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P-3C Ditches with Four Engines Out, All Survive!



 
 
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  #1  
Old September 22nd 04, 09:37 AM
Scet
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default P-3C Ditches with Four Engines Out, All Survive!



With all the non - aviation military posts on this group, I thought I'd post
this article. There maybe a few in this group that are actually interested
in Military aviation! Some of you may have read this before. The article
appeared in Foundation Volume 18 Number 1 - Spring 1997
Scet

"They Said It Would Never Happen:"
"A P-3C Ditches with Four Engines Out, All Survive!"
25 March 1995

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----

While going through the P3 FRS, newly winged aviators have always asked the
question: "Has a P-3 ever lost all four engines at the same time." The
answer was always: "No, it will never happen." Well as Murphy's Law applies,
it can - and we did.
While on deployment and after performing an anti-submarine warfare mission
with the USS Constellation (CV-64) battle group, which was located 200 miles
east of Oman, VP-47 combat aircrew nine was returning to Masirah, Oman. The
flight station crew was composed of LCDR Mark Radice, a lieutenant commander
and a former P-3 FRS instructor who had just checked into the squadron 19
days earlier for his second tour; AE 1 Richard White, the flight engineer;
and me, a senior lieutenant in the squadron with about 273 aircraft
commander hours.
Little did we know that we were about to experience the beginning of what
would eventually be one of the worst P-3 mishap ever. We had just restarted
the number one engine, which was loitered on station to conserve fuel, and
climbed up to an altitude of 16,000 feet for our transit home. At about 130
miles east of the island of Masirah, Oman, the flight engineer noticed that
the number one prop pump warning light on the number four engine was
illuminated. I directed the flight engineer to increase the number four
power lever, which was the first step of our emergency procedure, and it
also ensured that we have a good blade angle.
We then pulled out our NATOPS flight manual commonly referred to as the "Big
Blue Sleeping Pill," and read through the remaining steps of our procedure.
Having a prop pump light in itself was not a big worry, but it could
eventually lead to bigger problems. Approaching 80 miles east of Masirah,
the situation worsened. The second prop pump light on the number four engine
illuminated and the prop began to overspeed. The crew went through the
overspeed procedures, and we determined that the prop was pitch locked. This
malfunction does not occur on a regular basis in the P-3 Orion, so needless
to say, the flight crew's concern and heart rate increased as to what would
happen to the prop when we fuel chopped the engine during our descent to
land.
We flew back to the airfield at 16,000 feet and executed a slow, spiraling
descent to maintain our number four engines rpm at 100 percent. Not knowing
what would happen when we fuel chopped the number four engine, the flight
station went through the descent, approach and three engine landing
considerations checklists. Approaching 6,000 feet and nearing the engine's
limit power setting, we decided to circle the field one last time, extend
out fora good downwind leg and fuel chop the engine in anticipation for our
landing. Unfortunately, we would not get to land at the airfield. Passing
5,600 feet, we heard and felt a tremendous explosion. My co-pilot, who was
in the right seat, looked out and saw a huge cloud of black smoke. To his
utter dismay, when the smoke cleared, he saw the number four prop missing
and the reduction gear box on fire. LCDR Radice called out to shut down the
number four engine and discharge the fire extinguisher.
I was in the left seat, so I was unable to see what was going on. Trusting
his judgment, I concurred with the decision to shut the engine down. The
flight engineer shut down the engine and discharged the fire extinguisher.
LCDR Radice looked out at the engine and the fire was still raging. AE1
White then discharged the second fire bottle. Unfortunately, the fire kept
burning. AE 1 White then called out that the number three engine's rpm was
winding down. LCDR Radice looked out at the number three prop and called out
that the prop are looked bad. It made sense that during the explosion, the
number four engine probably took out the number three engine. We then called
out to shut down the number three engine. While the flight engineer was
pulling the number three emergency shutdown handle, I simultaneously
advanced the number one and number two engine power levers.
Expecting to hear or feel a pitch change in the prop and not getting one,
you can imagine my reaction when I looked out and saw both props barely
rotating. Upon seeing this, I looked back inside the flight station to let
the rest of the crew in on the secret, but AE 1 White beat me to it and
called flameout on number one and two engines.
All of the sudden the flight station went dark due to a total electrical
power loss. Shaking my head with dismay, "saying you've got to be kidding
me," we directed AEI White to pull the hydraulic boost handles and start the
auxiliary power unit in order to get electrical power back. At this time we
were gust locked, which is the same as when your car's steering column locks
up and you can't move it. To say the least, it was not a good feeling. After
the boost handles were pulled, the flight engineer made several attempts to
start the APU, but it kept flaming out. At this point things were really
looking bad for VP-47's crew. When the boost handles were pulled, the
aircraft should have switched from a hydraulic to a mechanical advantage.
For some reason, this didn't occur and we were unable to control the
aircraft. The aircraft rolled right into a 45-50 degree angle of bank and
our airspeed bled off from 260 to 210 knots.
On the flight station we thought that the aircraft was going to stall and
roll inverted. What a horrible gut wrenching feeling it was to think that
this was going to be the end for everyone. I was their aircraft commander
and I as responsible for their well-being. I could not get control of the
aircraft and we did not have time to put on our parachutes to bailout. Even
