The Crash of Independence 08

How rushing an aircraft to war led to corner-cutting that killed four Americans

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Senior Airman Elizabeth Rissmill / Air Force photo

Air Force MC-12W spy planes like this have played a key role in capturing or killing more than 700 high-value insurgents in Afghanistan, the Air Force says.

Sometimes, a 99.96% success rate isn’t good enough. That’s how often the Air Force’s MC-12W Liberty spy planes arrive overhead when needed by U.S. troops on the ground in Afghanistan.

The twin-turboprop planes are modified versions of the Hawker Beechcraft Super King Air 350. Their crew of four includes a pair of pilots and a pair of backseat sensor operators, who funnel video to ground-pounders down below. The fleet has played a key role in the killing or capture of more than 700 high-value insurgents in Afghanistan over the past four years, the Air Force says.

You might think that a mission aboard an unarmed propeller-driven plane, flying lazy orbits and trying to locate and video troublemakers far below, is a relatively simple task in skies filled with bomb-laden jet fighters and missile-firing helicopters.

But you would be wrong.

Even the most mundane-sounding mission can go haywire when the demands of war press a service to develop a needed capability quickly, and to deploy less than optimally-trained pilots to the fight.

(MORE: Losing Ground in Afghanistan)

“The crew of the Mishap Aircraft, call sign Independence 08, were outstanding combat veterans, with impeccable reputations,” the Air Force says in a just-released investigation into an April 27 accident that killed the entire crew. “These four represented America’s best airmen and served numerous rotations in the Middle East putting their lives on the line for our nation.”

The plane took off from Kandahar air field at mid-day. After a 30-minute flight 110 miles northeast, the aircraft began tracing a leftward orbit in the sky, using various sensors to seek out a high-value insurgent that soldiers on the ground wanted to get.

It found him — and bad weather — about 10 minutes later. “Looking at scattered and broken 16-170, plus this giant thing we’re flying around going up to about FL240,” one of the back-seaters radioed at 12:34 p.m. Translation: there were scattered clouds beginning at about 16,500 feet above sea level, and a rapidly-rising towering cumulus cloud reaching to 24,000 feet right in front of them. The rugged terrain down below averaged about 6,000 feet above sea level.

The pilot, sitting in the left front seat of the $20 million plane, began climbing to get try to get out of the clouds. He ordered the climb through the plane’s autopilot, which isn’t completely “auto”: the pilot must manually adjust the plane’s power to maintain airspeed during the climb.

“While or just after initiating the climb, the Mishap Pilot continued working an orbit adjustment to better service tracking an active target,” the probe says. Amid the clouds — with no visual clues outside the cockpit as to speed or orientation — 25 seconds passed before the pilot realized that his plane, like The Little Engine That Could, was slowing down as it climbed.

“The crew’s vision was restricted by clouds near the time of departure from controlled flight and they likely did not have a visually discernible horizon,” the investigation says. “The lack of a visible horizon made it more difficult for the Mishap Pilot to recognize the Mishap Aircraft’s attitude and the loss of airspeed.”

(MORE: Costly Flight Hours)

But eventually the pilot realized what was happening. “A little slow,” he acknowledged. “Correcting.” Too slow, he knew, and the plane could lose the lift that keeps it aloft and begin dropping like a stone.

But even as Independence 08 continued its climb, it had already started down a slippery slope. “From approximately 10 seconds from climb initiation until loss of [communications] feed, the climb rate increases and the airspeed decreases at a rapid rate,” the investigation says. “The Mishap Aircraft airspeed decreased from 150 knots to 116 knots during the final seconds of controlled flight.”

Seven seconds passed before the mission commander, sitting in the right front seat, spoke up. “Alright,” he ordered the pilot, according to a snippet of chatter captured by the cockpit voice recorder detailed in the report, without emotion or punctuation. “Firewall.” That was an order to push the plane’s throttles forward — “through the firewall” — and send more power to the propellers. “Max power, max power.”

