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Precision flying with a jumbo jet

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Zathrus, Jul 5, 2017.

  1. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    Hello all,

    We have a big fire east of me (The "Burro Fire") and since it has grown to more than 23,000 acres they have begun throwing their big gun at it. This is a modified DC-10 that carries 12000 gallons of a fire retardant slurry and during a pass it lays down a line approx. one mile in length.

    In Arizona, your typically fighting fires in or near mountains. I began seeing this DC-10 on approach vectors to this fire a couple of days ago. I have to say seeing a jumbo jet fly straight into mountains and disappear into them is amazing.

    Here is a short video of the types of passes this aircraft is making.


    This is precision flying in a jumbo jet. In many cases his ground clearance to wings or his belly is less than his wing span.
    These are a special breed of pilot who fly these firefighting aircraft.
     
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  2. Sylak

    Sylak Vindicator Member

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    You need good nerve and freaking good timing. Impressive indeed.
     
  3. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    Yes I watched a video yesterday (cant find it at the moment) that was recorded in this DC-10 during a firefighting run.
    The onboard computers were screaming at the pilots constantly with warnings as follows:

    "Terrain! Pull up! Pull up!
    "Bank angle!! Bank angle!! Terrain! Terrain PULL UP!

    these warnings were occurring constantly in the cockpit because they are flying this jumbo jet at the edge of it's "flight envelope" which includes angle of attack, bank angles that must not be exceeded, etc.

    They give the onboard safety systems designed to keep the aircraft within it's flight envelope a panic attack during every pass. It is spewiing warnings constantly.
     
  4. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    Here is another I just came across of the same aircraft that is here now.
    This video was shot last year in California. In this video you see why firefighters love this DC-10. When the fire crew commanders knew they could not stop that fire from entering that subdivision. They pulled their crews back and called in that DC-10

    For a moment... the people at the camera are extremely concerned... since they have seen fire crews pull back... and flames advance toward their homes.... Then.... they saw why the fire crews had pulled back. This pass by the DC-10 stopped that fire right there next to the subdivision.
     
  5. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    you have to admit... these pilots fly this jumbo jet more like an A-10 combat support mission..... very impressive indeed.
     
  6. psycho

    psycho Vindicator Member
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    As a pilot myself I whole heatedly agree: it takes a huge sack to fly a plane that big that low. Huge respect for the guys that do this sort of work.

    On a cool note: in the 2nd video during the stills at the end you can see one of my company's old Bae 146 aircraft (smaller 4 engine jet) that converted to firefighting service over 10 years ago.
     
  7. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    very cool. and yes precision flying takes complete confidence in your abilities and the aircraft.
    According to an interview I saw of one of these DC-10 pilots, it is a very maneuverable jumbo jet.

    I am guessing at 165 feet of wingspan.... the DC-10 is probably the largest wingspan you would want to try and fly into canyons.
    I rarely see anyone using Evergreens 747 around here because that thing has a wingspan of 196 feet.
     
  8. Sylak

    Sylak Vindicator Member

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    It's weird to me to see normal airplane used to do that, here we use Cl 415 ( replacing the older 215) which are dedicated forest fire fighting plane. I've ssen them fighting forest fire in my region often so it,s alwasy those Cl plane, to me they are associted with forest fire, so seeing normal plane is out of place to my mind. Man those pilot are goods. Bombardier stop making them in 2015 it seem. I don't why they are hugely successful and popular and unique as dedicated airplane for that. Our firefighters forces are often called to go help in the US or elsewhere in canada.
     
  9. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    Yes it gets your attention immediately when you see what one would normally consider an "passenger airliner" suddenly diving into mountain canyons. This is what got me looking... I saw the DC-10 in the video's above come in over me and fly right into and disappear into the Catalina mountains.... it is... striking since your mind wants to insist you just saw a crash.

    I have a good friend who is a Boeing 747 Captain and has been for about... 30 years or so.
    He flies air cargo for "Kallita Air". He is one of the first pilots Conrad "Connie" Kallita (a mulit year champion top fuel drag racing team owner/driver) hired when he started his air cargo company. He has been flying for him since.

    My friend says the DC-10 is one of the most maneuverable jumbo jets in the air saying; "The DC-10 is a beast of an airplane, It’s flying nap of the earth, performing aerobatic maneuvers, and pulling high Gs like a much smaller, much more nimble combat jet fighter. It’s almost unbelievable. In 2007, the first DC-10 fire fighter hit trees and caused some minor damage to the wing but returned home safely."

    But do not rule out the mighty Boeing 747 for firefighting. A new company has been formed using the Boeing 747-400 super tanker. They got their license to start fire fighting in 2016. They currently have one 747-400 and it has been firefighting all over the world. They are getting ready to add a second Boeing 747-400.

