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Topic: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: flyingturtle
Posted 2012-10-04 05:26:35 and read 10694 times.

Hello fellow a.netters,



when I roam around in foreign places using Google maps, I often visit airbases. The variety of stuff you can see on Eglin AFB is amazing, and then, I've always wondered about these parking areas on air force bases:



Geilenkirchen AFB, Germany



Belfort-Fontaine base (BOR), France


These also exist for B-52, like here on Minot AFB http://maps.google.com/maps?q=minot+...t+AFB,+Ward,+North+Dakota&t=h&z=15 and Barksdale AFB http://maps.google.com/maps?q=barksd...+City,+Bossier,+Louisiana&t=h&z=17


What are they used for?

I suppose they aren't used for long-term parking of fighters. They're always connected by taxiways to either end of the runway, and these parking places are spaced apart so that the destruction of one fighter won't do much damage to the another ones, should an attack on the airbase happen.

These parking stands rarely have a shed to put an aircraft under.


I believe I've answered it myself - Quick Reaction Alert missions - but this kind of aircraft parking gets rarer and rarer, methinks. Does somebody have some background on how air force bases are planned and constructed?



Regards,

David

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: STT757
Posted 2012-10-04 05:41:25 and read 10694 times.

Dispersion of aircraft, to protect them from attack or accidental munitions detonation. If you have a heavily laden B-52 have an accidental detonation of ordnance on the ramp while lined up with other aircraft it can take them all out. By dispersing aircraft, especially armed aircraft, you minimize your potential loss to that specific aircraft. Which is why you see these type of dispersals at bases that have historically hosted fighters, bombers and attack aircraft and not at bases that have historically hosted airlift.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: flyingturtle
Posted 2012-10-04 05:56:29 and read 10673 times.

OK, then I've already thought along the right line...  


Thank you,


David

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-04 08:04:47 and read 10615 times.

For the Barksdale and Minot images these are/were alert parking areas. During the cold war bombers and tankers configured for nuclear strike were on 24-hour alert ready for launch in under 15 minutes. They were all parked together adjacent to the crew living facility. This allowed for ready access and common security. The shape of the parking area gave rise to its nickname of "Christmas tree." They were located at the end of the runway used most often under prevailing wind conditions.

Aside from the QRA function you mentioned, dispersing the fighters not only had the added advantage of prevent fratricide should one blow up for some reason, but was the primary goal in preventing an attack from destroying multiple planes. One well-placed bomb or missile could eliminate a ramp-full of fighters if they were clustered together to prevent saboteur attacks (as happened in Hawai'i in 1941) but spreading out the hardstands means, effectively, one hit required for each airplane target, and more difficult proposition for any attacker.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: flyingturtle
Posted 2012-10-04 09:13:57 and read 10543 times.

Quoting STT757 (Reply 1):
If you have a heavily laden B-52 have an accidental detonation of ordnance on the ramp while lined up with other aircraft it can take them all out.

Then I will have a look where the ordnance is stored on these airfields and...

Quoting rc135x (Reply 3):
They were all parked together adjacent to the crew living facility. This allowed for ready access and common security.

....where the crew facilities are located, if the latter are still standing nowadays.


I'm fond of "Dr. Strangelove"  and I've also seen a film of the same era, shoing a B-52 squadron, QRA mission drills, and a defection to the Soviet Union (if I am not mistaken). That said, I'm interested in Cold War USAF history.


David

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-04 11:39:29 and read 10448 times.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 4):
I'm fond of "Dr. Strangelove"  and I've also seen a film of the same era, shoing a B-52 squadron, QRA mission drills, and a defection to the Soviet Union (if I am not mistaken). That said, I'm interested in Cold War USAF history.

Perhaps the best film of this era is "A Gathering of Eagles" starring Rock Hudson, which was filmed at Beale AFB, California, using B-52Gs. Scenes from the MITO takeoff used in this movie are widely available on YouTube and elsewhere on the web. [As a way of saying thank you for being allowed to use the base, the studio paid for a swimming pool for the alert facility crews. I spent many hours in that pool while my dad was on alert there, with the added advantage of getting to watch the occasional alert start and seeing the SR-71s landing just a couple of hundred feet away. Eventually the Air Force filled the pool with concrete to avoid liability issues.]