This is where Independence 08 entered a perfect aerodynamic storm:

— To avoid the clouds, it was climbing.

— It was already making a left-hand turn, as part of its prescribed orbit.

— To fly the orbit, it was already banked to the left.

— The MC-12W’s props do not spin opposite one another, but in the same direction. Boosting their power tugs the aircraft to the left.

Two seconds after the mission commander called for “max power,” the plane banked at least 50 degrees to the left, setting off an alarm.

Operation Enduring Freedom

Air Force photo / Staff Sgt. Manuel J. Martinez

Inside the cockpit of an MC-12W in Afghanistan.

Four seconds later, the plane’s stall-warning horn sounded, signaling an imminent loss of lift. “Background noise,” the investigation notes, “indicates items flying around within the aircraft.”

At this point, the pilot’s display screen went blank, except for a series of red arrows, pointed upward. “Whoa,” the pilot said. “Pull up.” The airplane most likely had entered a dangerous spin on the verge of becoming a deadly spiral. But pulling up — as directed by the red arrows on the cockpit screen — would only make recovering from either more difficult.

“My aircraft,” the more experienced and senior mission commander said nine seconds later, asserting his right to take control of the plane as it plummeted toward the ground at 134 miles an hour.

“Your aircraft,” the pilot agreed three seconds later, just before the cockpit voice recorder stopped recording. A second indicator showed the plane was now falling at 282 miles an hour.

Five seconds later, the aircraft was diving at 326 miles an hour. “Such rapid acceleration is indicative of an extreme nose-down attitude,” the Air Force investigation says. Twenty seconds later, it had reached an estimated 364 miles an hour. “The Mishap Aircraft lost approximately 15,000 ft before impacting the ground.” The span from initial climb to ultimate crash: 84 seconds.

No one aboard ever gave any thought to bailing out. “There is no crew egress option for an airborne MC-12W,” the probe notes. “There is no evidence the crew attempted to abandon the aircraft.”

But the crew, with a total of 8,824 flying hours, 4,846 combat flying hours, and 836 combat sorties, wasn’t the only party responsible for the accident.

There is an accompanying list of military corner-cutting that often takes place during war.

For starters, 60% of MC-12W pilots are assigned to the craft on a temporary basis. The mission commander had spent his career flying KC-135 Stratotanker refueling planes; the pilot had spent most of his flight time flying the EC-130H Compass Call electronic-warfare plane:

Both pilots were on their first MC-12W deployment and were inexperienced in their roles on the mishap sortie. Their limited recent experience was compounded by the fact that they had not flown together in the past…Inexperience would have made the Mishap Pilot less familiar with the MC-12W, affecting his visual scan and instrument crosscheck proficiency, and making him more susceptible to task saturation while tracking his first target on his first mission. This delayed detection of the pitch, the decreasing airspeed, and the imminent stall. During spin and spiral recovery, inexperience likely caused him to pull vice relax the yoke, and delayed prompt reduction of power. Finally, it was also the Mishap Mission Commander’s first flight as a newly qualified certifier who was just completing his second month of his first MC-12W deployment. This explains his delayed intervention in both preventing the stall and recovering the Mishap Aircraft. Limited weapon system experience is common with MC-12W combat operations due to the high rate of crews temporarily assigned to the platform. This is a result of known program risks.

They initially train in simulators based on the civilian version of the plane, before shifting into MC-12Ws at Beale Air Force Base, Calif., for final training. The simulators are markedly different from the plane they will fly in combat and “both training and aircraft experience affect basic airmanship skills including recognition of and recovery from unsafe aircraft attitudes”:

The MC-12W is physically different, its mission is different, and it is more mentally demanding and challenging than the King Air 350. For example, the MC-12W has over 40,000 additional parts and systems, and different aerodynamic characteristics. It is fitted with extra fuel tanks and an array of antennae and other external equipment, weighs more, and has more drag than the King Air 350. The MC-12W did not undergo normal developmental or operational testing to account for these differences.