if we would have had time to don our parachutes, the main cabin door was
facing the sky, which made bailing out impossible.
Up to this point, the entire evolution from engine explosion had taken about
45 seconds. With my heart pounding from being afraid and wanting to save the
rest of the crew, I said a quick prayer. My prayers were answered. The
control column went boost out and unlocked. Finally at about 2,500 feet, we
were able to control the aircraft. We leveled the wings, then continued in a
left hand turn to acquire the airfield. When I saw the airfield 90 degrees
off of our left wing, we were at 2,000 feet and 6-7 miles away from land. A
harsh reality set in -- we were going to have to ditch the aircraft.
Having never heard of or seen NATOPS procedures for a no engine, no-flap,
boost-out ditch, the we had to use gut instinct. We knew that if we flew too
fast, it would be hard to pull the nose up upon water entry. If we flew to
slow, the aircraft would stall soon after leveling off above the water. We
maintained our airspeed between 175-180 knots, which gave us a 1,000 fpm
rate of descent. At this time, as with all life threatening situations, each
crew 7 member's adrenaline system kicked in to its maximum. Fortunately, I
had a great set of parents and a high school football coach who was a former
Oakland Raider all-pro football player who taught me to never quit and find
ways to win. At about 1,200 feet, we told the rest of the crew to prepare
for immediate ditching. At 200 feet approaching water entry, both LCDR
Radice and I started pulling back on the yoke. The nose came up nicely. The
two biggest items necessary to perform a successful ditch is to maintain
wings level and have a shallow rate of descent. At first, we were able to
keep our wings level and get our rate of descent to about 300 feet per
minute. At 80 feet, the right wing started rolling as we slowed down. LCDR
Radice recognized the problem, called for left full yoke and the right wing
came back up. Upon water entry, we were wings level, had a 200 feet per
minute rate of descent and were right at 135 knots. After several skips
across the water and fighting to keep the nose of the aircraft up, the plane
finally came to rest. A P-3 ditch can best be described as being similar to
a log ride at an amusement park, but with more of a kick in the pants.
The amazement of still being alive with the Orion still afloat caught me off
guard, but there was little time for celebration. The water traversed
through the tube of the aircraft and shot into the flight station like
someone pointing a fire hose at us. My co-pi lot and flight engineer
evacuated the aircraft through the overhead escape hatch. I evacuated the
aircraft through the side escape hatch located immediately behind the pilot
seat on the left side. After jumping into the water, I soon realized that
the plane was still drifting like a boat does without power.
To my chagrin, the number two prop was coming right for me and was going to
plow right over me. All that 1 could do was to paddle backwards as fast as I
could to avoid the prop, putting my hands on the prop to push me out of its
way. Fortunately, the aircraft came to a stop and I was able to swim to the
leading edge of the wing between the number one and number two engines. I
called out to LCDR Radice to see if the whole crew made it out of the
aircraft. I was covered from head to toe with aircraft fuel and my eyes were
on fire. My flight gloves were slippery from the fuel and this made it
difficult to climb on top of the wing. After three tries, I was finally able
to climb on top of the wing and reach the my TACCO and in-flight technician.
The rest of the crew evacuated out the starboard side escape hatch and
entered their life rafts. My in-flight tech nician was pulling the ring to
inflate the life raft, but the blasted thing would not inflate.A pilot
friend of mine and his crew were waiting to take off to pick up an admiral
in Bahrain when we hit the water. Shortly after we got into the life rafts,
my buddy flew over and the crew let out a big yell. Once things finally
settled down, the crew looked each other over and checked for injuries. To
my surprise, not a single crew member was injured. The only person with a
problem was me.
Up to this point I had controlled my temper quite well, but this was too
much. After a few choice words directed to the life raft, the only option
left was to inflate our life vests and swim around to the other side.
Realizing our predicament, the crew in the other life rafts began to paddle
around the rear of the aircraft in order to meet us. The three of us joined
the other crew members and climbed into the rafts.
I had fuel in my eyes and they were burning like crazy. My sensor one
operator carried a little water bottle in his life vest. He pulled out the
water bottle and began to pour it in my eyes to flush out the fuel. While he
was taking care of me, my TACCO and second pilot were trying to contact the
other P-3 crew on our PRC-90 radios to let them know of our status.
This day was true to form, because my TACCO went through three radios before
he found one that worked. On the fourth radio, he was finally able to talk
to the other crew to let them know that we were fine.
We were in the rafts for only 10 minutes before the SAR helicopter arrived.
The rescue was uneventful. The helicopter took seven crew members on the
first trip and four crew members on the second trip.
A month later, a barge and crane raised the aircraft and we discovered that
the number four prop had thrown a blade. The imbalance of only three blades
caused the engine to explode. The prop blade was thrown from right to left
and cut through the body of the aircraft, severing 35 of 44 engine and
flight control cables. Four of the cables cut went to the four engines. The
cutting action caused a pulling action which shut down all four engine
simultaneously. The hydraulic boost handle cables were cut and the APU fuel
line was cut. The nine intact cables were two aileron cables, two elevator
cables, two elevator trim tab cables and two rudder trim tab cables.The
co-pilot's main flight control cable was cut. VP-47's crew nine flew under a
lucky cloud that day.
For so many things to So wrong and everything to work out perfectly was a
total surprise to me. I have never questioned the reason we were spared, but
I am glad that we were.





