C-82 ANECDOTES & PILOT NOTES

 
The following anecdotes, stories of adventure, misfortune or brushes with death
have been collected by me over the last few years. Since so few C-82 pilots
are left now, this page will probably be fairly limited but there are some funny
stories to be told all the same.
Also included are some pilot's opinions on the C-82 Packet, what they are
like to fly, their good points and bad points and their general handling
as an aircraft from a pilot's point of view.

Cucumbers!
Capt. Wendell Levister, a Honduran based C-82 pilot, on one occasion had to dump
10,000 pounds of cucumbers from his C-82 after an electrical failure saw the port
main landing gear fail to deploy. Apparently they all came down over the Yoro
area of Honduras. Gives credible evidence to support the mysterious raining
of fish and other material reported by people in many parts of the world.

Flying Cattle!
FAA employee Gary Killion relayed this story to me after hearing it while
on a visit to New Frontier Airlift Corp. Apparently an unknown Latin
American C-82 operator was to transport some cattle to a destination
somewhere in South America. The cattle were loaded into the cargo
hold without any tie-downs being roped around them. When the Packet
rotated on take-off the entire load of cattle slid to the rare of the
aircraft throwing out the center of gravity. Just as the C-82 was
about to stall out the rare clamshell doors bearing all the weight of
the life-stock broke away sending all the cattle tumbling out
into the sky. The C-82 now free of the weight, nosed-down and
regained it's correct airspeed and trim to later land safely, minus of
course it's rare cargo doors. Probably a lot of steaks served that night!

Pilot Notes: Frank Lamm
Frank Lamm is an ex-USAF pilot with over 3000 hours on the C-119.
He piloted the C-82 N9701F back to Hagerstown in 2006.
"I had never set foot in a C-82 before doing so at Greybull in 2006. This posed
no problems as the similarity of the two planes [C-119] made us all feel quite
confident". About the cockpit: "The cockpit layout has good points and bad points.
Though the C-82 has a lot of floor space, nowhere is there enough room in which
to stand up. The forward visibility on TO & landing is much better on the C-119.
I believe the C-82 cockpit is wider than the DC-10 cockpit!". About handling:
"On the initial departure out of Greybull, on the take-off roll, when I started
to pull back on the yoke to rotate, nothing happened. I yanked harder and
the nose finally started to come off the runway and a little help from the trim
wheel made it better. What I did notice was the stiffness in the controls,
particularly the ailerons". About flying the C-82: "The plane flew very
well however I would not have enjoyed flying it in a formation for a
long length of time".

C-82 Hot Seat by Bill Holt
"I wasn't a pilot but when I arrived at Rhein-Main, West Germany, I thought
the C-82's were the greatest thing I had ever seen pertaining to air-planes".
The following is abbreviated from a story by C-82 Flight Engineer Bill Holt who
was based in Europe with the 12th Troop Carrier Squadron. He had fashioned
a small wooden seat from a length of timber for use when kneeling up in the
wheel-well of a C-82 while doing maintenance.
"It was late at night and we were cruising at about 12,000ft. when all of
a sudden the fuel flow meter for the left engine went out of sight! My God
a broken fuel line on the left engine!." The engine kept running however
and nothing could be found to be wrong with the systems after a
checklist was run through. "About an hour later we stopped for fuel,
so I crawled up into the wheel-well to check things out. A newly
wrapped heat duct didn't look good Oh--oh I thought, as I crawled
higher, I saw it...my little wooden platform all charred and black.
I had forgotten to remove it!!! The wood had smouldered enough
from the engine exhaust heat to cause some wires to melt, shorting
out the fuel flow meter. I threw away what was left of my seat
and set about repairing the damage. I can say that I learnt a
lesson that night fifty years ago and I grew up that night too".