There is insufficient training on how to recover from a stall:

This is significant as a typical mission sortie includes substantially more time in orbit than in any other phase of flight, and the orbit is flown relatively close to stall speed. Four previous MC-12W orbit stalls that resulted in significant, near catastrophic altitude loss highlight this limited training. These four near misses occurred in adverse weather and also show why training and experience in weather is important. Training in the often unpredictable weather experienced in Afghanistan cannot be replicated at Beale Air Force Base, where it is largely clear all summer and has mild winter weather…[A lack of training about the proper response to the “pull up” arrows in an emergency also could have] lead to confusion and delayed or improper stall/spin recovery…In either a spin or spiral, these modes can cue the pilot to “pull up,” by pointing towards the horizon, which is the opposite required for proper recovery. In this mishap, the evidence indicates the Mishap Pilot received such a cue and likely pulled on the yoke during the spin.

But all of these shortcomings, the accident probe says, are risks that must be weighed in war:

The MC-12W program was started in 2008 to field immediate Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance capability for combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and went from contract to first combat sortie in 8 months. This urgency led to several aspects of the program not being normalized, which created increased risk, particularly aircrew inexperience and lack of instructors in the combat zone. Most mission commanders are deployed with approximately 20 hours of MC-12W primary flight time. Additionally, numerous aircrews, known as “flow-throughs,” are loaned to the program from other weapon systems for 9 months and then returned to their primary airframe, creating continuous inexperience in the program…With 20 percent of the aircrews rotating in and out of Afghanistan each month, it is not uncommon for pilots to fly together for the first time on a combat sortie, such as happened in this mishap. Unfamiliarity hampers crew coordination, and the Mishap Mission Commander was slow to intervene in this mishap. The result of this program risk is inexperienced MC-12W pilots deployed in combat, and inexperience substantially contributed to this mishap.

Nearly all of Independence 08 ended up smashed inside a 50-meter circle amid rugged Afghan terrain. The right wingtip — subject to the most severe stress during a lefthand spiral — separated from the plane before impact and ended up 500 meters from the crash site.

It took about two hours for U.S. troops to reach, and secure, the wreckage.

Soldiers love the airmen above who help them fight and win. So their report two hours after their arrival came as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed what air superiority can do for grunts on the ground: “4 HEROES RECOVERED.”

62 comments
steveshore
steveshore

The Army has been flying single and twin prop air frames esp Beech King and Queen Airs  for the QRC mission for a heck of lot longer than Liberty and TF ODIN have existed and probably longer than most of the pilots have been alive. 

Randall_Brooks
Randall_Brooks

Here is an example of the loss of control mitigation that appropriate Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) can provide. It is from an actual event offered by an Army C-12 crew: http://apstraining.com/blog/2013/04/10/real-life-saves-surviving-an-ice-induced-airplane-upset/

All unexpected airplane upset events, whether icing related as in the link above, or due to spatial disorientation, autopilot mismanagement, or other causes, share common considerations and underlying recovery principles which can be addressed through comprehensive UPRT.

BigUglyMike
BigUglyMike

I have not flown a King Air - my license is only Commercial for Single Engine Land with an Instrument Rating. I have flown many hours as a Search and Rescue pilot for the Civil Air Patrol.
That being said, as soon as the pilot recognized the need to clime, he should have first leveled the wings, pitch up to the correct attitude (probably between 5 and 8 degrees) and advanced the throttles to maintain adequate airspeed.
If there was any question about aircraft control then the mission is suspended. Rule #1 Aviate - as in fly the airplane.

