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Thread: Load shift on takeoff C-46 cargo flight Barrow, Alaska

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    AlaskaAV's Avatar
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    Load shift on takeoff C-46 cargo flight Barrow, Alaska

    The normal departure at the Barrow airport is runway 6. About 10 miles away to the northeast is the Point Barrow Air Force Station with a runway more or less parallel.

    On one flight with a gross cargo load of lumber and drummed fuel destined for Bud Helmricks place at the mouth of the Coleville River on the North Slope of Alaska, the load shifted to the rear just after liftoff and slid clear to the back of the aircraft. Talk about tail heavy. If I am not mistaken, Bud was even on the flight. As I watched it leave, I saw the tail go down and within a few seconds, I heard the sound of the engines change so suspect they, shell we say, firewalled it for what little extra power there was left. I could see the wings rocking back and forth a little and finally, they bent it over real slow to line up with the PBA airport which was almost in a straight line but a little north. They were never able to gain any altitude above a couple of hundred feet from the looks of it and talk about slow. Ever see a duck walk? That was kind of what the aircraft looked like as it moved over to the left.

    The airport manager at the Point Barrow airport told me later that the aircraft was below the level of some of the warehouses just off the end of the runway when they were on short final coming in over the Arctic Ocean. They landed at full power, tail first and once the main gear came down, they were able to power off and taxi to the ramp with no problem.

    Other than some fantastic flying, probably the only thing that saved the aircraft was the large tail feathers the C-46 has. With all the power being used and both pilots forcing the yoke forward, they still had some control even though the aircraft was just at stall speed all ten miles. I often wondered how those engines kept running with so much power being applied.

    The flight crew reloaded the flight, borrowed some new tiedowns and continued with the trip after checking the engines out real good and taking a good look at the tail wheel assembly.

    Just another day of bush flying in Alaska.

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    Erine

    Funny you mentioned the Helmricks I have met Buds Kids the last couple of summers on the Coleville delta. Great bunch of folks here is there web page http://astacalaska.com/~jwhgpa/index.html

    Cub_Driver

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    AlaskaAV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cub_driver
    Erine

    Funny you mentioned the Helmricks I have met Buds Kids the last couple of summers on the Coleville delta. Great bunch of folks here is there web page http://astacalaska.com/~jwhgpa/index.html

    Cub_Driver
    I first met Bud when I lived at Umiat in 1965. He used to fly his beautiful C-170 (the Arctic Tern) over to Umiat and leave it where I could watch it and than jump on our flight into Fairbanks. I don't remember ever meeting their kids though.

    We used to fly white fish out of Coleville for him with our C-46s.
    That was quite a freezer system he had to keep the fish frozen while building up a C-46 load.
    He had dug 4 big rooms underground in the permafrost with an elevator system in the center. At all times, summer and winter, the temperatures stayed right at 0 degrees just from the permafrost.
    Our flight crews always helped load the fish and tie the load down. Talk about work, one fish at a time.

    In those days, Coleville was an on demand stop on our Umiat/Barrow flights. I have flown into their place a few times in our Beavers back in the 60s.

    Thanks much for the link. I see from the photos that the place has sure grown. Didn't Bud own a place down on Walker Lake at one time?

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    AlaskaAV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cub_driver
    Erine

    Funny you mentioned the Helmricks I have met Buds Kids the last couple of summers on the Coleville delta. Great bunch of folks here is there web page http://astacalaska.com/~jwhgpa/index.html

    Cub_Driver
    I am sure it was Teena's father that married my wife and I at Barrow in 1963. Getting to be a smaller world every day.

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    AlaskaAV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cub_driver
    Erine

    Funny you mentioned the Helmricks I have met Buds Kids the last couple of summers on the Coleville delta. Great bunch of folks here is there web page http://astacalaska.com/~jwhgpa/index.html

    Cub_Driver
    Mystery salved. After talking to Teena, it is confirmed that her Father's replacement, Rev Chambers was the minister that married us in Barrow. It is really fun going back 40 years and many thinks for the link.

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