This a Cronology of a 2 day mission from NAS Whidbey Island(NUW) to Curacao(CUR) and back with my squadron, VR61.
The route of flight:KNUW-KNIP-TNCC
Type Aircraft: McDonnell Douglas C-9B(DC9-32CF)
The trip was 2 weeks back. We were taking some squadron folks down for something. Crew brief was 0700 for a 0900 launch. I put my gear on the plane beforehand so I could get some other stuff done after brief and before departure. I went back out to the car to get my other flight suit to turn in for a exchange or repair. Today we were taking aircraft 159116, a real C-9B. She was delivered in 9/74, so she's still a baby by DC9 standards. I went up to ops to grab the loadbag, international forms, the Foreign Clearance Guide, and flight packet. We briefed with the TAC(Aircraft Commander), the T2P(copilot) the CrewChief and the flight attendant(snicker bitch). We discussed the usual safety procedures, crew rest, crew duty limitations and such. The weather temp was in our favour today, fuel count for the flight was a full 36K which would allow us to fly nonstop to Jax. We were scheduled for 22 duty pax and 3500 lbs of cargo. We were in a G-rig, which is 65 seats and 2 cargo pallets. The aircraft commander cleared 35 seats to Jax. We couldn’t clear space A’s to Curacao unless they had special leave authorizations due to diplomatic clearance restrictions with Curacao. When the brief was over, I went to go get the wheels in motion to get the mission. I went over the terminal check the passenger manifest, and see what last minute changes were done to the mission, since there always is. Upon checking with the handling agent, the pax count was reduced to 11. and freed up approximately another 2000 lbs of gross weight. I walk over to the aircraft parked outside the terminal on Spot 3on the ramp. The fuel truck was already out at the aircraft being fueled by the plane captain. I walked on to the aircraft, put my stuff in the last row of seats to start my preflight. Made some coffee in the forward galley, and started my paperwork for the leg down and the leg to Curacao. The flight time was 5.5 hours, and cruise altitude was 35000ft. Got my calculator out and filled out the weight balance data sheet. This is a sheet that is to formulate out weight balance information and tell us where cargo is placed on the aircraft for CG reasons. We normally put as much weight as we can in the aft baggage compartment because the weight shifts to much in the fwd part when loading and loading cargo. This gives us more flexibility with shifting weights. (The DC-9 is perfect for this type of mission of unloading and picking up cargo better that most narrowbody aircraft due to the fact we don’t carry any artificial ballast like the lead blankets that the Navy’s 737’s do. The 737’s advantage is it almost sips gas unlike the the DC9’s). Fueling was completed early, and crewchief was finishing up his preflight inspection. The pallet of cargo arrived. It was screened for any hazmat, such as chemicals. The SV2 lifevests were checked for flares or ordinance before they’re loaded into the luggage compartment. The rest of the bags are loaded by this time, as well as the customary case of beer, Red Hook ESB is loaded into the fwd bin to keep cold for when get down to Curacao. The passengers are loaded shortly after 0830 through the aft stairwell because of the cargo pallet. The final count in 11 passengers, and 5 crew on-board. The copies of the forms are handed over the side to the handlers and one for the flight deck, meanwhile all the doors are shut at 0845. Forward entry door is armed, and cleared to taxi signal is given. We’re on our way.
As we’re taxiing toward the runway, the emergency brief is being given, and performed. We wrap up the last of the security checks, verifying exit rows and escape routes. Myself and the other crewmember meet at mid-cabin verifying the thumbs up. I go to my seat and strap in for take off. We pause for a few moment while 2 P-3 Orions from VP-10 do a touch and go. We then proceed through the threshold and go full power for the takeoff roll. We pull up and rotate of the runway and make an immediate bank to the right over Deception Pass on Whidbey Island, and make our way east towards Wenatchee in Eastern Central Washington. We’re at cruise altitude after about 20 minutes due to heavy traffic around SEA, and YVR, since we’re smack dab in the middle of both of there airspace. We above the cloud cover heading East/SE passing over Moses Lake(where Boeing’s flight test facility is located, Pullman, south of Spokane/Fairchild AFB heading into southern Idaho.