espike008
espike008

First of all, the ARMY, not the Air Force started this program in Iraq in 2006.  It's called Task Force ODIN and Army pilots and backseaters from active duty and Army Reserve have been doing this mission for years in Iraq and Afghanistan.  ODIN stands for Observe, Detect, Identify, and Neutralize. The ARMY is where the experience is.  The Air Force jumped in years later with the Liberty aircraft and unlike the Army, the pilots were from different airframes.  The Army pilots already were seasoned veterans of the C-12 or Beechcraft Super King Air before deploying to the combat zone.  This accident being described is textbook spacial disorientation.  A classic case of a pilot trying to fly VFR (visual flight rules) in IFR (instrument flight rules) conditions.  Once they were in the clouds, forget the orbit and fly the aircraft!!  Most of visual equipment didn't work that high anyway!!  This accident was pilot error and I feel awful for the families of the fallen, but this mission should have been left with the ARMY.  Period.  AIr Force should stick to cargo and fighter planes.

Randall_Brooks
Randall_Brooks

I work as an advanced flight instructor in the expertise of Upset Prevention and Recovery. We provide training to many pilots flying modified King Air 350 platforms (MC-12s) for both the Army and civilian contractors. At this time we do not provide training for Air Force aircrews.

Although their sensor packages may differ, the base airframe is the same for all three aircraft operators (Army, Air Force, and contractors) and the missions are similar. It is with some pride that I have been able to provide training to many Army fixed-wing aviators. In many cases these pilots, though experienced helicopter pilots, have only recently made the transition to flying fixed-wing aircraft and are immediately being sent into the theatre in the MC-12.

I have had the pleasure of teaching these fine pilots the intricacies of upset recognition and recovery to include various aggravated stalls and spins. I am proud that this training will assist them in their challenging missions. As the son of an Air Force pilot who died on active duty, I wish that we were able to provide the same training to Air Force aircrews. With over 2,000 hours in King Airs myself, I firmly believe that the training that my company provides could have prevented this accident.

Randall Brooks, Aviation Performance Solutions

guest123456
guest123456

April 25th, 2013. Major hailstorm damaged many aircraft in Kandahar. Was this aircraft damaged? Repaired? 

Tom_Thumb
Tom_Thumb

"Four previous MC-12W orbit stalls that resulted in significant, near catastrophic altitude loss highlight this limited training."


Four orbit stalls before...five if you include the accident airplane. I am just trying to wrap my head around that one. If there were four documented orbit stalls there were many more close calls. Yes, the pilots screwed this one up. However, the leadership is almost as responsible. How could the Army have such a systemic problem that was not dealt with?

Yes, training should have been beefed up on how to recover from a deep stall in the clouds. However, there should have been extra training on not getting to the point of a stall to begin with. 

rotorhead1871
rotorhead1871

pilot error......very unfortunate...RIP to all...he forgot rule number one....fly the aircraft!!

seanmc2
seanmc2

This is a truly sad event, but not unexpected in war.  My heart goes out to the families of the "4 Heroes" who perished in this tragic accident. 


That said, I need to put on my professional aviator (38 year+ Certified Flight Instructor) and say that the proximal cause was the pilot's failure to recognize the unusual attitude and correct properly,  the ultimate cause being the pilot's failure to properly control the aircraft's attitude solely by reference to the instruments (basic attitude instrument flying skills), and maintain airspeed while in the climb.  These are very basic instrument flying skills that EVERY military pilot masters long before they get to an operational aircraft and are directly applicable to ANY airplane, regardless of type or operational characteristics.

This is also the same thing that precipitated the Asiana 214 crash at SFO in July of this year.  The pilot's failure to monitor airspeed.  

How did this happen? We will never know exactly what was going through the crew's minds as events (loss of airspeed) unfolded. Were they distracted by something going on in the cabin? Were they busy in conversation? Was something going on that distracted them, or did they simply ignore their airspeed because they were relying on the "George" (the autopilot) to fly the airplane for them.  I do a significant amount of training (and personal) flying in TAAs (Technically Advanced Aircraft) and I ALWAYS stress "don't trust George to do it for you -- monitor the instruments".  I've had autopilot failures, and some that were very subtle such as the heading beginning to creep or the aircraft slowly pitches up (resulting in decreased airspeed), and I always keep an eye on the instruments and maintain both situational and aircraft attitude awareness.