For an earlier period, you can't beat "Strategic Air Command" starring Jimmy Stewart. The aerial footage is spectacular with B-36s and B-47s.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 4):
....where the crew facilities are located, if the latter are still standing nowadays.

The "alert shack" is still standing in both of the references you provide, and is clearly visible at the "throat" of the Christmas tree. I was at Barksdale AFB this past July and believe the alert facility is in use in some other capacity now.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rfields5421
Posted 2012-10-04 13:49:45 and read 10383 times.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 3):
For the Barksdale and Minot images these are/were alert parking areas.
Quoting rc135x (Reply 5):
I was at Barksdale AFB this past July and believe the alert facility is in use in some other capacity now.

I was at Barksdale yesterday (Oct 3, 2012). I grew up 45 miles north of the base, and have been a frequent visitor for the past 50+ years, except for when I was overseas serving in the US Navy.

Yesterday there were two B-52 and one KC-10 parked in the alert area.

As mentioned above - the US no longer maintains active alert aircraft and crews like back in the 60s and even the 70s and early 80s.

However, I have been told by some recent USAF retiree's that both Minot and Barksdale stage training missions from the alert facility, and still practice alert procedures. The ability to get from the alert facility into the aircraft and off the ground in just a few minutes.

I once saw a B-52 'flush' from Carswell in the 80s, where they launched the entire wing in about 15 minutes - it was over 30 aircraft. Very impressive.

During an air show at Barksdale back in the early 60s, I don't remember the exact year, one of the demonstrations was a B-58 alert launch from the alert facility. Very, very, very impressive to a kid about 10 years old.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: ZANL188
Posted 2012-10-04 16:25:12 and read 10292 times.

In some cases the alert areas have been "disconnected" from the main runway complex. I suspect it was done for treaty reasons. It appears the runway was also narrowed considerably.

Grand Forks AFB 2003

Courtesy: Google


Grand Forks AFB 2011
Courtesy: Google


Also even the bases that house transports have parking areas for aircraft loaded with munitions.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: flyingturtle
Posted 2012-10-05 00:17:09 and read 10140 times.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 5):

Thank you for your narration, mate.  

It makes me want to see these movies (again), also because of the 1950ies/1960ies atmosphere evident in the filmmaking.

And I'll do some more Google Earth espionage in and around your airbases. 
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
I once saw a B-52 'flush' from Carswell in the 80s, where they launched the entire wing in about 15 minutes - it was over 30 aircraft. Very impressive.

Is the wake turbulence a danger in such mass starts? Or is getting up in the air more important than safety?

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 6):
During an air show at Barksdale back in the early 60s, I don't remember the exact year, one of the demonstrations was a B-58 alert launch from the alert facility. Very, very, very impressive to a kid about 10 years old.

I envy you.  

I should have visited one of the pre-Ramstein air shows in Germany... but then, I was born too late, in 1981. The most impressive things we get at the local airshow (410 meters x 30 meters, grass airstrip) are the F/A-18C and Sukhoi 27 treatments for hearing impairments, and 757 and Super Constellation flybyes.

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 7):

Hmmm... there is also aerial imagery from the 1950ies and 1960ies?   

I already like to visit Ft. Rucker and Eglin AFB on Google Maps to look for all the stuff there... five or six short parallel runways, makeshift runways in the middle of the forest, shooting ranges, whatever...



David

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rfields5421
Posted 2012-10-05 04:15:09 and read 10081 times.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 8):
Is the wake turbulence a danger in such mass starts? Or is getting up in the air more important than safety?

I've never heard of any issues with the B-52 and wake turbulence. The point of the exercise is to get in the air. The exercise was based on a no-notice detection of a missile launch against the US, and the need to get all the aircraft in the air before the first nuke detonated over the base.

The B-52 is a big plane, but not HUGE. It is a bit smaller and lighter than a B777 or A330. Its eight (8) engines only produce 17,000 lb of thrust each - 136,000 lbs total. The GE CF6-80E1 for the A330 produce 72,000 lbs thrust each - or 144,000 lbs of thrust.

