Cargomaster on the go !
C-133A Cargomaster N199AB was considered stored at Anchorage by most and indeed seldom reported flying, but this has changed ! It was reported flying on June 10th, 2004 and these photos were taken on June 17th. Stu Sibitzky witnessed the action by this impressive dinosaur of USAF transports at Fairbanks,AK and kindly sent me the photos to share.
Photos © Stu Sibitzky
What an impressive sight ! This is how Stu described it: "A low, rumble, shake you to your socks, 18 foot propeller kind of noise. Yes, it was the sound of “heavy props” once again. I wish I could have recorded the sound as it passed our hangar on takeoff."
These pictures were taken on Saturday, 19 June 2004 here in Fairbanks. They were here to load two large Kenworth dump trucks for Chalkyitsik.
Chalkyitsik is a 5,000’x60’ gravel runway with virtually no ramp area. Population, 65. It is located some 150 miles north of Fairbanks.
Stu added some images, such as 2 pictures of the Chalkyitsik area: approaching from the Southwest and
landing toward the Southwest. It would have been even more fun to have been at the village when they arrived. The village has an about 4,000’ of dirt/gravel runway and basically no ramp (for an aircraft of that size) to turn around (and of course no radar, control tower, radio, bathrooms, …nothing!). Charts: Dawson Sectional and Alaska Supplement.
One flying NE towards the village shows the surrounding countryside (compare it with the map). The other taken on short final (raindrops on the windshield) shows the school area (red roof building -12 kids) and there are an additional 20 or 30 “homes” just off the picture to the right. A “home” here pretty much equates to a “hovel” in the lower 48. Typical village homes measure about 16x24 (4 x 3 sheets of plywood) on up to the larger ones which may be as big as 20x40 (but that’s really big).
Another shot by Stu of this unique prop transport !|
Days before I got a warning from Marshall Carter that it was airborne: "On June 19, 2004, while fishing in the Little Susitna River (across Cook Inlet from Stevens Anchorage IAP) I saw what I am positive was the C-133A Cargomaster (usually in storage at the airport) actually FLYING! I was amazed by the aircraft's size, and sound (loud, low turboprop rumble.). By the direction of it's travel, I am assuming that the C-133 was headed to either Southern Alaska or The Lower '48." I was told that Umiat (about 60 miles SW of Deadhorse on the North Slope) was the destination that day, obviously they combined charters over a few days.
John Ford of AGVIQ sent me these photos, of N199AB on a Deadhorse-Umiat assignment.
The photos are reproduced with permission.
The Cargo Master flew loads for AGVIQ LLC in the summer 2004 to Umiat (Alaska), for an oil spill cleanup project. |
AGVIQ (Iñupiaq word for Bowhead Whale ) is the environmental clean-up company owned by the Point Hope, Alaska village corporation.
The C-133 was loaded in Deadhorse,AK.
Arriving with its load at Umiat,AK:
the landing on the gravel runway sends up billowing clouds of dust.
Dave Krone wrote me in Mar.2006: |
"I went up to Alaska in March of 1974 and went to work for Air North. The pipeline was just starting up then. Up until 1976 or '77, about half my flying was connected to the pipeline or exploration work. It was great. The other half was mostly bush stuff in native vilages and some charter work.
I flew for Air North till 1978. Then went to work for Alaska International in the fall of 1978. Flew for them 9 years, then went to America West in 1987.
I remember when the C-133 showed up at Anchorage Int'l. Those bands around it, that make it look like a caterpillar, were put on by the airforce because when at altitude and pressurised, at least one blew up because the fusalage wasn't strong enough... At least that was what a captain told me who flew in those days."
Mission accomplished: departure from Umiat,AK and no doubt returning to its homebase at Anchorage,AK.
Thanks for sharing, John !
Cal Taylor wrote in Apr.2006: |
"Info from the frozen north, today (16 Apr).
N199AB flew up to Barter Island and Barrow yesterday to deliver some fire trucks and move a grater. On Tuesday they will have 2-3 days of
flying on the North Slope with 13 stops."
Cal wrote a book about this giant transport: Remembering an Unsung Giant: The Douglas C-133 Cargomaster and its People
Cal is an expert on all matters C-133; he also volunteered the following info-
"After 15 years of service, the C-133s were simply worn out. They were originally built for 10,000 hours airframe use and 2,500 landings. That was a reflection of the unawareness of just how much a heavy airlifter would be used.
