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Pilly
04-27-2012, 07:42 PM
Hi,
I'm working on a story that has a part in it where a guy with only a little flying time in Piper Cubs and like that has to fly a Jet Plane. I know it's been done to death ( the movie Airplane) but it is part of my story.
I know it is possible with one of the new computerised airplanes, but my story is set in November 1963, so I'm wondering if it was possible with the old jets like the Boeing 707 or the Convair 990?
Maybe someone knows a good aviation forum to ask in? !

Drachen Jager
04-27-2012, 08:38 PM
They did this on Mythbusters.

Both Jamie and Adam crashed. If I remember the episode correctly one of them does have some actual flight training and they had a radio operator talking them down.

Look it up on Youtube.

Pilly
04-27-2012, 08:50 PM
Thanks Drachen jager.
I've seen that episode. There's two problems with it re my story.
The plane they used was one of the modern computerised ones (an Airbus 320 if I am not mistaken) and neither one of them had any flying experience. My guy would be a small plane pilot of the period. Maybe with a private licence.
But that does kind of indicate which way this might go. i might have to think up something else. :(

rsiquet
04-27-2012, 09:29 PM
Hi,
I'm working on a story that has a part in it where a guy with only a little flying time in Piper Cubs and like that has to fly a Jet Plane. I know it's been done to death ( the movie Airplane) but it is part of my story.
I know it is possible with one of the new computerised airplanes, but my story is set in November 1963, so I'm wondering if it was possible with the old jets like the Boeing 707 or the Convair 990?
Maybe someone knows a good aviation forum to ask in? !

Hi Pilly,

If you had someone on the radio that could assist the guy, and he's got basic aviation experience, then its believable that he could pull it off. I think the challenge with a jet is not so much flying it, as understanding all the controls and procedures that would need to be followed to make a safe landing, etc. It's mainly the complexity that I'd be worried about - comparing a Cessna to a Jet is kind of like comparing a rowboat to an aircraft carrier.

I would suggest you're on the right track with thinking about asking in an aviation forum.

You could also just grab a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator and give it a whirl on your own ;-)

Good Luck!

Pilly
04-27-2012, 09:38 PM
Hi Pilly,

If you had someone on the radio that could assist the guy, and he's got basic aviation experience, then its believable that he could pull it off. I think the challenge with a jet is not so much flying it, as understanding all the controls and procedures that would need to be followed to make a safe landing, etc. It's mainly the complexity that I'd be worried about - comparing a Cessna to a Jet is kind of like comparing a rowboat to an aircraft carrier.

I would suggest you're on the right track with thinking about asking in an aviation forum.

You could also just grab a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator and give it a whirl on your own ;-)

Good Luck!

Hhe Good suggestion. i did try it on flight sim and really found all of them hard, but i have no training. you could be right about the complexity, but I was hoping the guy ( and his friend, to traise the landing gear and what not) might be able to figure it out from what little they knew. Someone on the radio isn't really an option as they would be on the run from the evil doers.
I'll have another look for an aviation forum and hope I don't just get laughed out of the place!

WriteKnight
04-27-2012, 10:54 PM
If they don't have someone on the radio, talking them through it - I'd say the chance of a successfull landing of a multi-engined commercial jet airliner - with minimum single engine experience - is almost zero. Just finding out how to control the engines, understanding stall speed for the aircraft, knowing the proper landing speed, flap controls, reverse thrust procedures.... yeah, it MIGHT be possible with two people in the cockpit, someone talking a minimum hour pilot through the approach and landing - SEVERAL TIMES - but I wouldn't believe it in a book.

Buffysquirrel
04-28-2012, 03:39 AM
A Boeing 707 would have had four crew members. I'm thinking pilot, co-pilot, navigator and flight engineer. If you only have a pilot with Piper Cub experience, I think you're in trouble :). Who's going to manage the fuel systems?

cbenoi1
04-28-2012, 05:33 AM
> a guy with only a little flying time in Piper Cubs

Forget it.

Small aircrafts used VFR (Visual Flight Rules, aka looking at terrain for navigation) whereby commercial jets used IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) through radio beacons and radials. If you haven't been trained in IFR, you'll never find the landing strip, let alone keep the beast within the correct approach parameters for landing.