    I have to say... the pilots of a 747-400 willing to fly it into canyons in mountains.... wow. That is an enormous aircraft, it has a wingspan of 211 feet on a fuselage that is 63 feet tall, 231 feet long!!! your flying a large building through the mountains...... But apparently this 747-400 had excellent results in Chile in 2016 which is of course... full of mountain ranges.
    [​IMG]
    This is their firefighter in Chile last year being refilled with water/ fuel, etc.

    I have an aircraft mechanics license and I flew a bit while I was in school. I have HUGE respect for pilots able to use such an aircraft in the manner they do. Using a jumbo jet for close ground support is... amazing in my mind... one miscalculation... your going to hit something... hopefully hitting it does not bring you down.

    The DC-10 has proven it can take the tops out of trees with its wings and still fly home with only minor sheet metal damage. :D
     
    #9 Zathrus, Jul 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  10. MyrmidonMike

    MyrmidonMike New Member

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    Oh hey look, the Sand Fire. That's literally ~20 miles from my house. There was another fire a week or so before this one called the Sage Fire. Used a DC-10 again. Here are some videos that popped up during the fire... The last one is pretty insane.







     
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  11. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    geez... even in the first video right at the end of the drop, he is banking and pulling up to miss that hilltop... he comes within approx. 100 feet of that hilltop... close. But if they have executed their maneuver successfully... it is of course of no concern since the aircraft while close is moving away from the hilltop. Their problems begin if they wait too long to initiate power and change in direction, altitude, etc.

    This is why I have so much respect for these guys. Yes many times they more than 100 feet from any potential obstacle, but when your wingspan is 165 feet..... that is a near miss. It takes only a very slight miscalculation in the execution of their maneuvers near those obstacles to make it difficult to not hit it. Then of course there is the air turbulence that can be ferocious in mountain passes providing unexpected changes to what is needed to keep the aircraft on their correct trajectory.
     
  12. MyrmidonMike

    MyrmidonMike New Member

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    I absolutely agree. These guys have very little room for error. I think the first and fourth videos I linked are from the same pass... That's a damn near miss.

    I also found a video with a C-130 adapted for firefighting. I wonder how it performs in comparison to the DC-10.

     
  13. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    It does very well especially in mountains since the C-130 was designed and built from the ground up to be a "4x4 of the sky" so to speak.
    Long ago, as a kid during the Vietnam War I saw video of C-130's taking off from very short jungle runways (perhaps 200 meters in length)... with a tree canopy extending up 80 to 100 feet off the end.... they seemed to do this easily... although this type of flying take off and landing cycle is very hard on an airframe. For instance for take off: with brakes on, full flaps, they would go to 100% throttle on those big turboprops and wait till it started hopping down the runway.... release the brakes... a very short roll and up they go. Amazing aircraft.

    The early models had a serious problem that was discovered later. The center structure box that anchors the wing spar's to the fuselage had a hidden area (until this discovery) that could develop stress cracks over time. I think a total of three C-130's were lost until they figured the problem out.

    One of those C-130's was a firefighter. it occurred in the video below. Today, this area can be inspected regularly to prevent such a re-occurrence.
    This was a horrific accident.


    This was not a design problem with the airframe, it was a design problem that created an area that could not be inspected that absorbed a lot of stress. On aircraft all primary stress areas of the structure have inspection plates for a complete inspection. Metals fatigue and crack with repeated stress cycles over time. It is something we expect and that is why there are inspection cycles on everything. This was an area that had slipped through, that carried huge loads, but could not be accessed properly to be seen or tested.

    The result was the oldest aircraft (ie old military recycled as firefighters) were the ones that experienced the failure.

    I should add, the title is a bit misleading. This aircraft had just initiated a hard pull up from a drop (a very high load on the wing roots during this maneuver) when the failure occurred. All the witnesses reported hearing an "explosion" before the wings folded upward, then another boom and fire.

    The first "explosion" was not an explosion in the way the witnesses thought, that was the sound of that center structure finally blowing apart under the load with undetected stress cracks weakening it.
     
    #13 Zathrus, Jul 10, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2017
  14. MyrmidonMike

    MyrmidonMike New Member

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    #14 MyrmidonMike, Jul 13, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2017
  15. Zathrus

    Zathrus Vindicator Member

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    Yeah... I was sorry to see all of these fires explode. Over the last 30 days I think 5 of the 7 major fires where here in AZ... now Monsoon storms have helped bring them into control then this week...California again... dang!

    BTW... are you a helicopter pilot Mrymidonmike?
     

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