tossed to the ceiling and were trashed around each other within a swirling storm of loose items Herc had accumulated over its service life.

As the Hercules flew on, out of control, I saw the left seater's attitude indicator was not matching my own. In fact, it was flipping strangely and ratcheting around.

Both airspeed indicators showed 350 knots as the A/C strugged to pull up the Herc's nose. After noticing our high airspeed, I was certain that the throttles were still at cruise power. I pulled the the throttles back to flight idle.

I didn't ask.

As our airspeed began to fall off. I checked my turn and bank indicator, and I saw an uncoordinated ball max'd right, with its turn needle max'd the other direction.

I shouted, "We're spinning,"

The yell shifted the Aircraft Commander's eye balls to his turn and bank. He quickly reacted, as the Herc entered a third rotation.

The Herc's gyrations began to slow. The A/C had stopped the roll rate with rudder, but we were still pointed almost straight down.

As his attitude gyro was flipping around uselessly, he was now focusing on his rate of descent and altimeter, to perceive up from down.

As he tried to move the C-130's nose up to the horizon, I became aware of the incredible whining sound. Previously unnoticed. And over which we had both been shouting, the propellor on # 3 was reading 106% overspeed.

Still in cloud at 5,000 feet we finally got the wings level. We declared an emergency to Indianapolis Center and requested vectors to our nearest runway and also to allow us to descend out of the goop into VMC.

Still uncertain why the Herc departed controlled flight, we began to assess what caused it and check on passenger injuries. We instructed our flight test engineer to go aft. He pulled our loadmaster from under a stack of five folks that had been tossed around like tennis shoes in a clothes dryer. Fortunately, there was just a head wound, broken bones, and larcerations.

Once we descended into visual conditions, we got our first ground reference since the emergency, as we got a visual on the airport ahead.

Then someone then came over the intercom saying we were on fire. We scanned our instruments, nacelles, wings and everything visible to check for a fire. Nothing. With no time to look further, we told Indy Center the aircraft might on fire and we required an immediate landing.

Surveying the Herc's interior scenario, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Debris and passengers were strewn all over the cargo area. The flight deck was now piled with everything, including a set of wheel chocks that had migrated forward from the cargo compartment.

Turning on final approach, we had no approach plates, or checklists. Our navigator frantically grabbed through the debris to find what we needed.

Once we got our hands on the Huntington plate in West Virginia, we made a normal recovery and safe landing. Fearing fire somewhere onboard, we just taxied clear of the runway, shut down and set the brakes. Gathering our injured we evacuated.

No fire, sowe climbed back in to discover what caused our life-threatening odyssey.

The was a 20-man life raft rammed into the Herc's tail feathers.

It had deployed in-flight from its wing-storage and was lodged in left horizontal stabilizer's leading edge.



A visual inspection of the aircraft by the aircrew determined both left wing life rafts had deployed in flight. And one of them had wrapped around the horizontal stabilizer, pushing the elevator full up.

We had ( 1 ) rolled over at least twice, ( 2 ) lost 9,000 feet of altitude ( 3 ) at a maximum descent rate of 29M feet per minute, ( 4 ) probably exceeded three positive and 2 negative G's [ limits = plus 3 and negative 1 ] ( 5 ) with airspeed touching 460 Knots.

The data pallet [along to record flight-test data] captured invaluable performance data and allowed us to reconstruct our flight profile. Then after extensive inspections and repairs, we later flew our aircraft home.

Reflecting on this harrowing experience, I was reminded of our good fortune in having a truly professional air crew, engaged in the important work of testing Navy-aircraft systems.

We not only survived a catastrophic malfunction, but we maintained our resilient sense of humor [ as attested to by my spotting a four-leaf clover, which I still keep in my flight suit.]

Later, a crew member found some money lying on the ground. And we all had a good laugh when one of our group said : " This must be our lucky day."

Dan Sanders is a retired Marine Corps major, employed as a contract pilot with VX-20.

Analyst comments:

No one is immune to the Blue Threat [ life-threatening equipment failure.] In this instance, the cockpit of the mishap aircraft was chock full of flying experience and expertise. This aircrew did an outstanding job recovering after an uncommanded deployment of life rafts attached to the C130's right wing.