Normal B-52 takeoffs and alert takeoffs are not at MTOW. The plane takes off planning to tank to a full fuel load.

I've seen plenty of MTOW takeoffs - from Andersen on Guam back in 1972. Those BUFFs were loaded to maximum capacity of bombs, and needed to tank before they reached cruise altitude. They took a lot of runway to takeoff, and stayed in ground effect to build speed for the entire runway length. They would not start to climb until they had cleared the northeast edge of the base.

On alert takeoffs, the plane is usually off the runway in 6,000-6,500 ft and begins to climb quickly.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-05 06:10:10 and read 10042 times.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 8):
Is the wake turbulence a danger in such mass starts? Or is getting up in the air more important than safety?

Wake turbulence is a real factor in a MITO. If you watch the video of the MITO from "Gathering of Eagles" you can see where one of the actors watching the MITO from the end of the runway sticks out his arms and "waggles" them in imitation of two of the B-52s which are caught in the wake turbulence of the airplane ahead of it (at 59 seconds and at 1:10 seconds).

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq6Hpxyrhyo

Max gross takeoff weight for an Emergency War Order (EWO) configured B-52G was 488,000 lbs. Some 12-15 seconds behind the airplane ahead of you, with 8 engines (10 if it is carrying 2 AGM-28 HOUND DOG missiles) at takeoff rated thrust (TRT) probably with water injection and you will have a LOT of smoke obscuring the view ahead, which means you may well end up in the wake turbulence of the airplane ahead of you (remember that wake turbulence is caused by the lift generated by the wing, not by engine thrust). While still in ground effect the B-52 was extremely vulnerable to wake turbulence. As a technique, crews were taught that each airplane in the MITO ideally should become airborne in slightly less runway than the airplane ahead of it to mitigate the wake turbulence effect. The worst place to be in a MITO was "tail-end Charlie" because you couldn't see ahead of you, had the least amount of runway available, and got the maximum wake turbulence.

MITO effects were common for any heavy airplane performing the procedure. I did multiple MITO takeoffs in the KC-135A and KC-135R and you really felt the wake turbulence of the airplane ahead of you. The E-4B occasionally sat alert with us and there was a special warning to use caution for its wake turbulence. It had alert launch priority, but if you got behind it you still had to stick to the 12-15 second timing window. That could be a nightmare if you were not prepared.

Once airborne, planes on EWO missions would immediately fan out and fly a specified heading to avoid other traffic (again, this is shown in the MITO scene from "Gathering of Eagles"). This was important as crews had to install thermal curtains in the windows right after takeoff to prevent flash blindness from expected atomic blasts en route. Other than air refueling (for the bomber) the entire EWO mission was to be flown with the thermal curtains in place.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-05 10:32:08 and read 9945 times.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
Normal B-52 takeoffs and alert takeoffs are not at MTOW.

It is worth clarifying the definition of "alert" takeoff.

Aircraft on SIOP* nuclear alert---those that sat in the Christmas trees around which this thread is based---were configured at maximum gross weight including fuel, EWO gear, and (for bombers) nuclear weapons and defenses. There was no peacetime plan to launch a SIOP-configured aircraft as the takeoff was considered a high-risk proposition, especially if an engine was lost or at high temperature and pressure altitude. Under emergency conditions, a few SIOP KC-135 tankers have been launched to provide fuel for an aircraft in distress, but only if there are no other tankers within the vicinity either airborne or capable of timely launch. A Blytheville AFB KC-135A, for example, launched at maximum gross takeoff weight from SIOP alert to refuel an EC-135 that was reverse refueling a KC-135 with a landing gear problem, and the alert crew received the Air Medal for their flight, notably the takeoff.

"Strip alert" tankers were configured with high (not maximum) gross takeoff weights and were intended only to refuel non-SIOP aircraft under emergency conditions. They were often located at tanker task force bases (such as RAF Mildenhall or Eielson AFB) or in support of higher-headquarters directed missions (such as reconnaissance or fighter drags).

