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Thread: low flying 4 engine military plane

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    low flying 4 engine military plane

    I was driving home from a meeting in northern VT today and a low flying (a few hundred feet above the tree tops) 4 engine propeller driven military plane came swooping up over the hill tops and disappeared again. I know from an article in the news that they are doing low flying Blackhawk training in these parts, could that be related. Just seems odd to see a large 4 engine prop job flying that low. I'm not aware of any airports in that area.
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    Silver Hawk Member StudeDave57's Avatar
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    Was it a C-130?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lockheed_C-130_Hercules







    Certain versions are known to work in conjunction with helos for Combat Search and Rescue (CSAR) operations as well as other 'special missions' that are best not talked about....

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    No much more slender body, perhaps like this:

    Last edited by dpson; 05-10-2018 at 04:45 AM.
    Dan Peterson
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpson View Post
    No much more slender body, perhaps like this:

    That is a P-3

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    Silver Hawk Member StudeDave57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dpson View Post
    No much more slender body, perhaps like this:
    If so, that would be very odd.

    For one, those don't tend to be low level unless they are over water.
    Hunting submarines.

    Or are converted for fire fighting.
    In which case they wear a very different paint job.



    http://www.airliners.net/photo/Aero-...star/1795824/L

    There are only eight or nine of them, and last I heard- they are all in California.
    And they are unemployed for the time being.
    It's a long story....




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    Last edited by StudeDave57; 05-10-2018 at 10:27 AM.

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    It didn't have the special fire fighter paint scheme. The area where I saw it is about 40 miles south of the US/Canadian border, so perhaps it was Homeland Security, I found this article from a 2011 Maryland newspaper which might help explain things :

    In July, NASA flew two Lockheed P-3 Orion planes over northeast Maryland in order to conduct a series of tests on the air quality in the region. They flew both high and low -- sometimes as low as 1,000 feet -- gathering more than 250 soundings from above small towns, the Chesapeake Bay, major interstates and densely populated areas. Maryland resident John Kovasckitz spotted one of the planes and captured this photograph as it headed south by southwest above the Fair Hill loop.
    A four-engine plane originally developed for the United States Navy as an anti-submarine surveillance tool in the 1960s, the P-3 Orion now has several operators. NASA uses a modified version for low-altitude heavy-lift science missions, but Aero Union also uses them as does the United States Department of Homeland Security to conduct anti-drug and border patrol duties. At 117 feet long, the P-3 is recognizable for its size, but also its distinctive tail stinger, which was designed to magnetically detect submarines.
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    A number of different science agencies, including NOAA, NASA, and the Navy itself use instrumented P-3s as oceanographic, meteorological, and/or geologic remote-sensing platforms. They go fast enough to get a lot of data, but slow enough to be able to loiter above an area of interest (especially if you shut one or two engines down). I spent several hundred hours flying in them, sometimes only at a couple of hundred feet altitude above the ocean for hours at a time. The ride is VERY bumpy at that altitude. They are reliable, forgiving, and seemingly indestructible.

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    Silver Hawk Member 53k's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Lackie View Post
    A number of different science agencies, including NOAA, NASA, and the Navy itself use instrumented P-3s as oceanographic, meteorological, and/or geologic remote-sensing platforms. They go fast enough to get a lot of data, but slow enough to be able to loiter above an area of interest (especially if you shut one or two engines down). I spent several hundred hours flying in them, sometimes only at a couple of hundred feet altitude above the ocean for hours at a time. The ride is VERY bumpy at that altitude. They are reliable, forgiving, and seemingly indestructible.
    The P-3 Orion was a pretty good deal in that it was adapted from the Lockheed Electra commercial passenger plane. I remember flying in the Electras before jets had taken over completely. The P-3 predecessor, also by Lockheed, the P2V Neptune, was also a long range maritime patrol aircraft. To test the possibility of using long-range maritime patrol aircraft, a modified P2V-1 named the "Truculent Turtle" made a record-breaking endurance flight in September 1946. The Turtle flew nonstop without refueling from Perth, Australia, to Columbus, Ohio, a distance of 11,235 miles, in 55 hours and 17 minutes, a record it held until 1962. The plan had been to land at Washington, DC, but the plane had run into unfavorable winds and bad weather over the Pacific and poor conditions over the Rocky Mountains which caused use of more fuel than planned.

    My cousin's husband was a NBC news man in DC back in the days of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He was fairly junior and got "invited" to go along on a P-3 mission tasked with flying over the Soviet ships involved in the blockade of Cuba. His flight was low level, 16 hours in duration. When he got back to DC he immediately resigned from NBC and went back to Texas. Being airsick for nearly 16 hours was enough for him to make an important career decision.

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    It's worth noting that the Lockheed Electra had a troubled start. Three civilian airliner Electras crashed in 1959 and 1960, and after that, no further Electras were sold to airlines. The first commercial jetliner, the deHavilland Comet, suffered similar crashes in the 1950s. The Electra crashes were found to be due to a problem with the engine mounts that under some conditions could cause wing failures. The existing planes were modified and there no further design-related crashes. The existing Electras continued to fly on secondary routes, like the Eastern Airlines Shuttle between New York and Washington.

