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'It's like a souped up old Herc with a lot more jam'

21st May 2010 - 11:05 GMT | by The Shephard News Team

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At the age of 27, Captain Jason Danyluk of Edmonton, Alta. has done what only a handful of Canadian Forces pilots have done in the history of the Air Force. 

 He has flown “the most advanced tactical airlifter” in the world, the CC-130J Hercules, (as described) by its manufacturer, Lockheed Martin.

Not bad for a CF pilot on his first flying tour.

“It’s the chance of a lifetime,” says Capt Danyluk who flies with 436 (Transport) Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton, Ont.  He was selected to be part of the first group of CF air and ground crews to train on the CC-130J Hercules at United States Air Force Base (USAF), Little Rock, Arkansas.

Despite the obvious feather in his cap, Capt Danyluk says it was a little intimidating to train alongside more senior Canadian air transport pilots with thousands of flying hours and years of experience flying on the H model CC-130 Hercules.

“I definitely had to prove myself because I’m a pipe,” says Capt Danyluk, referring to the Air Force term “pipeliner” – a term used to describe the steady stream of young Canadian Forces pilots who pass through the military flying training program to earn their wings.

“One of the more experienced tactical flying instructors here in Trenton told us before we left to go down and kick butt to show we had what it took; afterwards the [USAF] instructors told us we exceeded all of their expectations.”

Capt Danyluk joined the Air Force in 2004, earned his pilot’s wings in 2007 and with 600 flying hours under his belt (approximately 300 on the J model, including 200 hours of simulator time), he is anxious to wrack up even more.   He says the J model will indeed allow him to fly “faster, further, higher” however, he says the fundamentals of flying will remain the same.

“You still have to fly that airplane.  Just because it’s new doesn’t mean that now it’s completely hands-off flying.  It hasn’t gone down that road.  You’re still taking off the aircraft, you’re not engaging any auto pilots really early, and you’re not doing auto lands.  All the things you do in the old Herc you do in the new Herc hands and feet wise; you just have a more capable aircraft.  The J model is like a souped up old Herc with a lot more jam.”

Still, one of the many advantages Capt Danyluk cites about flying the J model Hercules, for example, is the amount of emergency procedures that have to be memorized.

“Instead of having to learn a four-inch thick binder of emergency procedures [if we were flying for the old model Hercules], we only have maybe one or two pages with the J.”

Fellow J model Hercules pilot, Captain Kevin McIntosh, of North Bay, Ont., echoes that sentiment.

“The technology removes a lot of the stress of flying and makes it incredibly fun to fly.  Not easy, but fun.  The HUD [Heads Up Display], for example, gives you all the information that you want, when you want it, in front of your face at all times and gives you more information than you could ever have had in the legacy aircraft.  It’s easier just to ‘man-handle’ it and go out and do what you need to do and you’re not worried about all the systems because the technology takes care of all the systems for you.”

Loadmaster Warrant Officer Rick Barrett, of Mission, B.C, with 4,600 flying hours on the legacy CC-130 Hercules, says the computers on board the J model do make his job easier. However, he says the task of ensuring the aircraft, its cargo and passengers are safely and securely loaded still takes a human hand.

“The work environment is basically the same.  I mean you still have to walk back and forth in the airplane, physically lock platforms into the cargo handling system as well as finding out whether the centre of gravity is within allowable limits.  But the computer will now tell you whether you’re within those limits; it will also tell you what your maximum gross takeoff and landing weight is, things of that nature.  And if there is a problem the computer will generally tell you you’ve exceeded your limitations, re-check your load stations for where you’ve put those pallets in the system.

As a senior member of the Air Force with 27 years of service, and more than four domestic and overseas operations under his belt, WO Barrett is rather philosophical about the impact the J model will have on CF operations.

“I think as a whole the Canadian public has gotten their money’s worth with this new acquisition as well as the folks in the Canadian Forces who are extremely proud to have this asset.”

Canada is slated to accept its first CC-130J Hercules later this spring.

By Holly Bridges - Canadian Forces

The Shephard News Team

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