Crew Notes: Bob Thayer
The following is from an ex-Steward-Davis employee who has worked
as a crew member on C-82A N6887C and N5102B on several
occasions. It appears from the story below that Bob was observer on
C-82A N8009E (s/n: 44-23027), a Jet-Packet 3200 with twin J30 engines
in a dorsal mounted pod.
"Although I have flown in many types of flying machines in my 53 year
career in aviation, none holds a greater place in my heart than the
ugly, clumsy looking, noisy, always forgiving Fairchild C-82. Over the
31 years that was spent in the employ of Steward-Davis  Inc., many
hours were spent aloft in the C-82, mostly during test flights or with the
many customers involved".
"A very special airplane to fill some very special needs for our very special
customers like Al Mosley, owner of Far North Flying Service in Fairbanks,
Alaska, who was one of my favourites. On my first trip to oversee the
service flights of a newly delivered "Skytruck", Al asked me to meet him at
the "office" - this was the bar at Fairbanks Intl. Airport! His favourite wake-up
drink was not coffee but two or three "Gin Stingers". Following breakfast,
we left to deliver supplies to a Dew-Line station on Indian Mountain in the
Brooks Range, most of which included 55 gallon drums of diesel fuel and gasoline
for the equipment. With virtually no sound proofing and relatively short stacks
on the R-2800s, plus the whine of the J30 turbojets operating at high idle,
intercom was the only means of verbal communication. As we approached
the south face of the mountain, knowing that we needed a few more thousand
feet to clear the top, I was sure that Al had said "there it is!", pointing to a
clearing in the trees. As improbable as it seemed it was not a misunderstanding.
He lined up for a straight in landing on what appeared to be about a 15%
uphill, pee gravel landing strip carved out of a forest. As quickly as we
touched down he gave the engines take-off power for the up-hill climb. As we
hit the top of the strip it flattened out for 200-300 feet before ending at a vertical
cliff dead ahead, chopping all power and standing hard on the brakes, he made a
complete u-turn and came to a stop in perfect position for the down-hill take-off.
After unloading the cargo we received a new load of empty 55 gallon drums to
be returned to Fairbanks. This had been the most unusual landing that I had
ever experienced and I knew that the down-hill take-off could not be
aborted. Inasmuch as our load had been considerably lightened, Al felt no need
to use the jet-assist, consequently, we managed to top a pine tree with the
elevator on our way out, which left a nasty gap in the linen covering.
Upon returning to Fairbanks, with the assistance of an aero-stand and a roll
of silver duct tape, the elevator was as good as new.
The aircraft was later used to deliver the US Geophysical Survey boats to Point
Barrow for the exploration of the North Sea, it delivered a D4 Caterpillar
tractor to an antimony mine in the tundra, Alaskan king grabs in specially
designed ice containers and many, many other unique loads that could not
be handled by any other aircraft".

EDITOR'S NOTE: Bob also flew to Latin America in N6887C to deliver dredging
equipment to a gold mining company in Surinam during 1961. He also worked
as an FAA observer during the filming of "The Flight of the Phoenix" and
along with other crew members, had dinner with legendary Hollywood pilot
Paul Mantz the night before his fatal accident on that movie.

Pilot Notes: Lou Martin
These notes are used with the kind permission of Lou Martin Lt. Col. USAF (ret.)
as published in his book - "Close Encounters with the Pilot's Grim Reaper"
from Trafford Publishing, 2006, ISBN 1-4120-9229-9.
I reported to the 12th Troop Carrier Squadron at Wiesbaden Air Base, then to
my flight leader who said - "I'll have you checked out on the C-82 Packet in no time
at all". He also extended a personal effort in attempting to dispel the disappointment
most new pilots felt in being assigned to fly such an ugly, under-powered aircraft.
After completing a two-week ground school course and a few instructional flights,
I was qualified to fly the Fairchild C-82 [Note: Lou was already a qualified pilot
and this was an aircraft type-rating course]. The C-82 was an easy airplane to
fly and had the largest cockpit of any airlane I had seen. The cockpit was so wide
that separate sets of throttles were installed.
Hot air for de-icing and cabin warmth was provided by "radiator-style-heat-
exchangers". Once the cold ram-air was heated, it was directed into the cabin
by electrically actuated "flapper valves" controlled by a switch in the
cockpit. At times these valves would become stuck producing either full heat,
full cold or nothing. On one trip to Oslo, Norway the heating system failed
resulting in full heat to the flight-deck and full cold to the cargo compartment.
An officer, a US Army colonel, climbed the ladder to the cockpit to complain
of the frigid conditions to see us all in our underwear basking in the tropic heat!
My last C-82 flight was on July 7, 1953, when I delivered one to Kelly AFB,
Texas. By this time I had acquired 1,500 hours in this ill-famed aircraft.

Crew Notes: John Penz
John Penz worked at Rhein-Main AB, Germany in 1951 for the 12th Troop
Carrier Squadron dealing in "Tech Supplies".
"I recall in late '51 or early '52 hearing a "squawk" on the radio of a C-82 with
an engine fire. The aircraft was too low for a bailout and the fire had spread to
the right boom. First we picked up the smoke then the aircraft. Someone pointed
out that the prop was feathered on the right engine and flashes of orange could
be seen through the smoke. As the plane got lower it was evident the pilot was
struggling to keep it in the air and lined up with the runway. It wobbled noticeably
in the last few feet before touchdown. As the C-82 settled onto the runway
the obvious stress of the landing was all the boom could take and collapsed onto
the runway dragging behind the plane. A short roll, a quick stop, engines shut down,
the crew exited the C-82 as the rescue fire trucks arrived. No injuries!"
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"I remember one time when the crew chief had to pull all of a C-82's deck flooring up
for some kind of inspection and found under there pieces of hay and coal! I'm surprised
there were no stowaways from Berlin in there. The plane had been involved with a
humanitarian effort in Arizona / New Mexico dropping food supplies an blankets to
Navajo Indians that were snowbound on their reservation. The coal was I believe left
over from the Berlin Airlift".
 

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