Ads
  #2  
Old September 22nd 04, 12:34 PM
Mortimer Schnerd, RN
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Scet wrote:
With all the non - aviation military posts on this group, I thought I'd post
this article. There maybe a few in this group that are actually interested
in Military aviation! Some of you may have read this before. The article
appeared in Foundation Volume 18 Number 1 - Spring 1997
Scet

"They Said It Would Never Happen:"
"A P-3C Ditches with Four Engines Out, All Survive!"



Great story. Thanks for posting it.



--
Mortimer Schnerd, RN


http://www.mortimerschnerd.com


  #3  
Old September 22nd 04, 01:12 PM
Greasy Rider
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Scet" wrote in message
...


With all the non - aviation military posts on this group, I thought I'd
post
this article. There maybe a few in this group that are actually interested
in Military aviation! Some of you may have read this before. The article
appeared in Foundation Volume 18 Number 1 - Spring 1997
Scet

"They Said It Would Never Happen:"
"A P-3C Ditches with Four Engines Out, All Survive!"
25 March 1995



(snipped a gripping story)

Thanks for posting that. A great read!


  #4  
Old September 22nd 04, 02:52 PM
George Z. Bush
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default


"Scet" wrote in message
...


With all the non - aviation military posts on this group, I thought I'd post
this article. There maybe a few in this group that are actually interested
in Military aviation! Some of you may have read this before. The article
appeared in Foundation Volume 18 Number 1 - Spring 1997
Scet

"They Said It Would Never Happen:"
"A P-3C Ditches with Four Engines Out, All Survive!"
25 March 1995