Because they were loaded with nuclear weapons, SIOP bombers did not launch from alert. During Operational Readiness Inspections (ORIs) or other evaluations, the weapons were removed and fuel loads reduced for planned launches from the alert facility. CHROME DOME and other missions which did carry nuclear weapons did not takeoff in EWO configuration (e.g., max gross weight) to reduce risk of accident involving the weapon.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
On alert takeoffs, the plane is usually off the runway in 6,000-6,500 ft and begins to climb quickly.

This was not true under most SIOP/EWO alert conditions. SAC runways were usually 8,000-10,000 feet long, and under most temperature and pressure altitude conditions the planned takeoff roll was often within 1,000 feet of (or very nearly equal to) critical field length, which meant that if a plane lost an engine after a certain point in the takeoff roll it could safely stop in the runway remaining. Under some EWO weather conditions, takeoff would be in the realm where after an engine loss the airplane could neither stop nor become airborne in the remaining runway (including the overrun) which meant a major accident. EWO alert takeoff rolls tended to be 8,000-9,000 feet.

Climbing was also a slow proposition. In the KC-135 takeoff profiles (T/O Max mode) allowed for a very small height gain to clear airfield obstacles (say 300-500 feet above ground level) then the airplane would fly for a minute to several minutes in a relatively level attitude to accelerate to climb speed. Without this time to accelerate, the airplane could (especially if it lost an engine) enter a flight regime where it could neither climb nor accelerate.

* --- SIOP - Single Integrated Operations Plan, the name for the U.S.-led nuclear strike plan.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rfields5421
Posted 2012-10-06 08:39:14 and read 9635 times.

I forgot how much things changed after Palomares and Thule.

[Edited 2012-10-06 08:41:07]

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: Viscount724
Posted 2012-10-07 16:49:58 and read 9300 times.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
On alert takeoffs, the plane is usually off the runway in 6,000-6,500 ft and begins to climb quickly.

You've probably seen this 2009 video from Minot AFB.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ7niLYSVFo

Looks like they lift off at about the mid-point on the 13,200 ft. runway.
http://goo.gl/maps/IMKdU

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-07 16:57:27 and read 9294 times.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 13):
Looks like they lift off at about the mid-point on the 13,200 ft. runway.
http://goo.gl/maps/IMKdU

As I indicated previously these [the Minot airplanes] are not configured at maximum EWO load and takeoff weight, so using less runway is not unexpected. There were not alert aircraft. At 488k MGW and STD the average takeoff roll is about 9,000 feet for a B-52.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: moose135
Posted 2012-10-08 09:05:37 and read 9120 times.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 11):

Wow, this thread brings back a lot of memories! I don't remember hearing that Blytheville alert tanker story before, that's good stuff there.

The heaviest I remember launching in an A-model was out of Pease, we were headed to RAF Mildenhall, and joined up with a KC-10 to drag a gaggle of F-4s to Europe. I think the fuel load was around 165K, making take off weight somewhere around 275K. No rolling takeoff that day - we lined up, pushed up the power, started the water, and hoped for the best. We had 11,300 feet of runway, and I think we rotated at the 2K remaining marker, and lifted off at the 1K marker. I don't think (well, I know...) that I wouldn't have wanted to try that with a full EWO fuel load, as number 8 in a MITO after the horn went off.

Speaking of memories - I recently moved to CLT, and I've been working on getting my life out of boxes. I came across my old log book, and spent an evening going through the entries from my tanker days. And I came across my copy of this really great book that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the KC-135, written by an old squadron mate. 

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rwy04lga
Posted 2012-10-13 05:54:35 and read 8616 times.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 5):
For an earlier period, you can't beat "Strategic Air Command" starring Jimmy Stewart. The aerial footage is spectacular with B-36s and B-47s.

Just saw it a few days ago on Netflix. Great film. I grew up in Tampa and dad flew RB-47s out of MacDill.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: flyingturtle
Posted 2012-10-13 06:20:24 and read 8609 times.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
Quoting rc135x (Reply 10):
Quoting moose135 (Reply 15):

A hearty thank you for sharing your knowledge!


I'll watch "Strategic Air Command" (again) and "Gathering of Eagles" as soon as possible.  