    The combination of endurance, range, load capacity, good fuel economy, and four engines (and the ability to increase range by feathering one or two of them) made the Electra the ideal anti-submarine chaser for the Navy, and the US Navy (and many other navies) continued to buy them until 1990. Many of them have been in use for more than 50 years.
    Last edited by Skip Lackie; 05-14-2018 at 04:20 PM.

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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    My late brother's wife was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines for twenty years starting in the mid-'60s. She flew Electras for some time on the DC/NYC shuttle for some time before a transition to all jets. She said she loved the Electra.
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    President Member 48skyliner's Avatar
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    Tremendous progress was made during WWII in aviation, both in airframe and powerplant design. The advent of faster airplanes and in particular the jet fighters, required improved understanding of the high speed flutter problem, and airplanes, particularly wing and tail design, had to be not just stronger, but much stiffer to avoid flutter problems. However, no one was thinking in terms of 100,000 hour or even 50,000 hour service life, and so little progress was made in fatigue analysis.

    The British got a step ahead of everyone after the war with their DeHavilland Comet jet airliner, but that quickly ended with the crashes mentioned above. The cabin was pressurized to a higher pressure than the B-29 or the Constellation because it had to cruise at 35,000 feet, and of course each flight required one complete pressure cycle. The failures were associated with one of the window or door cutouts. Boeing was developing the 707, and they learned from the Comet disaster. The first 707 fuselage was immersed in a huge water tank and the structure was surrounded in water inside and out. Since water is incompressible, it was fairly easy to cycle the cabin pressure thousands of times to determine any failure points. The design features developed from this were carried over to later Boeing airplanes.

    A few years later when the Electra fleet was grounded, Boeing management decided this was not just bad for Lockheed, but for the whole airline industry, and it was my understanding that some fatigue experts were sent to Lockheed to help solve the problem. This was not publicized to my knowledge.

    One of the last things I worked on before retiring was the Navy antisubmarine plane based on the 737. My comment at the time was that it was good the Navy is replacing that obsolete 50 year old turboprop plane with a nice modern 40 year old jet.
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    President Member Gunslinger's Avatar
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    The major problem with the Comet was the windows had square corners and not rounded. Too many pressurization cycles and too much vibration created fatigue cracks from the sharp corners of the windows which ultimately created catastrophic failures. It proved the end of the Comet. This is why windows on aircraft have rounded corners as it's much more resistant to fatigue cracking.
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    Quote Originally Posted by 48skyliner View Post
    One of the last things I worked on before retiring was the Navy antisubmarine plane based on the 737. My comment at the time was that it was good the Navy is replacing that obsolete 50 year old turboprop plane with a nice modern 40 year old jet.
    An interesting thought. As I noted in a post above, endurance is an important consideration in choosing an anti-submarine aircraft; speed is not. After all, subs only travel at 10 or 12 knots. The ability to loiter around an area of interest for many hours without burning a lot of fuel is an advantage. It was an attribute that the Electra and the Canadair (piston) CP-107 Argus (which could easily stay airborne for 24 hours and even carried two full crews) possessed. It would seem to be an area that would be a problem for the 737.

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    President Member 63 R2 Hawk's Avatar
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    I used to live in the CA Bay Area near Moffett NAS where it seemed like there were P3s in the air constantly lumbering around, doing touch and go landings. I always thought they were kinda like Dumbo, big awkward and clumsy until they featured one at the yearly Moffett airshow. I was truly amazed at how powerful and agile the P3 was, even on two engines! I can see why they used them for sub chasers and fire fighting.

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    President Member j.byrd's Avatar
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    There are at least 2 of the P-3s over here. They do LOTS of touch and go's at the Kona International Airport.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 63 R2 Hawk View Post
    I used to live in the CA Bay Area near Moffett NAS where it seemed like there were P3s in the air constantly lumbering around, doing touch and go landings. I always thought they were kinda like Dumbo, big awkward and clumsy until they featured one at the yearly Moffett airshow. I was truly amazed at how powerful and agile the P3 was, even on two engines! I can see why they used them for sub chasers and fire fighting.
    During the Cold War, Moffett Field was the HQ for the Pacific Navy Patrol Squadrons. I think there were 50-60 P3s based there; used to rotate out to Hawaii, Japan, and Adak. New crew members were coming in all the time, and one whole squadron was dedicated to training -- that meant a lot of touches and goes. The base was turned over (mostly) to NASA as part of a base closure mandate in 1994.
    Last edited by Skip Lackie; 05-15-2018 at 04:08 PM. Reason: typo

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    Silver Hawk Member StudeDave57's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Lackie View Post
    It would seem to be an area that would be a problem for the 737.
    From what I am hearing-- the P-8 has no issue in either of those areas.
    It's speed is actually something the NAVY is happy with, since it can get on station much faster.
    Once there it can do what it needs to do just as well as a P-3.
    As for endurance, the P-8 is more than adequate.
    And- if need be-- it can be refueled in flight.


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_P-8_Poseidon

    Quote Originally Posted by Skip Lackie View Post
    During the Cold War, Moffett Field was the HQ for the Pacific Navy Patrol Squadrons.
    I think there were 50-60 P3s based there; used to rotate out to Hawaii, Japan, and Adak.
    At one time- way back when- there were actually TWO training squadrons.
    VP-31 was at Moffett, and VP-30 was on the East- at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.
    Only VP-30 remains.
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