“We ended up extending our parking time by almost four hours until the emergency plane arrived. Total flight time almost thirteen hours! ‘ Ross Hall, former US Navy NFO P-3 Orion.
The P-3 Orion is a long-range, land-based, four-turboprop anti-submarine warfare patrol aircraft.
To save fuel during long-range patrols on land and at sea, the P-3 can operate with one of its four engines off. This allows for extended missions of more than ten hours. Engine number one, or furthest from the fuselage on the port side, is the engine that is shut down. This action also reduces engine smoke, allowing for better surveillance viewing from the aft port window.
“Operating from Iceland, our P-3 followed a Soviet submarine into the Norwegian Sea. We already had engine # 1 on standby, which was standard procedure during our nine hour flight. We were running EMCON (emission control), so we weren’t transmitting. However, we were following the regular broadcast from our base, which informed us that our twin plane, which was to pick us up at the station, had been delayed. “Extend in the station as long as possible” was our new order.
“’Loiter number four’, and we shut down our second engine.
“Our plane shook, as we settled into a low speed, high angle of attack stroll. We ended up extending our stay by almost four hours until the rescue plane arrived. Total flight time nearly thirteen hours!
“Sometimes the boring hours are punctuated with sheer terror, or sometimes sheer bliss – I remember many times when fantastic events unfolded before my eyes: Northern Lights; adiabatic winds over a glacier; mountainous seas crash onto the flight deck of an aircraft carrier; exotic stopovers; the suicide of a friend and colleague; watch a tropical thunderstorm fade into a drunken haze. ‘
“Looking back, I am very amazed at the deep responsibilities our nation places on inexperienced youth and how they meet the challenges presented to them. I consider myself very lucky.
Photo credit: US Navy