One lesson worth repeating is : every time you fly, remain ' strapped in ' unless you have a need to move about the aircraft [IAW NATOPS.] It would have prevented multiple injuries among both crew and passengers.

The second ' Blue Threat ' is when the crew did not sufficiently recognize, then attempt to mitigate an existing known hazard of uncommanded deployment of life rafts from C-130 aircraft.

There had been ( 6 ) six documented similar instances in the Hercules C-130. Effective safety processes must be promulgated and ' robust ' enough to compel recognization and comprehension of the risks of known operational hazards. Failure to do so puts the aircrew and their passengers at risk.

––Cdr. John Morrison, C-130 analyst, Naval Safety Center [ abridged ]


Wednesday, September 28, 2005

James Darcy [Editor's note: This is the second of a two-part series.]
http://ww2.dcmilitary.com/dcmilitary_archives/images/2457_nebletme.jpg

Photo by Jim Jenkins
Rear Adm. Jeff Wieringa, NAWCAD Commander, right, pins the Air Medal on Marine Corps Maj. Nathan Neblett for saving the lives of the passengers and crew of his KC-130T during an April mishap.

The world turned upside down April 12 for the 11 occupants of a KC-130T from Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) when, at 24,000 feet on a cross-country flight, a 200-pound life raft deployed from inside the left wing and snagged on the tail. With the raft functioning like a lopsided drag chute, the aircraft rolled inverted and began a spiraling dive toward earth.

Maj. Nathan Neblett worked to get the plane righted while dealing with a failure of the instrument that provided his primary reference for which way was up. In the back of the aircraft, loadmaster Sandy Hartkemeyer and five aircraft maintainers were turned into projectiles in the open tube of the fuselage, along with a storm of potentially deadly gear and supplies.

The operating procedures for the burly C-130 Hercules strictly prohibit "aerobatics of any kind (including those that produce a negative-G condition), intentional spins, excessively nose-high stalls, steep dives, and any other maneuvers resulting in excessive accelerations." Such deviations, it warns, can stress the airframe to failure, lead to unrecoverable loss of control, or both. In a matter of seconds, the plane had involuntarily broken every rule in the book.

In the cockpit, pilot Neblett was fighting for control; he had immediately disengaged the autopilot and was now making control inputs that his experience as a test pilot told him should arrest the spin. Copilot Dan Sanders, who had pulled the throttles back to idle, was scanning the instruments and fighting his instinct to reach for the yoke himself.

"It was a conscious effort; I had to throw my hands up," said Sanders, who accumulated 4,600 hours as a Marine Corps C-130 Hercules pilot before retiring as a major a year ago.

"Out of 11 people onboard, only two could do anything about it, and one of them had to let go," Neblett said.

Behind the pilots, flight engineer Wray Emrich had flown out of his seat and slammed off the ceiling of the cockpit; he later found wounds in his scalp that conformed to the arrangement of switches over his head. He managed to grab hold of his seatbelt and drag himself back down, then held on with all his strength during the violent ride, like a rodeo cowboy trying to stay on a bucking bull. Flight test engineer Ray Bacorn and navigator Craig Homer were hanging on as best they could, while everything that wasn't nailed down became airborne.

"The only thing that didn't move," Neblett said, "was our instrument panel."

Throughout the airframe, the noise was tremendous.

In the cockpit, everyone was shouting to be heard, Sanders said; his intercom switch was on the control yoke, which he could not risk grabbing.

Other occupants reported hearing the airframe groan under the strain of all the G-forces.

The most ominous sound for Emrich was the howling of the engines, though; the incredible onset of airspeed had caused the props themselves to over-speed, reaching 106 percent of their correct RPM. Flameouts were very real and deadly possibilities. But the engines held, a fact that Sanders attributes in part to the excellent responsiveness of the new Electronic Propeller Control System that was installed on the plane for testing.

