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View Full Version : Hey pilots: South Pole Rescue



Jim Bow
06-21-2016, 10:57 AM
Are these planes special? Or is it the pilots?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/16/a-rare-risky-mission-is-underway-to-rescue-sick-scientists-from-the-south-pole/

Flying Orca
06-21-2016, 11:05 AM
Both.

The first guy to fly Twin Otters in the high Arctic was Weldy Phipps (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Welland_Phipps), a good friend of my family; his company Atlas Aviation was the forerunner of Kenn Borek. Weldy sold to Borek when he retired. He was the first guy to fly tourists to the North Pole, in his trusty Twin "Whiskey Whiskey Papa" (his initials as well as the plane's registration); his wife Fran was the first woman at the North Pole. When we were in Resolute the first time around, the Phipps family was the only other white family in town. He set the bar for Arctic aviation.

gilberj
06-21-2016, 11:29 AM
There is nothing like experience. A lot of Canadian Pilots fly in Arctic conditions part of the time. While not exactly the same, its far more relevant than time spent flying around Florida or the Bahamas.
The Twin Otter was designed and built for these conditions. There are other aircraft that could do it but not that many.

Jim Bow
06-21-2016, 01:34 PM
60F below and virtually unpredictable weather. Is there an aviation equivalent to "break a leg"? If so, they deserve it.
TV interviewed the C130 pilot who did a rescue a couple of years ago. He pointed out that his patient was able to wait out the winter and the rescue happened in An attic Springtime.

David W Pratt
06-21-2016, 02:37 PM
I'm guessing there is substantial cachet in being a member of the South Pole club

CK 17
06-21-2016, 02:50 PM
My first airline job was flying a twin otter out of Rutland VT. Good plane. Very forgiving. Easy to fly. However, slow as ****.

seanz
06-21-2016, 04:36 PM
Are these planes special? Or is it the pilots?

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2016/06/16/a-rare-risky-mission-is-underway-to-rescue-sick-scientists-from-the-south-pole/

Thanks for the link. I'd not heard about this....and I'm amazed it is happening.

Dan McCosh
06-21-2016, 06:53 PM
Question for pilots: What's the temperature at 35,000 feet in more modest latitudes?

CK 17
06-21-2016, 10:47 PM
^-50C give or take.

Iceboy
06-22-2016, 06:47 AM
Could be. Most folks still think there are polar bears there though.They do make a big deal out of this. They always neglect to tell you that the Navy has flown there in the winter before using the 130 platform. They also flew Winfly down there for years before the Air National Guard took over.
I'm guessing there is substantial cachet in being a member of the South Pole club

epoxyboy
06-22-2016, 05:52 PM
Could be. Most folks still think there are polar bears there though.They do make a big deal out of this. They always neglect to tell you that the Navy has flown there in the winter before using the 130 platform. They also flew Winfly down there for years before the Air National Guard took over.
With the C130, they keep the engines running, and have a very limited time on the ground when they do those winter flights IIRC. Even a flight out of Christchurch NZ to McMurdo mid-winter is something they only do for a damn good reason. The point of no return is a long way from dry land on that one.

Pete

Gerarddm
06-22-2016, 08:31 PM
I heard on NPR today that the plane had only one pilot and that he had to take a ten hour rest break once he arrived. When the time came to leave, they had to manually break free the skiis from the ice. Jeesh.

gilberj
06-22-2016, 09:19 PM
I cannot speak with any authority, but as I understand it the Twin Otter carries a copilot because of its weight, being just over the threshold.
I cannot imagine them breaking flight regulations for a planned rescue.
Even a crew of two would need a break after a 10 hour flight.
Besides who would manage fuel for the flight.