Test pilots are your best alternatives for your scenario. They can get a feel for any unknown aircraft rapidly based on thousands of hours on a multitude of aircrafts.

The guy could, in theory, stall the plane at low altitude over water and hope for the best. It happened along the Africa coast a while back - pirates ran out of fuel and landed a full body aircraft near the coastal line. The water prevented explosions and fires, but it drowned quite a few. Only a handful of passengers survived. Better than nothing.

ETA: You can watch it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tZyDrpeWoBw

-cb

Hallen
04-28-2012, 06:25 AM
For a guy with a little flight experience, he's going to be able to point the thing where he wants and handle the basic control of the aircraft. That's the first step. The basic controls are all in the same place, but after that, things get dicey. If he has some help on the radio to configure the aircraft for landing, then he has a small chance of doing it.

He'll need to slow the airplane down. Then he'll need to dirty it up by incrementally getting the flaps down. Once he's slow enough, he'll need to get the gear down.

If he's in visual conditions, then he'll need to line up on the runway, hopefully a long way out, and start to descend. (He'll probably be stepped down from cruise to about 5k feet prior to this). Once he's lined up, he'll do final configurations, if any more are needed. Again, he'll have to help over the radio for that part (hell, I'd need help and I have thousands of hours of helicopter and complex multi-engine airplane time).

It's possible that the airport he's going to will have a PAR system (Precision approach Radar)given the timeframe of your story (they aren't used these days). I used to fly these from time to time. The controller on the ground will give you precise instructions to help adjust heading and altitude. Once you have your inbound heading set, lets say 270, you put the bug on the RMI and then the controller will tell you "turn left 3 degrees" or whatever he needs. You do that and hold it until he tells you something else. He'll also give you instructions like "slightly above glide path, reduce power" or "on glide path, and holding". So, if a PAR is available, then it's a great way to go for a novice, even in clear conditions. The pilot will still mostly be "outside", in other words, looking out the window, but ANY pilot knows how to check speed and heading using the instruments.

The biggest issue will be the final landing sequence. Those old jets had horrible lag in the engine response. You'd apply power and count to about 5 before the engines would give it to you. Therefore, you really have to plan ahead. This will be the thing that gets him if anything does.

There will be no flair in the landing. He'll hold an attitude of about 5 to 10 degrees nose up and use power to control his rate of descent. Again, a private pilot should be able to handle this. If he can keep it lined up, he'll just fly the aircraft into the runway. It won't be pretty or graceful, but it is the easiest thing to do (think a carrier landing without the hook or moving ship). Flaring and touching down nicely is for the pros. This guy will have no idea what the sight picture looks like and he'll hit the ground without realizing he's that close. He may have a tendency to undershoot because of that.

Once on the ground with the mains, he'll have to gently set the nose down. Once that's done, he'll need to brake with the toe brakes (mounted on top of the rudder pedals) and carefully apply reverse thrust. Depending on the length of the runway, he may not need reverse and that would be good because if you don't do it right, you can spin off the runway.

That's about it. It is possible to do, but things can get out of control quickly. If he gets too off line, he can "go around" and try again. He'll be very overwhelmed so whoever is talking to him must keep it simple (that's why we configured the airplane way before he lined up on the runway -- get it out of the way so he can concentrate on pointing the plane the right way and keeping the greasy side down)

But, those old jets did have flight engineers for a reason. Managing the fuel systems and other systems took an extra crew member. So, don't plan on having him flying around too long. You could put a flight attendant (stewardess back then), handle that part on a different radio channel with somebody else.

That's my advice. He's got about a 10% chance of not balling it up, but it is possible. If he had no flight experience, forget it. It will be messy. (no, flying is not easy. Those people up front earn every penny the get)

debirlfan
04-28-2012, 07:17 AM
Try the forum at pprune.org - that's where the airline pilots hang out. Explain that you're working on a bit of fiction, and that you'd like to get it right (they react well to flattery.) :)

Bing Z
04-28-2012, 07:49 AM
I have never been in the cockpit of a real aircraft, but I have driven a Lockheed Tristar simulator, aided by the simulator engineer. I don't remember the details, but the take off was a snap. The fun came when I landed. I crashed the simulator so hard the main frame computer crashed and needed a cold boot. Since then I never believed a thing in those emergency piloting movies.