In the C-130, engine speed and propeller speed are supposed to stay constant throughout flight; the actual velocity of the aircraft is controlled by changing the pitch angle of the propeller blades. The EPCS replaces the old hydraulic and mechanical system that controls propeller pitch, instead using electronic sensors and actuators that should be more reliable and respond rapidly to inputs and changes. No one, however, had ever anticipated validating the new system's performance under such dire circumstances.

As the altitude wound away, Neblett managed to get the wings level for a moment, long enough for a glimmer of hope. Then, with the life raft still attached to the left half of the tail, the KC-130T went inverted again.

"I remember thinking, 'We're never going to come out of this," recalled Emrich.

"Twenty-two years flying in the Navy," thought Hartkemeyer, "and not even a year here at VX-20, and this is it."

Still, no one gave up. Neblett continued his work at the controls, applying the best of his test piloting expertise to regain control of the stricken tanker. At some point the raging airflow over the outside of the fuselage was enough to tear almost all of the life raft free. Neblett worked with Sanders, who had the benefit of a functional Attitude Direction Indicator, and somehow managed to get the wings level again. He pulled back on the yoke, and slowly the plane came out of its speeding dive.

When he leveled off, the altimeter read 15,000 feet. The entire episode had lasted less than half a minute, during which the aircraft's maximum rate of descent reached 29,000 feet per minute.

And still no one knew exactly what had happened or why, which meant no one knew if it was going to happen again.

Hartkemeyer tried to come up on the intercom, but her cord had been ripped apart at the connector.

"When everything stopped," said Emrich, "I couldn't hear anyone in the back. I needed to know the condition of the airplane and personnel, and no one answered."

Miraculously, though, none of the injuries were life-threatening. Despite having taken a terrible beating, Hartkemeyer assumed control of her part of the plane.

Neblett and Sanders concentrated on flying the aircraft and getting pointed toward the nearest airport, which actually involved turning the plane around. Focused on the task at hand on the flight deck, Sanders told Emrich, "I do not want to know if there's no plane behind us."

Sanders radioed the authorities at Tri-State Airport in Huntington, W. Va., to say that he had wounded aboard and would be making an emergency landing.

Later, Neblett would praise crew resource management - the right combination of good communication, situational awareness and sharing of the workload - for getting them all through the crisis. Landing checklists were lost somewhere in the wild snowdrifts of paper all over the floor of the cockpit, but procedures were nonetheless executed correctly.

A short time later, Neblett made an uneventful landing, taxied off the runway and shut down the aircraft.

"Once we hit the ground and cleared the aircraft you begin to come apart," said Emrich.

The day's work was far from over. In the aftermath of the mishap, various Navy and Marine Corps commands had to be contacted, the aircraft had to be secured for investigators, and the local and national media needed to be dealt with. Above all the crew and passengers - whose injuries included broken fingers and a variety of contusions and lacerations - needed medical care and lodging.

Neblett and the rest of the shaken survivors received a generous helping of West Virginia hospitality, particularly from airport officials and the local National Guard and Air National Guard.

It has been almost half a year since the incident, and today the same crew is flying the same KC-130T, which has been repaired and recertified, on test flights for VX-20. The mishap has become a learning opportunity, briefed to other aviators and maintainers, as well as a permanent piece of C-130 folklore. Neblett received his Air Medal in late August, for somehow writing a happy ending on a story that easily could have concluded with a memorial service.

"His aeronautical instinct, aggressiveness, and level head led to the remarkable recovery of a non-aerobatic aircraft from uncontrolled flight while sustaining absolutely minimum damage," his award citation reads. "Maj. Neblett's superb airmanship, decisive decision-making, perseverance, and loyal devotion to duty in the face of hazardous flying conditions reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.