I've just found http://nd.edu/~dlindley/handouts/strangelovenotes.html which gives much political and military background to "Dr. Strangelove"... so much too read, so little time...


David

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: 9VSIO
Posted 2012-10-13 08:44:07 and read 8582 times.

Quoting Viscount724 (Reply 13):
You've probably seen this 2009 video from Minot AFB.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wJ7ni...YSVFo

Is that wake turb that they are encountering 5:25 into the video? Or are they just setting heading?

Great thread btw, very informative! If only we could launch civil planes like this... there would be no delays!

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: windy95
Posted 2012-10-15 09:08:28 and read 8292 times.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
I've never heard of any issues with the B-52 and wake turbulence. The point of the exercise is to get in the air.

Tons of wake turbulence in the MITO T/O with the 52's

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
Normal B-52 takeoffs and alert takeoffs are not at MTOW. The plane takes off planning to tank to a full fuel load.

All Alert T/O's would of been MTOW.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
I've seen plenty of MTOW takeoffs - from Andersen on Guam back in 1972. Those BUFFs were loaded to maximum capacity of bombs, and needed to tank before they reached cruise altitude

We would MITO with the 52's out of Andersen. They would go first and we would accelerate ahead of them while dropping the boom and hooking up on climbout. Some mission's we would dump 100,000 to 120,000lbs of fuel in the 52 and then we would disconnect and head right back home. We would be in the air for an hour or so and the BUFF's would come back some 12 to 16 hours later...

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
On alert takeoffs, the plane is usually off the runway in 6,000-6,500 ft and begins to climb quickly

MTOW takeoffs as has been stated in the 135 would involve 9K plus of runway depending upon conditions.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 11):
Climbing was also a slow proposition. In the KC-135 takeoff profiles (T/O Max mode) allowed for a very small height gain to clear airfield obstacles (say 300-500 feet above ground level) then the airplane would fly for a minute to several minutes in a relatively level attitude to accelerate to climb speed. Without this time to accelerate, the airplane could (especially if it lost an engine) enter a flight regime where it could neither climb nor accelerate.

Well stated. Speed was our friend. Do you remember the heavy takeoffs out of HNL. 180 loads in the heat and with an immediate turn after liftoff becasue we could not over fly any part of the city. We would rotate, push the nose over and start dipping the right wing into the Pacific until we had our heading and then straighten out and start to climb. What an underpowered pig the A modle was.

Quoting flyingturtle (Reply 17):
I'll watch "Strategic Air Command" (again) and "Gathering of Eagles" as soon as possible

Do that. Great look into the old SAC ways. There is also a great new biography on Curtis Lemay that will give an even better look into the man that created SAC and all of these aircraft.

Quoting 9VSIO (Reply 18):
Is that wake turb that they are encountering 5:25 into the video? Or are they just setting heading?

Some of it is wake turbulence but other times we had an intentional slide to find some clean air.

Quoting flyingturtle (Thread starter):
flyingturtle

Check your maps for Orlando IAP MCO which is old McCoy field. It still has the Christmas tree and Alert facility on the SW corner. The two large hangars north of it are the Old SAC hangars that we use for United MCO MX.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 10):
rc135x

Thanks for the great posts.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: taxpilot
Posted 2012-10-15 14:14:15 and read 8204 times.

Quoting moose135 (Reply 15):
The heaviest I remember launching in an A-model was out of Pease, we were headed to RAF Mildenhall, and joined up with a KC-10 to drag a gaggle of F-4s to Europe. I think the fuel load was around 165K, making take off weight somewhere around 275K. No rolling takeoff that day - we lined up, pushed up the power, started the water, and hoped for the best. We had 11,300 feet of runway, and I think we rotated at the 2K remaining marker, and lifted off at the 1K marker. I don't think (well, I know...) that I wouldn't have wanted to try that with a full EWO fuel load, as number 8 in a MITO after the horn went off.

Moose you sent a shiver down my old spine. I flew the A models out of Pease 75 - 80. My most memorable takeoff was an early fall morning at a gross weight of 272K (with water). I thumped the departure end arresting cable on rotation.