If you fly, and particularly if you're flying TAAs, don't let yourself slip into the habit of trusting George to do it for you.  Fly the airplane, YOU are the pilot-in-command, NOT George.

DrewBuchanan
DrewBuchanan

Disgusting and shoddy reporting. But as those that read Mark's entries of late know that this is to be expected. Sensationalised, contradictory and childish. My how far you've fallen from your Pulitzer, Mark. When I pick up an issue of Time from my local dumpster, this is exactly the type of trash I'd expect to find within. Rotting within a cesspool of sensationalized acrimonious hearsay. 

Our nation's selfless servicemembers deserve better. 

Brewers_Fan7
Brewers_Fan7

My heart goes out to the families and friends of the crew.  That being said, there was a lot that was wrong with this article,  The biggest thing, and it's one that no one has mentioned, is that this program hasn't been nearly as successful as the Air Force likes to claim.  Liberty is one of the least effective and least utilized manned ISR platform in theater, and it has absolutely nothing to do with the capabilities of the aircraft itself.  The Air Force is pretty much just terrible at providing direct support to troops on the ground, and as a result this asset is not in nearly the demand that other manned platforms are, particularly those run by contractors.  

Icansee4miles
Icansee4miles

Sounds like pilot error-not government cutbacks!  

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

"In either a spin or spiral, these modes can cue the pilot to “pull up,” by pointing towards the horizon, which is the opposite required for proper recovery. In this mishap, the evidence indicates the Mishap Pilot received such a cue and likely pulled on the yoke during the spin."

The first sentence is contradictory. "Stick forward," to recover from a stall, is flying 101 and so the instruments are not telling the pilot to "pull up," simply that they are stalling and losing altitude. So I doubt that an experienced pilot with thousands of hours would have made the mistake of pulling the yoke in a stall (he could see his airspeed). They had already stalled. Also, if the plane finally achieved between 282 and 364 mph of airspeed, that's plenty to recover from a stall. What started as a stall ended with flying the plane into the ground, with probably only seconds to right the plane and pull out.

Airman3901
Airman3901

There are tens of thousands of hours of history with this aircraft with these mods. And these were not unusual conditions in the theater. Bottom line: War is hell.

Rocktd
Rocktd

These  mods that were done to the aircraft might have contributed to this crash. A normal King Air has been though a ton of tests during it's certification. Was any testing done to see if the flight characteristics have changed? Does it stall at the same numbers? Does normal spin recovery technics apply? This testing costs big bucks and takes time. These steps might have been skipped? Getting the aircraft slow was not a good thing.

Stang70Fastback
Stang70Fastback

This article seems heavily biased in that it appears to attempt to blame - at least in part - the aircraft for the crash. In reality, if you read the article, it becomes apparent that the cause of the crash was entirely due to pilot error...

Hubert39
Hubert39

Interesting story. But remember, we the USA are the invaders in this part of the world.

These people like the people of Vietnam were and are fighting for their homeland, resources,

heritage, families, future, religion, etc. Our troops are fighting for a monthly pay check. And the big oil companies.

Who usually wins??  

Rocktd
Rocktd

First off RIP to the crew.

In a previous life I used to teach spin training. I fault pilot training in general. For many reasons both civilian and military just don't teach enough spin training. I far as I know once you get your ticket that's the last time you will have this training. I would think if your flight envelope involves slow flight you might want to be prepared for a stall/spin. Just knowing that your aircraft will spin under certain conditions is not good enough! I think all pilots should practice spins in a certified aircraft on some kind of regular basis. I know military pilots get much better training  than civilian pilots. Civilian pilots today if they were to spin one of their stall proof aircraft it would be bad. Nothing beats the real deal, a spin in a sim just isn't the same.