Al Stevens
04-28-2012, 08:24 AM
One difficult task for a small craft pilot in a big bird is planning how much real estate is needed to effect a standard turn. Another is estimating visually how far above the runway you are and need to be.

Your story would be more believable if the pilot had some kind of heavy equipment experience. Maybe B-17 or similar time from his years in the military.

Prophetsnake
04-28-2012, 10:33 AM
I agree the chances are slim. The 707 in particular is a handful. It's also a flight engineer's airplane. you could fly one without an engineer, but you'd best know what you're doing, and since your guy does not, his chances are zero. As someone pointed out the JT3s on the airplne have a long spoolup time, the airplane is not speed stable on the approach, and the flght controls are via servo tabs. Imagine driving a cr at 150 mph with a steering system that lags a second or so behind your commands and you'll get the significance of that.
The convair is even less likely. the airplane has outrageous approach speeds for various reasons, plus all of the problems above. Even with someone on the end of a radio ( and you said that was not possible) these would be difficult aircraft to fly.
He might be able for a straight wing piston aircraft of the era if he didn't have to fly too far. DC6 or something. Even that would be a handful for a low time light plane pilot. I'd rate his chances of making a successful approach with some help at maybe 50% or less. Without, 5% and that's being very optimistic.
Aer Lingus lost an airplane on a training flight when the training captain was suspected of having a heart attack. The two trainees on board had done ground school on the airplane and had both qualified as instrument rated commercial pilots prior to that flight ( Vickers Viscount, a four engine turboprop) They failed to keep even basic control of the airplane and speared it into the ground miles form the airport. That airplane would be easier to fly than a 707 by several magnitudes.
However, if you can make it plausible, it would be a hit amongst private pilots. Every one of them dream of the day when both guys up front have the fish and the hostie comes back to the cabin and says. "Can anyone here fly a plane?" The hero looks around and realizes it is all down to him...

Pprune is a good place to sort it out though. Well, depending on who bites!

Al Stevens
04-28-2012, 06:26 PM
Read this to see how Arthur Hailey handled it:

http://www.amazon.com/Runway-Zero-Eight-Arthur-Hailey/dp/0440175461

bernster
04-29-2012, 04:24 AM
I spent several years working making top-end flight simulators, everything from single engine props to the wide bodies. We had lots of pilots who would hop in the sims to try their hands at landings. Though I'm not a pilot, I've spent many, many hours flying sims.

About half of these pilots could land a widebody first time; most of the rest might take a couple go-arounds, but got the hang of it and could make a good landing. Of course, this is not a fair comparison because they started out on final, maybe 7 miles or so out, line up with the runway, no wind, aircraft already trimmed out, etc. And these guys had years of experience, and they already knew where the landing gear handle is, the need for flaps, how to adjust flaps, speed brakes, etc. And the systems were automated, and there was no 2nd officer's station, etc.

You haven't mentioned what configuration the a/c is in when your MC gets ahold of it. Was it out of control and in a dive? Was the A/P on? How far did he have to fly it to reach the airport? What altitude was he at? How about the landing...any crosswinds? Gusts? How was visibility? Day or night? How long of a runway did he have? How heavy was the plane when landing?

IMO, if he can't get radio guidance, the best he might do is to belly it in, as he won't be able to figure out the flaps, landing gear, speed brake, etc. on his own. Maybe with radio guidance he could fly it around a few times and learn its feel and get it in. Of course, if he has to fly it a far distance, then he's got to deal with the systems stuff. The newer aircraft have automated systems; the older ones had to have stuff turned on/off manually, and this was done behind where the captain+F/O sat.

I can't give a yes/no answer without knowing all the particulars. But this leads to the greater question: have you considered all these factors I've mentioned? I think you should start there and see where it leads you. In any case, it doesn't look good for the MC.