I always believed the KC-135A performance manual should have been a clasified document.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rfields5421
Posted 2012-10-15 15:53:56 and read 8155 times.

Quoting windy95 (Reply 19):
We would be in the air for an hour or so and the BUFF's would come back some 12 to 16 hours later...

It was completely humbling to sit in Dededo and watch the line-up for landing at Anderson, with every once in a while a BUFF trailing smoke. Like watching 12 O'Clock High - for real.

Even more than when we were in the northern GOT on SAM early warning patrol.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-15 20:34:02 and read 8089 times.

Quoting rwy04lga (Reply 16):
I grew up in Tampa and dad flew RB-47s out of MacDill.

MacDill was interesting for EWO MITO launches. It had a "double wide" runway and could accommodate two-abreast B-47 launches. In reality this meant that alternating aircraft used different sides of the runway at MITO intervals to mitigate wake turbulence and provide a margin of error in the event an airplane ahead aborted the takeoff. This was not possible for B-52s and KC-135s even with 300 foot wide runways at many SAC bases.

Quoting moose135 (Reply 15):
And I came across my copy of this really great book that tells you everything you ever wanted to know about the KC-135, written by an old squadron mate.

No doubt a scurrilous character.

Quoting windy95 (Reply 19):
Do you remember the heavy takeoffs out of HNL. 180 loads in the heat and with an immediate turn after liftoff becasue we could not over fly any part of the city.

We had a similar takeoff in the RC-135U/V/W out of Hellenikon AB at Athens, Greece. Heavyweight takeoff followed by an immediate left turn, as I recall. In the RC-135S/X out of PHIK/PHNL we could take off a little lighter because we had a tanker after takeoff, especially for the long BOA missions (I flew one that was planned as a 30-hour sortie).

Quoting taxpilot (Reply 20):
I always believed the KC-135A performance manual should have been a clasified document.

Early every morning on EWO alert the duty co-pilot would calculate the day's takeoff data: takeoff rated thrust (TRT), S1, rotate, critical field length, etc., and then post them on a slide shown at the morning briefing. Woe to the fledgling pilot who made an error, as it usually meant public humiliation and a long and painful session of takeoff data computations with one of the squadron instructor pilots. In reality, though, most crews felt in a true EWO alert launch, regardless of the computed data, that we would push the throttles up to the firewall, rotate with 1,000 feet remaining (usually at the edge of the overrun), and hope that the thermals from the burning wreckage of the lead tanker that didn't make it off would lift us out of ground effect enough to get flying.

Quoting taxpilot (Reply 20):
Moose you sent a shiver down my old spine.

The takeoff in the RC-135S out of Shemya AFB on runway 10 was always sporting. The runway was 10,006 feet long and we used every inch of it. Ops weight was 155k plus 130k fuel load so 285k at start taxi. If the wind was gusty (which it usually was) then critical field length was often equal to runway available (Cat 2), so losing an engine meant becoming airborne at the end of the runway which was over a 95 foot cliff leading into the northern Pacific Ocean. Throw in a little wind shear, fog, and wet or icy runway and it made the departure an eye-opening experience.

Quoting windy95 (Reply 19):
Thanks for the great posts.

Thanks for your contributions as well!

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: windy95
Posted 2012-10-16 05:52:13 and read 7998 times.




There also was a B-52 Crash at McCoy AFB in 1972. A B-52D tail #625 from Mccoy AFB crashed here killing 7 crew and 1 boy on the ground. Aircraft suffered engine failure/fire after takeoff with a heavy fuel load (250K) and attempted to return but crashed.

http://articles.orlandosentinel.com/...-crash-crash-site-crash-in-central

The crash site is in the open field between Conway Rd and the west edge of Lake Warren on the approach to 18R

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: windy95
Posted 2012-10-16 06:04:08 and read 7994 times.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 22):
Thanks for your contributions as well!

This was on a mission over the UK. Not sure what version this is. We came out of RAF Fairford.

http://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-snc7/312149_280751411947408_1502335577_n.jpg

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: rc135x
Posted 2012-10-16 11:33:27 and read 8038 times.

How wonderful to see the movie poster!