We pass over Boise Air Terminal, Mountain Home AFB heading into Wyoming, Montana, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri. We turn left a notch over Little Rock, Arkansas before passing over Memphis TN. Local time at the present position is about 15:30 EST. We start pre-arrival procedures about this time for our descent into NAS Jacksonville. We make another left turn to head north a little because of traffic at Moody AFB near Valdosta, GA. We then turn right heading south again. We’re out off the Florida/Georgia coastline heading SW making a pass over the city Jacksonville before we loop around to head east again to vector for the approach into the field. The signal for arrival is given, and the groan and thump of the gear comes down. It’s a smooth landing no wind. We touch down at 1650 local. The sun is just starting to go down at this point. We taxi towards the T-line(Transient Line) near the passenger terminal at base ops. We pull into the rotunda and swing the aircraft around to where the nose pre-positioned for an easy departure scheduled to take place in just over an hour.
We lower the aft stairs to let the passengers off while we refuel. I go in the terminal with the pilots to see if we can get a ride to McDonalds on base to get some food. I mull around in the terminal area for abit looking at the display case of model airplanes there while waiting for the van to McD’s to arrive. We head over to McDonalds for the for the food. We bring it back to aircraft for the rest of the crew.
116 at the Jax Terminal
Here's a little tour of the C-9.
The front office of the C-9 with the Phase II upgrade
Meanwhile we’re waiting for the aircraft to be fueled, I stand outside and watch the P-3s based here doing touch and goes, since JAX is another ASW base with 10 operational P-3 units, which includes 7 active ASW units one VIP unit, a US customs that operates P-3 Awacs type aircraft, and the one training squadron, VP-30. There used to be a reserve unit here also, VP-62 (which Limp Biskit frontman, Fred Durst was member of when he was in the Navy), but they’re dissolving into the active squadrons. They’re aircraft were still there, but just being used by the active units. Fueling is almost complete, we’re fueling to 31K of fuel for this leg. The TAC starts to panic when the passengers haven’t shown back up, apparently after they went to go get something to eat.The sun has gone down at this point, and the area lights come on around the flight apron The aircraft is fueled up and ready to go, but the pax still haven’t shown up, it’s 1830 by this time. The passengers finally how up after they went to a food court at the Navy Exchange which twice as far as the McDonald’s is. It’s 1850 at this time before we depart, almost a half hour later than scheduled. We pull the rear stairs up, close all the doors and we’re soon on our way heading to Curacao. On this leg, we conduct the overwater brief which includes the lifejacket demo, even though it technically isn’t an overwater flight since we aren’t flying outside of land, but it’s nighttime and feel it’s appropriate. There are several divert fields
along the way. After the brief is done, we get the double chime from the cockpit, signifying prepare for departure. We turn onto the runway, the nacelle, and wing floodlights illuminate. The engines spool up, the brakes are released, and we’re rolling. Flight time is 4hrs, 50 minutes.
Gathering speed as head down the runway, we lift off int the night-sky heading east for a bit before turning south towards the Caribbean. The city lights of Jacksonville illuminate below us, an we near the coast line of Florida. Our flight path will take us right along the coast of Florida, passing over the cities of Flagler, Crescent City, Titusville, Cape Canaveral before we head in land abit, over the Florida Everglades. From there we head south again toward Ft Myers/Marco Island, passing over Key West heading out into the Caribbean Sea. From there we turn left again heading East/SE skirting between Nassau, Bahamas flying north of the city Havana, on the Cuban coast before we turn south again towards the Dominican Republic. Some turbulant skies are reported on the planned route so we deviate a little, heading a little more south between Santo Domingo, and Port-au-Prince in Haiti. Later on the flight we start to make preps for arriving in Curacao. We get word that we’re an hour out. I pull out the passports and customs decks for immigrations. We’re slowing down at this point and slow descent starts. We go through to clean the cabin and collect trash and food wrappers and stuff. I start the forms for the landing weights to give to the pilots prior to landing. The form is completed and handed to flight deck. “On the ground in 20 minutes” the commander tells me. One last walk-through of the cabin is done, before we get the double chime from the flight deck for landing. We turn on to finals the outside lights come on outside the aircraft. We pass over the threshold of the runway for