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
----

While going through the P3 FRS, newly winged aviators have always asked the
question: "Has a P-3 ever lost all four engines at the same time." The
answer was always: "No, it will never happen." Well as Murphy's Law applies,
it can - and we did.
While on deployment and after performing an anti-submarine warfare mission
with the USS Constellation (CV-64) battle group, which was located 200 miles
east of Oman, VP-47 combat aircrew nine was returning to Masirah, Oman. The
flight station crew was composed of LCDR Mark Radice, a lieutenant commander
and a former P-3 FRS instructor who had just checked into the squadron 19
days earlier for his second tour; AE 1 Richard White, the flight engineer;
and me, a senior lieutenant in the squadron with about 273 aircraft
commander hours.
Little did we know that we were about to experience the beginning of what
would eventually be one of the worst P-3 mishap ever. We had just restarted
the number one engine, which was loitered on station to conserve fuel, and
climbed up to an altitude of 16,000 feet for our transit home. At about 130
miles east of the island of Masirah, Oman, the flight engineer noticed that
the number one prop pump warning light on the number four engine was
illuminated. I directed the flight engineer to increase the number four
power lever, which was the first step of our emergency procedure, and it
also ensured that we have a good blade angle.
We then pulled out our NATOPS flight manual commonly referred to as the "Big
Blue Sleeping Pill," and read through the remaining steps of our procedure.
Having a prop pump light in itself was not a big worry, but it could
eventually lead to bigger problems. Approaching 80 miles east of Masirah,
the situation worsened. The second prop pump light on the number four engine
illuminated and the prop began to overspeed. The crew went through the
overspeed procedures, and we determined that the prop was pitch locked. This
malfunction does not occur on a regular basis in the P-3 Orion, so needless
to say, the flight crew's concern and heart rate increased as to what would
happen to the prop when we fuel chopped the engine during our descent to
land.
We flew back to the airfield at 16,000 feet and executed a slow, spiraling
descent to maintain our number four engines rpm at 100 percent. Not knowing
what would happen when we fuel chopped the number four engine, the flight
station went through the descent, approach and three engine landing
considerations checklists. Approaching 6,000 feet and nearing the engine's
limit power setting, we decided to circle the field one last time, extend
out fora good downwind leg and fuel chop the engine in anticipation for our
landing. Unfortunately, we would not get to land at the airfield. Passing
5,600 feet, we heard and felt a tremendous explosion. My co-pilot, who was
in the right seat, looked out and saw a huge cloud of black smoke. To his
utter dismay, when the smoke cleared, he saw the number four prop missing
and the reduction gear box on fire. LCDR Radice called out to shut down the
number four engine and discharge the fire extinguisher.
I was in the left seat, so I was unable to see what was going on. Trusting
his judgment, I concurred with the decision to shut the engine down. The
flight engineer shut down the engine and discharged the fire extinguisher.
LCDR Radice looked out at the engine and the fire was still raging. AE1
White then discharged the second fire bottle. Unfortunately, the fire kept
burning. AE 1 White then called out that the number three engine's rpm was
winding down. LCDR Radice looked out at the number three prop and called out
that the prop are looked bad. It made sense that during the explosion, the
number four engine probably took out the number three engine. We then called
out to shut down the number three engine. While the flight engineer was
pulling the number three emergency shutdown handle, I simultaneously
advanced the number one and number two engine power levers.
Expecting to hear or feel a pitch change in the prop and not getting one,
you can imagine my reaction when I looked out and saw both props barely
rotating. Upon seeing this, I looked back inside the flight station to let
the rest of the crew in on the secret, but AE 1 White beat me to it and
called flameout on number one and two engines.
All of the sudden the flight station went dark due to a total electrical
power loss. Shaking my head with dismay, "saying you've got to be kidding
me," we directed AEI White to pull the hydraulic boost handles and start the
auxiliary power unit in order to get electrical power back. At this time we
were gust locked, which is the same as when your car's steering column locks
up and you can't move it. To say the least, it was not a good feeling. After
the boost handles were pulled, the flight engineer made several attempts to
start the APU, but it kept flaming out. At this point things were really
looking bad for VP-47's crew. When the boost handles were pulled, the
aircraft should have switched from a hydraulic to a mechanical advantage.
For some reason, this didn't occur and we were unable to control the
aircraft. The aircraft rolled right into a 45-50 degree angle of bank and
our airspeed bled off from 260 to 210 knots.
On the flight station we thought that the aircraft was going to stall and
roll inverted. What a horrible gut wrenching feeling it was to think that
this was going to be the end for everyone. I was their aircraft commander
and I as responsible for their well-being. I could not get control of the
aircraft and we did not have time to put on our parachutes to bailout. Even
if we would have had time to don our parachutes, the main cabin door was
facing the sky, which made bailing out impossible.
Up to this point, the entire evolution from engine explosion had taken about
45 seconds. With my heart pounding from being afraid and wanting to save the
rest of the crew, I said a quick prayer. My prayers were answered. The