The airplane in the photos is most likely an EC-135H SILK PURSE airborne command post from the 10th ACCS at RAF Mildenhall, although there is a very small chance that it is an EC-135J on loan while one the 10th ACCS' jets was in PDM. Still, my money is on the EC-135H.


View Large View Medium
Click here for bigger photo!

Photo © Mike Freer - Touchdown-aviation

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: 135mech
Posted 2012-10-17 14:39:23 and read 7781 times.

Quoting ZANL188 (Reply 7):
In some cases the alert areas have been "disconnected" from the main runway complex. I suspect it was done for treaty reasons. It appears the runway was also narrowed considerably.

That runway was re-built in 2005 with all new materials and is super nice! They width of the runway does look narrower, but may just be a "visual" difference (take notice of the road from left to right that leads into the area...it's smaller/narrower also on the bottom picture and was never changed).

The runway was re-built to still be able to "land" the Space Shuttle if needed AND of course handle Air Force One and other out sized military aircraft.

The reason that the "alert pad" area was disconnected was for two reasons... The alert ramp stopped being used because of being degraded in quality (the severe winters realllllllly reak havoc on that poor concrete) due to the lack of use and maintenance/upkeep, along with "Charlie Ramp" extension that finally gave us true and efficient taxi-on and taxi-off parking... AND they did not want visitors accidentally taxiing to that closed ramp.

The larger building in that picture was the Alert Facility and the barn just north of it was the Tool Crib.

(I was stationed there twice for a combined 11 winters!  
Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
I've never heard of any issues with the B-52 and wake turbulence. The

I know of one very specifically... the KC-135A crash at Fairchild AFB around 1987... the airshow had a B-52 scream diagonally across the field and the Tanker crossed it's angle just after at the 90 degree cross angle... it hit the turbulence and the additional pilot in the "jump seat" lunged forward because of the severe turbulence and hit two of the throttles full forward and crashed the Tanker sadly.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 10):
The E-4B occasionally sat alert with us and there was a special warning to use caution for its wake turbulence. It had alert launch priority, but if you got behind it you still had to stick to the 12-15 second timing window. That could be a nightmare if you were not prepared.

I've actually read that 747's have a 6 mile "wake turbulence" that you have to be cautious of in civil aviation.

The loaded KC-135A (even in water) would/could only climb at approx 1,250 ft per minute in average conditions, so they needed all of the runway they could get. rc135x has a lot of very accurate and great information:

Quoting rc135x (Reply 11):
This was not true under most SIOP/EWO alert conditions. SAC runways were usually 8,000-10,000 feet long, and under most temperature and pressure altitude conditions the planned takeoff roll was often within 1,000 feet of (or very nearly equal to) critical field length, which meant that if a plane lost an engine after a certain point in the takeoff roll it could safely stop in the runway remaining. Under some EWO weather conditions, takeoff would be in the realm where after an engine loss the airplane could neither stop nor become airborne in the remaining runway (including the overrun) which meant a major accident. EWO alert takeoff rolls tended to be 8,000-9,000 feet.

Climbing was also a slow proposition. In the KC-135 takeoff profiles (T/O Max mode) allowed for a very small height gain to clear airfield obstacles (say 300-500 feet above ground level) then the airplane would fly for a minute to several minutes in a relatively level attitude to accelerate to climb speed. Without this time to accelerate, the airplane could (especially if it lost an engine) enter a flight regime where it could neither climb nor accelerate.

rc135x...I love reading your posts! Very concise and informative (and many memories)!

I remeber people making crude jokes that the first plane wouldn't make it... and the heat from the fire would "raise" the rest of the planes taking off into the sky.

Quoting windy95 (Reply 19):
Some of it is wake turbulence but other times we had an intentional slide to find some clean air.

Definately, people forget that the "water-burners" created so much polution that it was just a struggle to get good air for the engines of the next plane to use and keep going! If you had a "good diagonal breeze" it wasn't so bad, but if there was NO breeze...what a chore! Thanks, was thinking about that the whole time!

Quoting rc135x (Reply 22):
In reality, though, most crews felt in a true EWO alert launch, regardless of the computed data, that we would push the throttles up to the firewall, rotate with 1,000 feet remaining (usually at the edge of the overrun), and hope that the thermals from the burning wreckage of the lead tanker that didn't make it off would lift us out of ground effect enough to get flying.