Pilly
04-30-2012, 09:22 AM
Oh he would have to do the whole flight, basically stealing the plane.
I can see that it's nearly impossible I guess. He can't talk to anyone either.
I think I have a solution though. If he were to have an injured pilot with him, probably blinded, to talk him through the whole thing? Maybe do some of the stuff for him?

Tia!

Prophetsnake
04-30-2012, 09:49 AM
Oh he would have to do the whole flight, basically stealing the plane.
I can see that it's nearly impossible I guess. He can't talk to anyone either.
I think I have a solution though. If he were to have an injured pilot with him, probably blinded, to talk him through the whole thing? Maybe do some of the stuff for him?

Tia!

Actually, that might work pretty well. There are still a lot of problems, though.
A real big one is the 707 (well most of them) doesn't have an Auxiallry Power Unit, which you'd start the engines with. You need an air cart to start up. having said that, a small percentage of them did have them.
Most DC8s had them though. Similar airplane. The Convair, I dunno, but it was probably sans APU as well. This would mean involving some ground crew to get the air cart to the airplane and unplug it after starting at least one engine. If you re stealing it, that's a problem. But, like I said, some of those machines did have APUs so it is not beyond the realms of possibility that you would have one on the airplane. You could make a bit of a big deal about it, your blind guy finding the start switch on the panel and sighing relief that they have one.

Even in 1963 the requirement for a flight plan would be a issue. having said that, the tower would probably accept one at startup if the crew lied and said they were going local for some reason. that wouldn't happen nowadays, but it would be perfectly possible even in a place like Idlewild back then. (I'm presuming it would not be called JFK until after your book's time frame! ;) )

All of these aircraft are three crew. Pilot, co-pilot and flight engineer. You could easily fly one without a flight engineer, though the blind guy whould have to do his work as well as help your low timer fly the airplane. Not impossible, but his workload would be ferocious. He'd need to know the airplane well. Be quite experienced.
You do NOT need a navigator unless you're going oceanic. The navigation portion and instrument flying portion would not be too much of an issue with your onboard expert to help. The 707's autopilot is crap, but it would serve to keep your guy out of trouble in the climb, cruise and descent. An autopilot of that vintage will not handle the airplane very well on approach or departure, though. So the weather would have to be good at departure and destination for him to have any realistic chance. Enroute you could give him some small problems. Jets don't really have issues with airframe icing, by the way, so leave that out or any jet driver will throw the book down at that point (it isn't impossible, just very unusual) if you need some excitement enroute I'd suggest you have plenty just having your blind guy trying to figure out navigation.
Radar and ATC would not be that much of an issue in those days. In any case, your blind pilot could get them wherever they needed to go. An important thing to understand about ATC ( which seldom comes across in film) is that they are there to clear the way for you, not fly the airplane for you. So if you tell them what you want to do, they will give you a clearance, which really just means the way is safe and clear. Once airborne he could easily say "Change of plan, company wants us in (wherever) and ATC would work it out for you. Post 2001, different story, but in '63, easy.
I'd still only give 'em 50/50, but hey; James Bond has a Beretta and shoots a hundred guys with machine guns dead without getting a scratch. Suspension of disbelief will reign supreme here, but it's do-able.

And by the way, simulators are no real guide to flying any kind of airplane in real life. Even the modern sims and certainly not MSFS
They're good for procedural things, but that's about it. And simulators in that period were very primitive; no motion, and visuals were a new thing entirely, so it is extremely unlikely your protagonist would have been exposed to one.

Hope this helps!

Pilly
05-01-2012, 04:16 AM
Wow! A lot to think about alright. I've got something I can start working on anyhow.

Fullback
05-01-2012, 06:32 AM
The odds of your character pulling it off 50 years ago would have been much longer than today. There is a wealth of knowledge on the Internet today and virtually every pilot or wannabe pilot has tried computer simulators. Fifty years ago was much different.

I would say the odds are about the same as winning the lottery. If you're character is a hero, then he'd win, wouldn't he? People win lotteries across the world every week.

Prophetsnake
05-01-2012, 09:55 PM
It might help if you laid out the actual requirements for the flight. from where to where, the actual type of character the amateur pilot is and how much experience he is likely to have. You don't have to give the plot away, just give some idea of what he needs to do with a kind of hint as to why.