1) I had never heard that story before, thank you for sharing.
2) Fuck everything about that
3) Glad they fought through it and landed safely
4) In all seriousness Is it so bad to have inflatables in the cargo area? I mean when we take them along in our hawks they just get strapped on the floor against the back wall, now, obviously they arent 20 man life rafts either, but, damn. 130's have a fair bit of room in them...
5) Seriously fuck everything about a life raft killing you
Link Posted: 11/13/2012 3:34:47 AM EST



1) I had never heard that story before, thank you for sharing.
2) Fuck everything about that
3) Glad they fought through it and landed safely
4) In all seriousness Is it so bad to have inflatables in the cargo area? I mean when we take them along in our hawks they just get strapped on the floor against the back wall, now, obviously they arent 20 man life rafts either, but, damn. 130's have a fair bit of room in them...
5) Seriously fuck everything about a life raft killing you
The life rafts are stowed in the wings, outside, that is how it ended up wrapped around the tail surfaces

Link Posted: 11/13/2012 4:01:20 AM EST
Originally Posted By wwace:



1) I had never heard that story before, thank you for sharing.
2) Fuck everything about that
3) Glad they fought through it and landed safely
4) In all seriousness Is it so bad to have inflatables in the cargo area? I mean when we take them along in our hawks they just get strapped on the floor against the back wall, now, obviously they arent 20 man life rafts either, but, damn. 130's have a fair bit of room in them...
5) Seriously fuck everything about a life raft killing you
The life rafts are stowed in the wings, outside, that is how it ended up wrapped around the tail surfaces



Yes that was very clear in the article, the point of what I was saying was "Hey would it be so bad to put those fuckers on the inside of the plane so this stops happening, you know since it's happened 7 times now"
Link Posted: 11/13/2012 4:22:08 AM EST
Back in the 70s when I wa in SAC the Bufs lost lots of parts on takeoff. MITO scrambles were allways fun to watch as the parts accumulate on the runway.
Link Posted: 11/13/2012 4:27:28 AM EST
Originally Posted By ARAMP1:
I'd say it gives new meaning to a "no-flap landing".


Steve and I saw the BUFF and the -38 flying by (coming up initial; but they just carried through) at one point that day. The BUFF was going damn slow, surprised the -38 could hang like that. I heard one of the flaps fell off by Draper.

And there were a lot of big wigs on the ramp when the BUFF landed.
Link Posted: 11/13/2012 6:44:36 AM EST
There's plenty of flying jobs I'd do for free. There's other ones you couldn't pay me enough money to do.

FCF pilot at a depot is in the second category.
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 4:17:07 PM EST
Originally Posted By JustinOK34:
Originally Posted By ARAMP1:
I'd say it gives new meaning to a "no-flap landing".


Steve and I saw the BUFF and the -38 flying by (coming up initial; but they just carried through) at one point that day. The BUFF was going damn slow, surprised the -38 could hang like that. I heard one of the flaps fell off by Draper.

And there were a lot of big wigs on the ramp when the BUFF landed.

I was wondering if anyone of you guys were in the pattern at the time. Hell I just missed it by a few days since I did approaches there.
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 4:43:06 PM EST
Originally Posted By H60ADriver:
Originally Posted By wwace:



1) I had never heard that story before, thank you for sharing.
2) Fuck everything about that
3) Glad they fought through it and landed safely
4) In all seriousness Is it so bad to have inflatables in the cargo area? I mean when we take them along in our hawks they just get strapped on the floor against the back wall, now, obviously they arent 20 man life rafts either, but, damn. 130's have a fair bit of room in them...
5) Seriously fuck everything about a life raft killing you
The life rafts are stowed in the wings, outside, that is how it ended up wrapped around the tail surfaces



Yes that was very clear in the article, the point of what I was saying was "Hey would it be so bad to put those fuckers on the inside of the plane so this stops happening, you know since it's happened 7 times now"


The life rafts are for forced water landings. Kinda hard to deploy them from inside a submerged fuselage.

Link Posted: 11/14/2012 5:17:40 PM EST
Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
There's plenty of flying jobs I'd do for free. There's other ones you couldn't pay me enough money to do.

FCF pilot at a depot is in the second category.


I did enough of it to not enjoy it.

We nearly lost a Beechjet and a Hawker during post-maintenance test flights.
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 5:26:35 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 6:59:39 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/14/2012 7:00:06 PM EST by Frank_The_Tank]
At least they won't continue flying multiple legs with parts missing like those avantair pilots.
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 7:03:27 PM EST
Originally Posted By CFII:
Hell we have Maintenence Test Pilots in our troop. Two of them. Its a hairy job


Yeah.