Exactly!

Quoting windy95 (Reply 24):
This was on a mission over the UK. Not sure what version this is. We came out of RAF Fairford.

That's one of the EC-135-H's out of Mildenhall! (0291 was mine in 90-91)
windy95, I am enjoying reading your posts ! Thank you for your inputs and information!

Regards,
135Mech

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: Bongodog1964
Posted 2012-10-21 13:15:23 and read 7392 times.

Back to the original question, most RAF bomber stations had these concrete dispersals, normally 90 feet in diameter commonly referred to as frying pan dispersals. having just one entrance/exit the plane had to enter, and make a 180 degree turn. UK WW2 bases used by the USAAF had spectacle type hardstandings, these were in pairs of two and looked from the air just like a pair of specs so that planes could be taxied in and out without having to turn. They went out of fashion after WW2 in favour of aircraft servicing pans for a whole squadrons aircraft, with alert dispersals for three aircraft at the down wind end of the main runway.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: KC135TopBoom
Posted 2012-10-21 16:38:43 and read 7352 times.

Quoting rfields5421 (Reply 9):
On alert takeoffs, the plane is usually off the runway in 6,000-6,500 ft and begins to climb quickly.

No, Alert aircraft, KC-135s and B-52s were loaded to the max weight they could take off with the runway available. The FB-111s were loaded to MTOW or 119,000 lbs.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: Revelation
Posted 2012-10-22 15:06:12 and read 7175 times.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 5):
Perhaps the best film of this era is "A Gathering of Eagle" starring Rock Hudson, which was filmed at Beale AFB, California, using B-52Gs

Cool. Seems Amazon only has this available as a vhs, and it seems rare because the copies are pretty expensive.

Quoting rc135x (Reply 10):
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cq6Hpxyrhyo

Nice!

Quoting rc135x (Reply 11):
There was no peacetime plan to launch a SIOP-configured aircraft as the takeoff was considered a high-risk proposition, especially if an engine was lost or at high temperature and pressure altitude.

I've happened to have just read two books by F-105 pilots both heading to Vietnam, and was kind of surprised to see how many procedures that even those guys heading to Vietnam had very little or no experience doing:
> aerial refueling (maybe 1 or 2 dry contacts during daytime, none at night, none with drogue)
> takeoff at full load (none)
> using water injection (none)
> starting with cartridge instead of start cart (none)

Seems the first time these guys took off in a realistic configuration was on their first mission to North Vietnam!

The books say that the rookies would be given missions in the "quieter" route packages for their first 5 to 10 missions, but even in these "quieter" areas you still were likely to get shot at, so it seems pretty crazy to not give these guys some better preparation. Can you imagine doing all these things for the first time, then going North and getting shot at for the first time too?

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: KC135TopBoom
Posted 2012-10-25 09:55:52 and read 6722 times.

BTW, those alert ramps in the pictures above were called the "Christmas Tree" at bases that had that style alert ramps.

Topic: RE: Tell Me About These Things On Airbases...
Username: thowman
Posted 2012-10-25 16:44:33 and read 6629 times.

Quoting Bongodog1964 (Reply 27):

These are some examples of the RAF Alert Dispersal for the V Bomber Force - where up to 4 bombers would be at alert readiness ready to role down the runway when the balloon went up. Better known as an ORP (Operational Readiness Platform). These are located just adjacent to the runway as can be seen in the first photo.

Here are some valiants at Marham on the ORP there.
http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7024/6715949081_e2dc1afc76_o.jpg

And these are some vulcans taking off on a practice alert.


The RAF had these ORPs at many airfields, not just the main V-Force bases, more than 36 in all, all waiting for the "Mickey Finn" dispersal exercise, at which point many V Bombers would depart to their dispersal airfields. That must have been a sight!

This is an image of the ORP at Bedford, long since disused.
http://i68.photobucket.com/albums/i11/orangeherald/rae.jpg

[Edited 2012-10-25 16:47:48]

[Edited 2012-10-25 16:50:20]


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