Iceboy
06-23-2016, 07:38 AM
Sometimes they keep the engines running sometimes they tent them with a Preway heater on them. Lockheed only certified the 130 to -65F but the USN has flown them several times at -70f or more to pull people off of the plateau. Every flight from ChCh to Mcmurdo is risky. Even in summer the psr is far from any civilization. They used to always fly in pairs for Winfly and the last flights in February/March. I took that ride at least 9 times in the late 70s. One of the flights was c130 from Pt Mugu all the way to Mcmurdo with several stops on the way. Talk about a sore a$$ from riding in sling seats and loss of hearing for a few days after. Plus they turn the heat in the cabin off as you near the continent and make you don all of your foul weather gear.
With the C130, they keep the engines running, and have a very limited time on the ground when they do those winter flights IIRC. Even a flight out of Christchurch NZ to McMurdo mid-winter is something they only do for a damn good reason. The point of no return is a long way from dry land on that one.

Pete

Dave Hadfield
06-23-2016, 02:31 PM
I've flown with several guys who used to work for Borek and have flown in Antarctica.
Tough place, but the Canadian arctic is the best training ground.
A big risk is the wind at cruise. The TO is not fast, and the distances are large. Very few alternates. So there's a Point of No Return.
Also, GPS coverage can be spotty.
Skis freezing into the snow when you stop is normal. You block them up.

seanz
06-23-2016, 03:02 PM
Very few alternates.

Bit of an understatement.
:)

I think that for the C-17, the alternate is Christchurch.

Zane Lewis
06-24-2016, 06:16 AM
And apparently the flaps froze down, had to be forced manually before takeoff causing a much extended take off roll.
Thought I read that 2 TO's went down to the antartic but only 1 did the 10 hr flight to the pole with the second being held ready in case of an accident. 10 hr flight and max of 12- 13 hours endurance. Would not want a 50 knot head wind to come up 7 hours into the flight
Zane

CK 17
06-24-2016, 08:28 AM
I cannot speak with any authority, but as I understand it the Twin Otter carries a copilot because of its weight, being just over the threshold.
I cannot imagine them breaking flight regulations for a planned rescue.
Even a crew of two would need a break after a 10 hour flight.
Besides who would manage fuel for the flight.
I think your spot on. In the US, it depends on the operation. A twin otter flying jumpers needs only one pilot, a twin otter flying passengers needs two. There is also a weight component. Backin the day, an aircraft heavy enough to require a type rating needed two pilots, but could be reduced to one if stated on the type rating. There are 3 or 4 versions of the twin otter, some are under the limit, some are over. I had a single pilot type for a be-1900 because I conducted a lot of training, back before simulators became common. This is the way it was 20 years ago. . .ymmv

Zane Lewis
06-25-2016, 08:34 AM
Talking about fuel. A quick question or two.
How do they keep the fuel in the tanks from gelling. Heated fuel lines and filters l understand and see in work literature as its not that cold where I am.
But also if they stop for 10 hours do they have to keep oil heaters in the engine lube systems and how do they go about a restart as common battery's don't work well at those temps.
I can see that once you have engine heat that's one thing but starting from that cold??
Zane

CK 17
06-25-2016, 10:22 AM
I'm not aware of any fuel tank heating. My guess is they refueled there with fuel well above the limit, then flew at an altitude that kept it there. The otter carries the fuel in the fuselage. There is no room in the wings. I'm guessing any extra fuel tanks are also there. The the cabin is heated. I'm guessing.

They had blankets around the engines in the pictures. This leads me to believe they used tanis heaters which has installed heating elements which plug in.

i did a minus 40 c battery start once. It wasn't pretty, but it worked. It's highly likely they had an external power unit.

CK 17
06-25-2016, 12:11 PM
It also depends on the fuel used. We use jet-A. The limitations section says nothing about low fuel temperature. There is an ECAM warning at a fuel temp of -43c. At that point you descend and/or increase Mach number. Not an option for the twin otter:D

Old Dryfoot
06-25-2016, 12:42 PM
Tough little planes.

Viking Air will do very well by the Twin Otter. I think they just completed #100 of the 400 series.
They also just purchased the type certificates and inventory for some of Bombardier's water bombers.