This is a serious issue and shouldn't be made light of. (little engine that could) That's just BS and has no part of this story!!!!!

BL5601
BL5601

@espike008 I worked directly with the MC12 Liberty program in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I also supported TF Odin a few times when they reached out to our program. I can tell you first hand that the TF Odin program, including the aircraft they fly, don't hold a candle to the MC12 Liberty program and it's assets. After stepping foot onto those beat up Odin planes, I felt like I stepped back in time or something. MC12 Liberty was created in direct response to urgent requests from ground combat commanders for an improved ISR platform .The result was the fastest military acquisition since the P-51 Mustang in World War II. In 3 years Liberty flew 20,016 combat sorties and 100,323 combat hours with just FOUR maintenance cancels. Not sure if you're familiar with mission reliability rates or not, but those are huge numbers. Not to mention the program has been nominated 3 out of the last 4 years for the Collier Trophy. Odin obviously wasn't providing enough support to the war fighting effort, so the Air Force stepped up to the plate and kicked ass. Granted, we didn't start the program, but we now OWN the mission of QRC ISR. Cargo and fighter planes, huh? 

MarkThompson_DC
MarkThompson_DC

@guest123456 From the accident report (linked in the story above at the word "investigation" in the 6th graf altho' it's tough to see the link): "There was hail damage from a storm that occurred on 22 April 2013 identified on the left wing, nose, and fuselage. There were documented repairs on the fuselage and nose, but not on the wing. Although the damage on the wing was deemed by competent engineering authorities to be within limits, such a disposition should have been annotated in the forms. However, this discrepancy was administrative in nature, and, as the appropriate engineering authorities declared the dents to be within limits, did not affect the physical airworthiness of the aircraft."

999hart
999hart

@seanmc2 It does, in fact appear to be a classic case of pilot error with the airframe/crew experience as contributing factors.  I would say, however that the "flying pilot's" situational awareness (failure to monitor airspeed) was the primary cause.  Most likely this happened because he chose an autopilot mode that commanded a rate of climb or attitude that could not be maintained with the power setting he manually set.  The autopilot did exactly what it was told to do, maintain the climb rate or attitude.  The pilots failure to monitor the airspeed led to the stall and departure from controlled flight.  That said, training and experience were also factors, as was the airframe.

I am a retired Army Aviator with many years flying similar Beechcraft airplanes modified to do these missions.  They all operate at higher gross weight than their civilian counterparts, but as airplanes go these are safe, easy to fly airplanes that don't have nasty dispositions.

As pilot assignments go, this is probably not a desirable one for an Air Force guy and they want in and out as soon as possible to go back to their primary aircraft.  This leads to lack of experience in type.  I have seen this first hand in many of the Joint Army/Air Force assignments I have had.  Joint meaning Army guys flying Air Force airplanes and vice versa. They don't like flying little airplanes as a general rule.

JohnbGood55
JohnbGood55

Least effective and least utilized? The MC-12 accounts for 60% of the ISR in Afghanistan and is often directly requested by GFCs. Sounds like it's pretty effective and utilized quite a bit...

It was one of the last aircraft out of Iraq and will likely be one of the last still lest in Afghanistan as well.

Airman3901
Airman3901

@Brewers_Fan7 O.K. Please state your source for your "least effective and least utilized" information. Otherwise, I don't believe it and it has no credibility.


marks320
marks320

@shepherdwong Sounds like the system on this aircraft WAS telling the pilot to pull up due to a nose low attitude, ignoring the fact that the aircraft was stalled.  Granted, a complete grasp of what was happening SHOULD have resulted in a forward application of yoke to recover from the stall but having a system on your primary flight display commanding you to do the opposite was, at the very least, confusing, at worst, a major contribution to the accident.  The resultant high airspeed was attained after the airplane was established in an extreme nose low spiral and in excess of its design max speed, a pull up would almost certainly result in the shedding of wings or horizontal stabilizer.  We'd like to think that a glance at airspeed would lead to proper corrective action but an extreme nose low attitude depicted on the PFD has been known to cause very experienced pilots to react improperly.

jjwiggs
jjwiggs

@Hubert39  

Our troops fight for FREEDOM, not a paycheck.  They fight for you and for your right for Freedom of Speech, which you have used to display your ignorance about a matter you clearly have no clue or knowledge of.  In my humble opinion, instead of insulting these brave men and women who protect us, support them but most of all HONOR them and what they fight for, especially the ones who paid the ultimate sacrifice for our FREEDOM! 

