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KC-135A

Aircraft

Why devote so much space to an airplane that no longer exists (as a KC-135 "A Model")? Because it was such a difficult airplane to fly and its systems were so backward (by today's standards), that it has many lessons to teach.


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Photo: KC-135A

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  • Accident Case Study: KC-135A 59-1443
  • The KC-135A was a difficult airplane to fly, primarily because of its negative lateral stability and a lack of a yaw damper. Instructors faced a seemingly impossible task of teach young copilots how to manually dampen a Dutch roll with very little experience.

  • Accident Case Study: KC-135A 63-8877
  • After the crash of 59-1443 the Air Force got serious about yaw dampers and the fleet's two crashes per year reduced to about two crashes per decade. But the art of dealing with Dutch roll was lost too. The lesson is to treat aircraft yaw with care.

  • "A Man's Got to Know His Limitations"
  • This is a story about routinely exceeding limitations until it comes back to bite you.

  • Air Refueling Rendezvous
  • This is a story about learning how to rendezvous with a bomber, but it is also a lesson in turn radii.

  • Balance Tabs
  • Balance tabs are an aerodynamic solution to a problem of having to move large control surfaces without hydraulic augmentation. (The KC-135A had no hydraulic pressure to the elevator or ailerons.) You will still find balance tabs in some modern aircraft.

  • "It Ain't Rocket Science"
  • This is a story about figuring climb gradients.

  • KC-135A Takeoff Landing Data Example
  • I have an example here only to illustrate just how difficult getting performance data can be in the days before iPads, laptop computers, and flight management systems.

  • Stability and Control
  • The best way to learn about stability and control is from and airplane that doesn't have a lot of stability and is difficult to control.

  • Water Injection
  • High temperature tolerant materials have made water injection unnecessary in modern engines, but learning about the theory can help you understand your engine's limitations.

  • "You Gotcher Handsfull Buddy!"
  • This is the story about how I learned to understand just how dangerous windshear can be by going through 90 knots of it.

Revision: 20181109
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