control column went boost out and unlocked. Finally at about 2,500 feet, we
were able to control the aircraft. We leveled the wings, then continued in a
left hand turn to acquire the airfield. When I saw the airfield 90 degrees
off of our left wing, we were at 2,000 feet and 6-7 miles away from land. A
harsh reality set in -- we were going to have to ditch the aircraft.
Having never heard of or seen NATOPS procedures for a no engine, no-flap,
boost-out ditch, the we had to use gut instinct. We knew that if we flew too
fast, it would be hard to pull the nose up upon water entry. If we flew to
slow, the aircraft would stall soon after leveling off above the water. We
maintained our airspeed between 175-180 knots, which gave us a 1,000 fpm
rate of descent. At this time, as with all life threatening situations, each
crew 7 member's adrenaline system kicked in to its maximum. Fortunately, I
had a great set of parents and a high school football coach who was a former
Oakland Raider all-pro football player who taught me to never quit and find
ways to win. At about 1,200 feet, we told the rest of the crew to prepare
for immediate ditching. At 200 feet approaching water entry, both LCDR
Radice and I started pulling back on the yoke. The nose came up nicely. The
two biggest items necessary to perform a successful ditch is to maintain
wings level and have a shallow rate of descent. At first, we were able to
keep our wings level and get our rate of descent to about 300 feet per
minute. At 80 feet, the right wing started rolling as we slowed down. LCDR
Radice recognized the problem, called for left full yoke and the right wing
came back up. Upon water entry, we were wings level, had a 200 feet per
minute rate of descent and were right at 135 knots. After several skips
across the water and fighting to keep the nose of the aircraft up, the plane
finally came to rest. A P-3 ditch can best be described as being similar to
a log ride at an amusement park, but with more of a kick in the pants.
The amazement of still being alive with the Orion still afloat caught me off
guard, but there was little time for celebration. The water traversed
through the tube of the aircraft and shot into the flight station like
someone pointing a fire hose at us. My co-pi lot and flight engineer
evacuated the aircraft through the overhead escape hatch. I evacuated the
aircraft through the side escape hatch located immediately behind the pilot
seat on the left side. After jumping into the water, I soon realized that
the plane was still drifting like a boat does without power.
To my chagrin, the number two prop was coming right for me and was going to
plow right over me. All that 1 could do was to paddle backwards as fast as I
could to avoid the prop, putting my hands on the prop to push me out of its
way. Fortunately, the aircraft came to a stop and I was able to swim to the
leading edge of the wing between the number one and number two engines. I
called out to LCDR Radice to see if the whole crew made it out of the
aircraft. I was covered from head to toe with aircraft fuel and my eyes were
on fire. My flight gloves were slippery from the fuel and this made it
difficult to climb on top of the wing. After three tries, I was finally able
to climb on top of the wing and reach the my TACCO and in-flight technician.
The rest of the crew evacuated out the starboard side escape hatch and
entered their life rafts. My in-flight tech nician was pulling the ring to
inflate the life raft, but the blasted thing would not inflate.A pilot
friend of mine and his crew were waiting to take off to pick up an admiral
in Bahrain when we hit the water. Shortly after we got into the life rafts,
my buddy flew over and the crew let out a big yell. Once things finally
settled down, the crew looked each other over and checked for injuries. To
my surprise, not a single crew member was injured. The only person with a
problem was me.
Up to this point I had controlled my temper quite well, but this was too
much. After a few choice words directed to the life raft, the only option
left was to inflate our life vests and swim around to the other side.
Realizing our predicament, the crew in the other life rafts began to paddle
around the rear of the aircraft in order to meet us. The three of us joined
the other crew members and climbed into the rafts.
I had fuel in my eyes and they were burning like crazy. My sensor one
operator carried a little water bottle in his life vest. He pulled out the
water bottle and began to pour it in my eyes to flush out the fuel. While he
was taking care of me, my TACCO and second pilot were trying to contact the
other P-3 crew on our PRC-90 radios to let them know of our status.
This day was true to form, because my TACCO went through three radios before
he found one that worked. On the fourth radio, he was finally able to talk
to the other crew to let them know that we were fine.
We were in the rafts for only 10 minutes before the SAR helicopter arrived.
The rescue was uneventful. The helicopter took seven crew members on the
first trip and four crew members on the second trip.
A month later, a barge and crane raised the aircraft and we discovered that
the number four prop had thrown a blade. The imbalance of only three blades
caused the engine to explode. The prop blade was thrown from right to left
and cut through the body of the aircraft, severing 35 of 44 engine and
flight control cables. Four of the cables cut went to the four engines. The
cutting action caused a pulling action which shut down all four engine
simultaneously. The hydraulic boost handle cables were cut and the APU fuel
line was cut. The nine intact cables were two aileron cables, two elevator
cables, two elevator trim tab cables and two rudder trim tab cables.The
co-pilot's main flight control cable was cut. VP-47's crew nine flew under a
lucky cloud that day.
For so many things to So wrong and everything to work out perfectly was a
total surprise to me. I have never questioned the reason we were spared, but
I am glad that we were.