The Hawker had the leading edge installed upside down, and departed during an approach to stall at Vref+20 and rolled 130 degrees.

The Beechjet, IIRC, had some kind of T/R issue at rotation.
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 7:03:52 PM EST
Originally Posted By Frank_The_Tank:
At least they won't continue flying multiple legs with parts missing like those avantair pilots.



I heard a reference to that...what gives?
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 8:50:33 PM EST
From what I heard, at least secondhand info.

Avantair piaggio departs somewhere. Crew felt a vibration in flight controls. They land wherever, continue to fly at least one more leg, possibly two. Eventually someone at some airport noticed part of the elevator missing. I assume majormshitstorm occurs, company self discloses, aircraft are grounded. That is all I know.
Link Posted: 11/14/2012 9:23:07 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/14/2012 9:51:35 PM EST by flyguync]
I remember from my active duty days when I had the chance to do my monthly maintenance fly-alongs, I was always extremely nervous flying on a BUFF on the 1st flight out of a phased inspection They tore them down pretty thoroughly during phase, so you just hope they got everything put back together the right way. B52 flaps are held on by a relatively flimsy looking jackscrew apparatus, so it's surprising this doesn't happen more often.
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 12:41:09 PM EST
I used to do FCF stuff years ago. Picking up aircraft from depot was often interesting.

One of the funny ones was when the guys tried to cover a dinged up wing (damage they inflicted) with some sort of "Bondo" typed compound. It doesn't stay on at 500 kts across the ground.
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 1:55:29 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/15/2012 1:57:29 PM EST by TYCOM]
Originally Posted By Rick-OShay:
Originally Posted By H60ADriver:
Originally Posted By wwace:



1) I had never heard that story before, thank you for sharing.
2) Fuck everything about that
3) Glad they fought through it and landed safely
4) In all seriousness Is it so bad to have inflatables in the cargo area? I mean when we take them along in our hawks they just get strapped on the floor against the back wall, now, obviously they arent 20 man life rafts either, but, damn. 130's have a fair bit of room in them...
5) Seriously fuck everything about a life raft killing you
The life rafts are stowed in the wings, outside, that is how it ended up wrapped around the tail surfaces



Yes that was very clear in the article, the point of what I was saying was "Hey would it be so bad to put those fuckers on the inside of the plane so this stops happening, you know since it's happened 7 times now"


The life rafts are for forced water landings. Kinda hard to deploy them from inside a submerged fuselage.



I researched the liferaft issue back when this happened - the KC-130T in the article was my aircraft since I'm the C-130 Reserve TYCOM. I found out that the J model C-130s used a different raft which was sealed in a storage case vice the open rafts in the legacy models. We did an emergency buy and now all C-130Ts and KC-130Ts have the J model rafts.
Ironically we did not get money to convert the C/KC-130T fleet to the EPCS back in 2008 even though it saved this aircraft. We restarted the EPCS mods six months ago after some cost analysis showed the new parts would be cheaper to maintain for the next 20 years.

TYCOM
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 1:58:25 PM EST
I thought the other shift installed those flap stops?
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 2:18:05 PM EST
Originally Posted By Chairborne:
I thought the other shift installed those flap stops?


That is one of the biggest issues with phase maintenance. We fixed it by diving up the sections between day shift and night shift. Day shift did not touch what we were doing, and we did not touch what they were doing. Period. Saved a lot of hassle on the back end as there was none of the usual "nobody signed off this work...fuck! re-do it!"
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 6:52:33 PM EST
Is the depot maintainers Air Force or civilians? We maintain C-40's at Delta for the Air Force and Navy and even some C-32's last year. I've worked many aircraft and the only thing that comes to mind when this happens is inexperience on both the mechanics part and QA.
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 7:05:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By cda97:
Is the depot maintainers Air Force or civilians? We maintain C-40's at Delta for the Air Force and Navy and even some C-32's last year. I've worked many aircraft and the only thing that comes to mind when this happens is inexperience on both the mechanics part and QA.


