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 I shoulda Gone Around

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Liberator

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Number of posts : 4
Registration date : 2007-06-12

PostSubject: I shoulda Gone Around   Sat Jul 28, 2007 3:40 am

Hiyya

Sorry Guys This is A Big one Read at your own Peril

I know some of you will point out that this is on Warbirds but still it was a Crew Concept problem and also I guess fellow airline pilots will appreciate the story. So Here Goes .

We were flying the B-24 Liberator at Elmira Corning Airport New York "KELM" had a good turn out from the airshow crowd. The planes were shiny and pristine in the all silver livery for the Liberator and olive Drab for the B-17. My wife(who was the show organising committee member) had organised an early morning flight for us with 8 passengers. All eager to get airborne, some for the first time in what their fathers/grandfathers flew and fought in, and some, who flew them in far worse conditions than we moan about today.

I was flying with a senior Capt on the B-24 ( A Full time A320 check pilot for A Major US carrier ). We had had two flights before and developed a very high regard for the each other's flying skills and the machismo of greasers.

Pre Flights Complete Passengers aboard, we took off as the sun rose in the early hours from runway 24. Engines revebrating through the airframe. A Plane loaded with smiles the size of watermelons on all the crew and passengers. Our Crew Chief ( Flt Engineer ) for the day was Gary. He was our one man maintenence team on the B 24. No matter how much we loved the plane he never failed to remind us that she was HIS and he just Loaned her to us for a few hours.

This being My (Sector) flight I settled down to enjoying the heavy sweaty job of flying this flying piece of aviation history. I Piled on the Power ever so gently, watching the revs and engines come along, with Gary's Constant gaze. She started to lumber down the runway swaying as I waited for the 60 miles per hour when the rudder came into effect. Until then No Nose wheel steering and no rudder. Power is all you had to steer with.

Now all this, with 2000 people watching you go. Well! Talk about pressure there. We reached our liftoff speed and I got both hands on the controls to heave the controls back. No Power boost... no hydraulics... This is Pure un-adulterated Hand Flying. Once airborne we slammed the gear lever up and climbed out at Flaps 5 raising her as we reached safety height. When we had sufficient altitude and speed we turned back for a right downwind at 2600' ( the Field elevation was 960 feet ) and we had rising terrain to the north. On final at 180 Mph we dropped down to the deck at 1100 feet at an angle to the runway on a heading of approx 200 deg and as we came near the crowd lowered the right wing and waved as the big silver giant streaked past the cheering crowds wing drooped in all her splendour.

After that we sped away to the north climbing with the energy left behind from the buzz. We reached 4000' on the Altimeter and could almost touch the trees on the high plateau over which we were flying. Now I had flown over mountains and hills but never over slow rising flat terrain. From there we flew over a lake at least 2000' above the elevation of the field. enjoying the views of the early morning with passengers crawling freely through the crevices of the bomber. One Veteran Navigator (82 yrs old ) stood right beside me and patted my shoulder with tears in his eyes. it had been 58 years since he set foot in a B-24 since he got shot down over the Pacific islands and here he was flying in one back again.

Well Our time was up as we timed each ride to 30 minutes in the air. We set course back towards Elmira airport general area skimming the tops of the plateau. Over the ridge we could see the city looming below and the region where we left the airport. Standing there waiting for us would be a crowd of 2000 not to mention the myriad of Local TV-Cameras and families and My Wife.

As we came close to the ridge I looked at The Capt and shot a "shall we take the Gear now" ( The Landing Gear in the B -24 takes a long time to extend and cannot be used with any other hydraulics in conjunction. Also for fear of throwing any passengers out the Nose Doors we have to see that the nose compartment is clear of sightseers.)

The Capt Looked at me and said "Hey you have flown in the left seat too you gotta start making those decisions without my prompting" He meant I should be Commanding for the Gear when I felt the right moment . I took it as lets wait a little longer. That would have been fine had the airport been at the same level as what we were flying over but as the terrain dropped off gradually we got higher and higher than what we should have and then when I finally called for the gear it was probably a lot later.

The Capt had implicit faith in my abilities from the efficiency I showed him in our previous flights and I in turn had utmost faith in him and his vast experience in bombers fighters and airliners. The only one who probably felt uncomfortable was Gary our flight engineer who displays his concern with a broad smile ( I now know that smile to mean "Hmmmm what are you guys gonna do now ?")
Now As we established on Base with gear down and too fast to take flaps The mood got a little more serious. Gary announced that all passengers are in and strapped to the floor ( Makeshift FAA approved Floor Seat Harnesses ). As we turned to Final I felt we were high and so Did the Capt. But Sensing each others calm attitude we each felt we can Do It. So I managed some real interesting semilevel offs and on schedule flap extension and not to mention almost reverse loading the engines ( Idle Power )( a big No No in Warbird World, if you want longer life for those Rare engines )
The Landing although safe would probably get me a Presidential spot in The Australian Kangaroo hoppers club. The Touchdown point is Exactly adjacent to the podium where we have the by now expanded 2000+ spectators and news crew waiting for us so we were sure to get a tons of "what was that !" looks Shocked

During the roll out all sweaty and humbled from our experience,we pondered silently. Gary then broke the eerie silence, Looked at us and calmly said. ""That was Probably a Go Around (situation) huh ? Laughing ""

There have been ,amy other tough approaches since that day but none I would classify in this category . The fact that we each trusted the others ability beyond our comfort level was probably the biggest faux pas of the day.

Lets hope everyone out there enjoys the magnificient views of our glorious profession and keeps the passionnate fire burning in the hearts of all us avid aviators of this day and age. May we have far fewer first hand learnings and a lot safer skies.

May that flame of passion for the third dimension never burn out.
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haree



Number of posts : 24
Location : India
Registration date : 2007-06-01

PostSubject: Re: I shoulda Gone Around   Sat Jul 28, 2007 2:36 pm

I'm too dumb in terms of the technical stuff of flying to comment on this but I must say one word

WOW!!!

that was really a great read and you really had a great share of flying those old beauties. Its like dating Elizabeth Taylor who'd look not a day more than 25 today (with due respects)

Haree
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