I think that if something like that had ever happened to me, I'd suspect that
God was trying to tell me something and that, having gotten the message, I'd not
only never fly again, I'd probably never get out of bed again as well.
(^-^))))

Nah.....just kidding! Everybody knows that when the hoss tosses you, you've got
to dust yourself off and get right back in the saddle again. Nevertheless, I
think everyone will agree that that was one helluva a pony ride!

George Z.


  #5  
Old September 26th 04, 01:35 AM
tscottme
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

Great story. When I was in college a P-3C was at the airport beside the
school and a couple of alumni were on the aircraft. During a tour of the
aircraft one of them pointed to the parachutes stowed along the cabin wall
and mentioned none of them would ever be used, nobody wanted to jump, they
all seemed to prefer "riding it in." I don't understand that.

I've only been under a sport chute a few times, but I'd take my chances
under a parachute any day than betting I could keep my face off the aircraft
structure during the impact.

--
Scott

What would you call a 51 year old man that marries a 6 year old girl?
Muslims call him Prophet Muhammad.
http://www.faithfreedom.org/Articles/sina/ayesha.htm


  #6  
Old September 26th 04, 08:56 PM
WaltBJ
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

"tscottme" wrote in message ...
Great story.

SNIP:

Great story indeed. Bravo Zulu to Crew 7! A dead-stick ditch in manual
reversion - ugh! Fighters don't have coffee pots and heads but they do
have ejection seats!
Walt BJ
  #7  
Old September 27th 04, 01:09 AM
Ian MacLure
external usenet poster
 
Posts: n/a
Default

"tscottme" wrote in
:

Great story. When I was in college a P-3C was at the airport beside
the school and a couple of alumni were on the aircraft. During a tour
of the aircraft one of them pointed to the parachutes stowed along the
cabin wall and mentioned none of them would ever be used, nobody
wanted to jump, they all seemed to prefer "riding it in." I don't
understand that.

I've only been under a sport chute a few times, but I'd take my
chances under a parachute any day than betting I could keep my face
off the aircraft structure during the impact.


Judging from some of the things I was asked to do for a
P3 flight sim on one occasion, putting the aircraft down on
a handy flat service was not without the realm of possibility and
probably survivable. The Dutch seemed to think so anyhow.

IBM

__________________________________________________ _____________________________
Posted Via Uncensored-News.Com - Accounts Starting At $6.95 - http://www.uncensored-news.com
The Worlds Uncensored News Source

 




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