Thank you to the brave souls who FIGHT and SERVE our country.

Airman3901
Airman3901

@Hubert39Thank God this country has never  had to depend on your ilk for guts. I see your type often, unfortunately. A gutless little man that must denigrate the troops to justify your cowardice. I knew these guys and and am as proud of them as I am ashamed of you.

MarkThompson_DC
MarkThompson_DC

@Rocktd The "little engine" reference was simply an attempt to help the reader visualize what was happening to the plane -- as it was climbing, it was slowing down. It was in no way intended to "make light" of the event.

guest123456
guest123456

@MarkThompson_DC @guest123456Thanks for the link. Clearly airspeed control was an issue. Climbing with an autopilot in vertical speed mode can lead to airspeed decay. Airspeed hold mode a better option in the climb. Not having much time in the aircraft in quite a while, technical flying with a narrow margin for error, in a combat zone, etc. Lots of things working against them.

guest123456
guest123456

@MarkThompson_DC @guest123456 I saw quite a few aircraft with control surfaces and wings off for repair after the storm. Aircraft skins looked like the were beaten with hammers. I wouldn't call such damage administrative in nature or not affecting airworthiness. A wing or control surface with a "golf ball" like surface could affect aerodynamics. There is always a push in aviation to get aircraft flying asap. Not saying this was a contributing factor but it crossed my mind. Before flying any of those aircraft I would have liked to do a test flight in VFR weather. Asses slow speed aircraft handling and stall characteristics.

seanmc2
seanmc2

@999hart Yup!! Transitioning from type to type is all the more reason for being vigilant.  I move from one aircraft to another on a somewhat regular basis (my primary machine is a BE36 with a glass panel), but move between that and the 300/400 series Cessna (310, 401, 421, 425), and back to some "simple" airplanes.  It might seem odd to some, but the "simple" machines (C172/182, PA28, BE76) can be the most challenging in IMC.  

In all cases, one must ALWAYS monitor the gauges and (as I've said before) NEVER trust George.


Happy flying brother 

Sean (ex-USAF)

NorCal_Vet
NorCal_Vet

@JohnbGood55 Brewers_Fan7 sounds more like a Guardrail guy upset that the Air Force is doing it better and more effectively since most of the Army and SOF personnel won't go without direct MC-12 support.

Brewers_Fan7
Brewers_Fan7

@Airman3901 @Brewers_Fan7 As you may or may not be aware there are metrics available that quantify things like the number of direct support actions supported, overall flight hours and requests for support.  Check into this yourself and compare it against some of the other assets currently deployed in theater and you'll see Liberty isn't even close.  This, despite the program being far larger and with far more aircraft.  

This program was also far more expensive than it's counterparts.  The airplanes are well built but cost two and a half times what the comparable Army airplanes cost.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@marks320  "We'd like to think that a glance at airspeed would lead to proper corrective action but an extreme nose low attitude depicted on the PFD has been known to cause very experienced pilots to react improperly."

Agreed, the instrumentation was lousy, and that this happens all the time - a panic reaction (like target fixation on a motorcycle). As to your point about wing shredding: "[t]he right wingtip — subject to the most severe stress during a lefthand spiral — separated from the plane before impact and ended up 500 meters from the crash site...," perhaps the pilot tried to do the right thing, alas, too late.