The 18' propellers operated with tip speeds between Mach .97 in cruise and Mach 1.1 in climb. The sonic impingement, as it was called, on the fuselage was terrific!
A preceding design issue was that the P&W T34 engines never met guarantee. That required (according to the Douglas engineer who ultimately served as C-133 project engineer for about 12 years) three weight-cutting design iterations, even before metal was cut. Thus, the airframe had thinner skin and lighter components than originally planned. Vibration was intense, as I can attest, having stood in the prop plane in an empty aircraft in flight... It felt as though my bones were rattling!
Reportedly, a favorite trick for new maintenance troops was to stand them on a sheet of paper in that location, in flight, and
then to pull the paper out from underneath them without them lifting their feet.
The C-133s were life-extended three times, to 15,000, 17,000 and 19,000 hours. At that point, the managing Air Material Area said that it was no longer economically feasible to carry any of them on to greater airframe life. There was some thought given to extending a few to 25,000 hours, but the C-5 finally entered service in FY 1971, and the last C-133 went to the boneyard on 02Aug71."
For more info, see the website, The C-133 Project (www.angelfire.com/wa2/c133bcargomaster/home.html)
Cal Taylor brought the following fascinating update in June 2008 to my attention:
Travis Air Museum (California) will be receiving the C-133 from Alaska along with two additional C-133s from the Mojave Desert. The plans are to have the one from Alaska arrive at Travis during the Air Force Celebration over the Labor Day Weekend...
The two that Travis will receive from the Mojave are not flyable and will be used for spare parts. There are plans to remove the fight deck from one of them and install it inside the museum. The museum hopes to involve former crew members in this project (more information on this when it becomes available).
The biggest challenge the museum has at the present time is the fuel purchase to fly the plane from Alaska to Travis. The museum has received a donation of $5,000.00 from a former C-133 crew member. This member is challenging other former members for donations, up to an
additional $5,000.00, which he will match.
So many of you have asked how you can help. To make your donation, please send a check or money order to:
TRAVIS AIR MUSEUM
400 BRENNAN CIRCLE
TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, CA 94535
Those who donate $250.00 or more will have their name placed on a donation plaque in the C-133 area of the museum.
Paul Filmer was there to witness the arrival on 30Aug08, and very last landing of this or any C-133 Cargomaster, at Travis AFB. His photoreport...
Another extensive photoreport was compiled by Mark on his page http://boeing377.googlepages.com/c133
"I took great interest in your article on this wonderful transport aircraft, as I was at Travis the day of the landing. It was....incredible! You could hear the engines thundering from miles away, and when it landed and received its 'hosing down' ceremony, it was almost enough to make you want to cry!
Here´s a link so people can keep track on its current progress, along with the status and pictures of many of the other wonderful aircraft they have there:
My grandfather was with me that day, watching it land and taxi to a stop, and he told me a story about how he got kicked off that very plane while he was at a stop-over in Guam in the 1960's !
I guess N199AB, along with all other C-133s in the Pacific region, were flying back to the States to prepare for some kind of mass support flight back across the Pacific. My grandfather, who had been stationed at Yokota AFB, Tokyo, was on his way back to Travis, and had been waiting 3 days in Guam for a flight to Hickam, saw the C-133s (enroute to Hickam), as the perfect plane to hitch a ride on...
At the time, requesting a 'ride' was, well.... As simple as requesting a ride!
So, him and another airman headed back to the States simply went up to the pilot and asked if he'd be willing to take on a couple of passengers. That pilot was somewhat of a stuck-up guy, and told them they couldn't get anywhere near his plane without certificates that showed they were high-altitude flight certified. Lucky for my grandfather, both he and the airman he was traveling with had said certificates (which were in card-form) in their wallets, and they promptly showed them to the pilot. Despite this, he wouldn't let them on, and told them that they would be waiting for a flight on another plane, as they weren't getting on his.
My grandfather and his travel-buddy didn't gripe, and managed to find a ride that same day, in the form of a MATS C-124 (we have one of those at the museum, as well!) bound for Hickam AFB.
As you can tell, I don't remember much of his story, and as he is on a ventilator now and unable to speak, I probably can't ask my grandfather much more about it again."
[My grandfather is MSgt. Richard E. Osburn (USAF, ret.), my father is TSgt. Paul Spurling (USAF, ret.)]
I found N199AB sitting on the ramp at Anchorage-Ted Stevens IAP in Aug03.
This external links lists the fates of the C-133 Cargomaster
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