Hallen
05-02-2012, 12:47 AM
Even in 1963 the requirement for a flight plan would be a issue. having said that, the tower would probably accept one at startup if the crew lied and said they were going local for some reason. that wouldn't happen nowadays, ...

Jets don't really have issues with airframe icing, by the way, so leave that out or any jet driver will throw the book down at that point (it isn't impossible, just very unusual)

Jets do have issues, like all aircraft, with icing. Most all of them have anti-icing equipment on the plane. Heated leading edge of the wing is the most common. The advantage that pressurized jets have is their ability to rapidly climb up through the icing region and then to rapidly descend back through them again on the way down. Icing only happens in a range from the surface to about 20,000 ft (depending on conditions). Once above that, you won't pick up more ice. Usually, the icing zone is only a few thousand feet thick, so it's pretty easy to fly through it in a jet. However, if you fly into something like freezing rain, good luck to you no matter what aircraft you're in.

Flight plans are not required, even today, for VFR flights. It's wise to file a VFR flight plan with Flight Service in case you crash, but it's by no means required. If the book has the character stealing the airplane, then they can taxi out and take off, even at a controlled airfield, with no flight plan if the pilot chooses to do so. The size of the airplane doesn't really matter.

Prophetsnake
05-02-2012, 01:00 AM
Jets do have issues, like all aircraft, with icing. Most all of them have anti-icing equipment on the plane. Heated leading edge of the wing is the most common.
Yes, they have hot wings, but it's seldom used. Icing is contingent on the size and temp of the droplets, inertia being critical to formation. Added to the shape of the airfoil and the temp of the wing, airframe icing on jets is rare.
The engines are another matter, fans ice up easily and can be damaged or even flame out due to icing.


The advantage that pressurized jets have is their ability to rapidly climb up through the icing region and then to rapidly descend back through them again on the way down. Icing only happens in a range from the surface to about 20,000 ft (depending on conditions). Once above that, you won't pick up more ice. Usually, the icing zone is only a few thousand feet thick, so it's pretty easy to fly through it in a jet. However, if you fly into something like freezing rain, good luck to you no matter what aircraft you're in.

Nope, Even cruising around in the hold at, say 5,000' with the TAT at -5 it is rare to get airframe ice in most swept wing aircraft.
So much so that the bleed valves that control it need a little extra attention to clean the cobwebs out.



Flight plans are not required, even today, for VFR flights. It's wise to file a VFR flight plan with Flight Service in case you crash, but it's by no means required. If the book has the character stealing the airplane, then they can taxi out and take off, even at a controlled airfield, with no flight plan if the pilot chooses to do so. The size of the airplane doesn't really matter.

True, but nowadays taxiing a large airplane anywhere but a desert strip is not going to happen without some considerable interest. Back then, not a problem.
it woudl depend on what the departure airfield would be. In any case, filing with the tower would not have been a problem back then. Now, not so much for a fast airplane at altitude. Slots..

Pilly
05-02-2012, 06:43 AM
Well, I don't think I need to give him a whole heap of drama anyhow. As you say, prophet, he will have enough to think about.
The idea is that they will be taking off right after another plane flying from Dallas to d.c. They need to beat the other plane. Can that be done?
I really appreciate the help!

triceretops
05-02-2012, 06:58 AM
If he was instrument and multi-engine rated, plus had an instructor's license, he might be able to pull it off in pristine weather conditions.

Prophetsnake
05-02-2012, 08:02 PM
The idea is that they will be taking off right after another plane flying from Dallas to d.c. They need to beat the other plane. Can that be done?
I really appreciate the help!

What's the other type of airplane? if it's slower, then yes, if it's another airliner, then they all go about the same speed, at least the airplanes of the era did. The 727 was pretty quick. the Convair 880 was even faster and the 990 was the fastest of its day.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convair_990_Coronado

Don't ind what Wiki says there, the 990 may have cruised at that speed, which is comparable to the 707, but it's limiting speed was considerably higher and it could maintain that for a trip as you describe.
By the way, the airplane is likely to be unfueled. It is not impossible that there would be fuel on board sufficient for the flight, but finding an airplane all ready to go with no problems is going to be an issue for you, unless your blind guy can do something to get the show on the road.