AlbertWedworth
AlbertWedworth

In my Opinion, America hasn't fought for Freedom since WW 2. I My Self Thank God We all don't think the same.  Some have have taken better to the brain washing more than others. Cheers.


marks320
marks320

@jjwiggs @Hubert39 A very good case could be made that this country has not fought a single military action since WWII for our "freedom".  Accepting that premise in no way denigrates the troops.  It does, however, point the finger directly at our government and military leaders who, in many cases, too willingly committed these honorable troops to a battle that couldn't be "won" or had no exit strategy.  A certain percentage of our troops DO enlist because they need a job, a "paycheck", possibly a large percentage.  To deny this is disingenuous.  However, to accuse ALL troops of this motivation is just as wrong.  I'd be willing to bet that a significant percentage of the troops serving in Afghanistan believe that the mission is a waste of our effort and resources, not to mention, lives.  So let's not be too casual about throwing around the phrase "fighting for our freedom" because, in many cases, the actual reason for the military action is far less noble.  By the way, I'm a veteran, so if you feel the need to eat your own, go ahead with the references to guts, patriotism, ignorance, and the other traits of my ilk.

Icansee4miles
Icansee4miles

@jjwiggs @Hubert39 Patriotism?  Some soldiers.  A Job? Some soldiers.  For the Adventure?  Quite a few of them fight for the rush of being shot at, and to kill someone-to enjoy being a warrior.  These flag waving patriots know this as well.

findlayj09
findlayj09

@Airman3901 @Hubert39 I'm not sure if he's denigrating the troops so much as the policies that sent them. Enlisting is certainly honorable but what soldiers are ordered to do isn't always.

NorCal_Vet
NorCal_Vet

@MarkThompson_DC @Rocktd Nice to see that you follow-up on your story.  By the way, I guessing that you are unaware that the "extra fuel tanks" are factory made, off the shelf, standard extended range tanks that ANY King Air 350 can have?  Also the little engine reference was an incredibly childish reference to what was happening and severs the memory of these Airmen in no way shape or form.  The 99.96% mission rate is ridiculously high compared to anything the Air Force has in its fleet.  These planes have a great safety record and it’s unfortunate that this incident happened.  It wasn’t corner cutting it was training, pure and simple.

NorCal_Vet
NorCal_Vet

@guest123456 @MarkThompson_DC I personally know  that this A/C was not on it's first mission post storm.

carter2000a
carter2000a

@Brewers_Fan7 @Airman3901 brewers_fan7 you know nothing of the cost I've worked for the manufacture of these aircraft. the army flies king air 200 modified just like the king air 350 the training that is received is the same for both services and the conditions that they were flying in is what caused this accident not the crew. most would not fly in the conditions that were present but they did it in order to support the troops on the ground. they lost their lives and god gained 4 heros nuff said

Airman3901
Airman3901

Damn right I'll wave it. And your claim is 99% bull$hit. Sure there's a few headcases in the military but so are there in Law Enforcement. But they are the exception. I'll wave the flag with the majority of the troops every time. I see you as just another chicken$hit that envy the bravery of the troops. Probably one of them took your girlfriend at sometime.

AirForceVet
AirForceVet

@Airman3901 @findlayj09 I agree with Airman3901 having been an Air Force linguist and having gone to school with one of the members of this flight personally, they weren't there for a paycheck.  If a linguist with a security clearance is just looking for a paycheck they become civilian contractors, better pay, better lifestyle.  It disgusts me to no end what people who have no clue what they are talking about chime in about.  If you want to discuss the crash in an intelligent, questioning manner thats one thing but to attack the integrity of the Airmen aboard is petty.


Airman3901
Airman3901

@findlayj09 BS Findlay - He directly said they were fighting for a monthly pay check. Maybe you should read again. Again, I knew these guys personally - they damn well believed what they were doing was honorable. And they were sharp. If they just wanted a monthly paycheck, they could have done far better as civilians. Wise up before you decide to become an apologist for  his ilk. However, I suspect a little of it in you.