As I understand it's mostly civilian. There are some military level depot guys to do field work (we flew some of them with us to Guam to fix a jet there last year).
Link Posted: 11/15/2012 7:12:59 PM EST
Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
Originally Posted By cda97:
Is the depot maintainers Air Force or civilians? We maintain C-40's at Delta for the Air Force and Navy and even some C-32's last year. I've worked many aircraft and the only thing that comes to mind when this happens is inexperience on both the mechanics part and QA.


As I understand it's mostly civilian. There are some military level depot guys to do field work (we flew some of them with us to Guam to fix a jet there last year).


It was civilian for Boeing products back in the 90's. Don't know about now.
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 5:43:56 PM EST
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 6:33:55 PM EST
Re: The Herc story: Ho...lleeeee....FFFUUUUUCCCCCKKKKKK. Do not want.
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 6:46:26 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/17/2012 6:46:43 PM EST by LaRue_Tactical]
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 7:46:01 PM EST
[Last Edit: 11/17/2012 7:48:13 PM EST by twentyfourseven]
C-130 spin recovery


The pilot pictured was the XO of the Marine training group at NAS Corpus Christi when I was going through flight school. I had always heard that he some how saved a C-130 in a spin caused by a life raft. He always came across as the sort of dude you should have been striving to be like. Insanely smart. Nice to finally hear the story.
Link Posted: 11/17/2012 7:54:24 PM EST
Originally Posted By TYCOM:
Originally Posted By Rick-OShay:
Originally Posted By H60ADriver:
Originally Posted By wwace:



1) I had never heard that story before, thank you for sharing.
2) Fuck everything about that
3) Glad they fought through it and landed safely
4) In all seriousness Is it so bad to have inflatables in the cargo area? I mean when we take them along in our hawks they just get strapped on the floor against the back wall, now, obviously they arent 20 man life rafts either, but, damn. 130's have a fair bit of room in them...
5) Seriously fuck everything about a life raft killing you
The life rafts are stowed in the wings, outside, that is how it ended up wrapped around the tail surfaces



Yes that was very clear in the article, the point of what I was saying was "Hey would it be so bad to put those fuckers on the inside of the plane so this stops happening, you know since it's happened 7 times now"


The life rafts are for forced water landings. Kinda hard to deploy them from inside a submerged fuselage.



I researched the liferaft issue back when this happened - the KC-130T in the article was my aircraft since I'm the C-130 Reserve TYCOM. I found out that the J model C-130s used a different raft which was sealed in a storage case vice the open rafts in the legacy models. We did an emergency buy and now all C-130Ts and KC-130Ts have the J model rafts.
Ironically we did not get money to convert the C/KC-130T fleet to the EPCS back in 2008 even though it saved this aircraft. We restarted the EPCS mods six months ago after some cost analysis showed the new parts would be cheaper to maintain for the next 20 years.

TYCOM


Good to know, thanks for the resonse
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 6:25:14 AM EST
3 decades ago @ Dyess I got to pull/install those 20man 'rafts to FOM. I hated 'rasslin them durn things while trying not to slide-off the trailing edge. It's about 12' to the concrete.

All Heck broke loose when We got a couple of cracked Taxi light brackets & one fell-off in flight.You would have thought an engine had fallen-off!!! The USAF is serious about dropped objects ! I can't imagine the shumozle that would of erupted from losing a 'raft in flight !!!



The Ol' Crew Chief
Link Posted: 11/19/2012 6:30:34 AM EST
"How safe are these bombers?"

"Oh, very safe, very safe. These bombers are built to very exacting standards."

"What sort of standards?"

"Well, the flaps aren't supposed to fall off, for a start!"
Link Posted: 11/20/2012 8:53:02 AM EST
Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
As I understand it's mostly civilian. There are some military level depot guys to do field work (we flew some of them with us to Guam to fix a jet there last year).


This is correct, at least circa '03 - '05 when I was stationed there.
Link Posted: 11/21/2012 2:13:25 PM EST

Originally Posted By SmilingBandit:
There's plenty of flying jobs I'd do for free. There's other ones you couldn't pay me enough money to do.

FCF pilot at a depot is in the second category.

I have a couple of acquaintances that test fly depot repaired helos. Yeah, thanks, but no thanks. I don't trust helos much on a good day.
Top Top