Pilly
05-03-2012, 05:54 AM
Thank you. This is beginning to sound very complicated! Maybe I should have him taking the train. Lol
I'll do some homework. There is a guy at that prune site helping me too.

Hallen
05-03-2012, 10:07 PM
Yes, they have hot wings, but it's seldom used. Icing is contingent on the size and temp of the droplets, inertia being critical to formation. Added to the shape of the airfoil and the temp of the wing, airframe icing on jets is rare.
The engines are another matter, fans ice up easily and can be damaged or even flame out due to icing.

All true. Except see below.



Nope, Even cruising around in the hold at, say 5,000' with the TAT at -5 it is rare to get airframe ice in most swept wing aircraft.
So much so that the bleed valves that control it need a little extra attention to clean the cobwebs out.


The reason, as I stated above, that ice accumulation on jets is rare, and the reason the bleed valves need cleaning periodically, is simply the exposure time. Trust me, around here, if you're flying around at 5k in the clouds, at that temp, you're going to pack on ice no matter what the designation of the airplane is. The ice doesn't care that you're flying a jet.

Swept wings are better for not accumulating ice, thinner wings are better, smooth surfaces are better, fewer twiddly bits hanging off the airplane are better, but no aircraft is immune. It's the flight profile that keeps the ice off, not the type of aircraft. Anyway, that's my experienced opinion, your mileage may vary.

Pilly
05-05-2012, 05:58 PM
Ok, I had better tell the basic plot here. MC is in Dallas when JFK is shot. He realises one of the killers is on air force one with Johnson. He tries to get on the plane but misses it. He and his blind pilot friend resort to stealing another plane to catch them in Washington.
The details can be pretty flexible, but obviously a scheduled flight would not even come close to making it. Beam me up scotty was three years in the future! ;)

debirlfan
05-05-2012, 11:11 PM
Dumb question - would your hero be better off stealing some sort of military or corporate jet rather than a commercial airliner?

Prophetsnake
05-06-2012, 12:27 AM
The reason, as I stated above, that ice accumulation on jets is rare, and the reason the bleed valves need cleaning periodically, is simply the exposure time. Trust me, around here, if you're flying around at 5k in the clouds, at that temp, you're going to pack on ice no matter what the designation of the airplane is. The ice doesn't care that you're flying a jet.

Yes it does, for several reasons, the main being the sweep.



Swept wings are better for not accumulating ice, thinner wings are better, smooth surfaces are better, fewer twiddly bits hanging off the airplane are better, but no aircraft is immune. It's the flight profile that keeps the ice off, not the type of aircraft. Anyway, that's my experienced opinion, your mileage may vary.

Or my roughly 6,000,000 miles (over 20,000 hours) flying the B737 B 727, B 757, A300B4 A310, BAC 1-11 ( which did ice fairly handily and is the only jet I have flown that had anti-ice on the tail surfaces)

Also have a good few thousand hours in Turboprops that cruise at altitudes high enough to evade icing and some climb just as fast as the jets.
Surprise surprise, they ice all the time.

The 1-11 aside, I can count on one hand the number of times I've used wing A/I on jets. And I have operated everywhere from Thule, Greenland to equatorial Africa.

And that includes some very long holds at 5,000 feet in icing conditions. Hours sometimes.

Prophetsnake
05-06-2012, 12:35 AM
Dumb question - would your hero be better off stealing some sort of military or corporate jet rather than a commercial airliner?

Good point!

IIRC, and i could be wrong, he was flown back in a 707 ( actually, a VC-135, which is essentially the same aircraft). Another 707 is not going to catch it. Even if it was cruising at the lower end of the range any you went at the fastest ( called the barber pole, by the way) you'd never catch it. The Lear of the day would be a bit faster, but other than that, you're looking at a fighter, and precious few of those at that time had the range to go from Dallas to DC un-refueled.

I'd think up something else. stowing away on the president's airplane would be a whole lot easier and just as exciting what with the danger of detection.