an easy touchdown. We pull off the runway at the far end since there aren’t any shorter turnoffs available heading in this direction. We taxi past the civilian terminal, by the fuel farm. A Canadian Air Forces CP-3 is off to our left. We pull into the Joint Operations Command ramp area, headed by the US Air Force. We join few other aircraft, a KC-135R from the Penna.Air National Guard is on one side, a crew from the RAF is positioning a DeHaviland Nimrod AEW aircraft. Also there were 2 E-3 Awacs planes from Tinker AFB. We park on the ramp, breaks set. The rear air-stair is dropped. We drop a garbage at the bottom for ATOC to collect when the come out to service the lavatories. I go back up to the cabin, start packing up my gear in order to get ready to head to the hotel. The air ops rep comes up the stairs to process the paperwork. He glances it over and gives the all-clear to unload everyone. I go to the fwd to open the main-deck cargo door to await the K-loader to take the pallet of cargo off. The hydralic system is opened, I pull the T-handle to open the door. It opens an locks into place, the pallet is slid off on the K-loader, and it backs away from the aircraft. I then go to close the door. I isolate the hydralics, yell all clear, and twist the T-handle in the other direction to close and lock the door. I do one quick check outside to do a visual check on the door, and ensure it’s locked. It’s all good. The crewchief shuts down the power and the APU on the aircraft, we change into civies before going out in town. It’s a 2330 by the time we head to the hotel. We all crack open a cold one on the bus heading over to the hotel for the night.
Some pictures of Curacao
Even my rollaboard gets a little sun.
Flight time 8hrs, 50 mins
The next day, we were scheduled to depart for NAS Whidbey Island at 1330 local. We reported for pickup in the lobby at 1130. The crew gathered outside and loaded up on the bus. We move through the streets heading to the airport. It was interesting to see the island in the light of day. Not exactly paradise. We arrive through the gates of airbase side of the airport. We park outside the ops building, and security opens the gate to flight line. On the line today are the same stablemates as the night before.
A PENNA. ANG KC-135R based at Corapolis, PA/Greater Pittsburgh Airport. For you Steeler fans, it has a Steeler logo on the tailfin.
The weather is forecasted to get bad. Reports of squalls are run along the newswire. We begin preflight preps, and paerworks. The pilots file for the route home. We're filing for a fuel stop in Corpus Christi. We start the APU to get power on the aircraft. We change into flight gear. The lift coordinator of the group we're bringing home briefs with us on how much cargo and the weights of the lift including the weight of the group itself. We give him about 20 mins for the cargo to be brought out, while we fuel up the aircraft, and do our preflight duties. During the fueling, I watch a Surinam Airways MD80 taxi past for take-off, as well as an Aeropostal MD80. An ATR42 lands as well. We're about an hour from departure, and we call for the passengers to be brought out. We load thy're bags, again in the rear compartment. We also load about 10 souvenier packs of Amstel Beer from the Amstel Brewery. Too bad they don't donate some of those to us . We load up the cargo, about 2000lbs, not very much compared to yesterday. We button up the aircraft and prepare for our trip home. At this time, it starts to rain, and hard. Visibility becomes limited but still able to take off in. We pass the line of Awacs aircraft on our way to the runway
One of the Tinker E-3's
The 2nd one.
At 1340, we hold short of the threshold for about 10 minutes, before we proceed to take off. We begin our take-off roll.
Rotate, gear up!
We head for Corpus Christi.
After a 3hrs of flying, the only peice of land we passed over was the Yucatan Peninsula flying over the Gulf Of Mexico. We then made our way to Corpus Christi, TX. Some shots of the barrier island and inter-coastal waterways
Landing at NAS Corpus Christi, TX
Pulling up to the terminal at Corpus.
The passengers were unloaded and taken in the terminal while we were on the ground for about an hour for refueling. The pilots went to subway to get dinner for the crew. We put about 32K of gas on board. The pilots returned with the goods, and when refueling completed, we got underway for the trip back to Whidbey Island.
A C-5B Galaxy from Dover AFB
Unfortunately I left my camera on during the leg into Corpus which drained my camera battery down. Any way we took at around 1730 local, and headed NW across Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Oregon, and over the border into Washington. We passed over Olympia, before heading north towards Seattle. We deviated around Seattle due to overcrowded airspace. We then headed straight up to NAS Whidbey Island for a straight in approach. We landed shortly before 2000. And it was another successful mission of supporting the fleet.