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Flying in a New Mountain Area is Always a Fun Experience

Weather sucks, okay complaining complete.

Snow and wind kept me from flying the last two weeks which was really frustrating, but better safe than sorry.  Fortunately, this week has been absolutely stunning and I have flown my guts out.  Five flights in three days to be exact.  I won’t give you the full run down in one post, but I have a bunch that I will be posting in the next few days because I learned so much and I have so much to share.  I really just want to skip to my favorite part, but there was so much learning before that part that I will control myself.

When the weather is beautiful here, it is incredibly beautiful.

On Tuesday I was scheduled to fly out to Elko, for some tactical fun in an area that we really don’t get into very often.  It is always fun to check out new places, which happens a lot for me right now since I am still new here, but when it comes to mountain, low-level flying, it is also useful to have someone who has been there before to keep you safe.

The flight out there was a little boring as is to be expected when droning along for 45 minutes.  Though I will say that there is still something beautiful about the high desert mountain ranges.  Especially while they are still covered with a good bit of snow.  I know the dry isn’t for everyone, but I do feel at home here.

Upon getting to Elko, it was a lesson in high altitude approaches for the pilots.  The aircraft commander was an experienced, born and raised Nevadan who has been flying in the area for a long time.  Our co-pilot is still relatively new to the plane, but soaks up information like a sponge and really applies the lessons he learns.  The funny thing is that both of them had similar struggles.

When you fly at high altitudes, the plane just does not slow down as quickly because the air is so much thinner.  I am not sure if it is quite as dramatic on jet aircraft, but for the C-130 it makes a huge difference because those big barn door propellers don’t act as effectively as air brakes.  That being said, both pilots landed safely in the zone and some good learning was accomplished.  There was also a fun little crowd lined up along the road by the time we finished enjoying the beautiful majesty that is the mighty Hercules.

Once we were done with our patterns we headed out East of Elko into the Ruby mountains.  This area is well-known for its Heli-skiing which was easy to understand as we headed out into the still completely snow-covered mountains.  They Ruby Mountains are a pretty small little range, but are incredibly majestic because they just explode out of the desert floor.  I don’t have the exact numbers in front of me, but there is about a 5-6000 foot increase in elevation in a matter of maybe 5-6 miles.  It was truly a sight to behold.

The route we had built split the gap between the Humboldt and Ruby ranges and then proceeded to the south along the East side of the Rubies.  A few miles down the ridge we climbed up for an expected ridge crossing, which looked a little with some clouds, but proved to not be a huge deal.  We crossed the ridge and dropped down into this gorgeous valley that was also still full of snow all the way to the bottom.  You could see the ski tracks from those who had partaken of this incredible terrain.

While I would hesitate to take a small aircraft down as far as we fly, it was a nice wide valley with nice easy turns, that was sloping down the entire way through the valley opening up back into the valley East of Elko.  The video below doesn’t really do it justice, but it gives you a little taste of just how stunning this experience was.

Not to give up after only one fun valley, we proceeded further down the range where we were able to do a little more exploring through this gorgeous range of mountains.  It was easy to see why people would pay ridiculous amounts of money to experience them on skis.

We took advantage of the less dramatic mountain ranges on the way back to educate the young co-pilot on mountain flying and how to execute turns through the valleys safely, which he picked up quickly.  It was also a great chance to help him build his sight picture for ridge crossings and how to do that effectively.  For most people these skills are not as important because you should give such dangerous areas plenty of room, but for a C-130 crew, it is how we live, and not just because it is fun.

Training of any type can get a little monotonous if you just do the same stuff over and over again, so no matter what you are flying, or what other passions you may be pursuing, make sure that you mix it up a little.  Fly to a new airport, rent a different type of plane, try some formation flying (with proper preparation of course), just do something different.  It will keep you engaged and enjoying the variety of life that makes aviation so much fun.

Speaking of variety, my flying wasn’t complete for the day yet.  To hear more about the rest of my day check out my next post…

March 29, 2018 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

Giving Them Wings: The Basic Airborne Course at Fort Benning, GA

The C-130 is the chariot of choice for modern Airborne students.

The C-130 is the chariot of choice for modern Airborne students.

This article originally appeared on NYCAviation.com.

Dropping something out of an airplane is generally frowned upon for most people because you never know where that thing you dropped is going to land or whom it might hurt. However, in the C-130, dropping things out of our airplane is what makes us different from UPS or FedEX; that, and landing on dirt strips that are only 3000 feet long.

In the history of the US military, a number of significant drops really changed the face of the wars where they took place. As a member of the 50th Airlift Squadron, I am proud of the heritage that has been left to me by those who participated in those airdrops, including D-Day — probably the most famous airdrop of all.

The HBO series Band of Brothers (which if you haven’t seen, I highly recommend) made that airdrop known to my generation and really reinforced the dangerous nature of those types of missions. Another fascinating part of that series was the training and transforming of those men into paratroopers to prepare them to make that fateful jump.

In the decades since that jump, not a ton has changed in the training. Sure, the equipment has improved; though not exactly the same, it still follows the same basic pattern. That includes using three of the four 250-foot jump towers at Ft. Benning where the training continues to take place.

To read the full article and see more videos and images please visit NYCAviation.com.

April 6, 2015 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.

C-130 Lands Unarrested on an Aircraft Carrier

As awesome as it is to watch beautifully produced videos of aircraft in HD, sometimes it is nice to watch some of the old grainy videos from a long time ago.

I got this video from my dad when I found out I was being assigned to the C-130.  It is a pretty incredible video of a USMC KC-130F landing on the USS Forrestal aircraft carrier, and took place in November and October of 1963.

They performed 29 touch-and-gos, 21 unarrested full-stop landings, and 21 unassisted takeoffs.  Weighing 85,000 pounds it performed a full-stop landing in only 267 feet.  With a maximum load on take-off it used only 745 feet.

These tests proved that the KC-130F could take off with 25,000 pounds of cargo, transport it 2,500 miles and land safely on the carrier.  Our modern jets can do some amazing things, but this stuff is just crazy.  I could keep going, but I’d rather you just enjoy the video below.

All information quoted above comes from the video itself.

June 6, 2013 I Written By

I'm Dave and I am a proud Avgeek. It goes way beyond liking airplanes. It is a passion that cannot be subdued.