Cape Town Bound Albuquerque Center: “AGAR 94, do you have time for a question?” AGAR 94: “Go ahead” Albuquerque Center: “Just curious, what is a C-18 and what is your destination?” In   over   six   years   as   an   ARIA   (Advanced   Range   Instrumentation   Aircraft)   pilot,   this   set   of   radio transmissions   has   been   the   hallmark   of   many   trips   around   the   world.   Our   latest   expedition marked   a   return   to   Cape Town,   South Africa   after   a   ten   year   hiatus   due   to   political   turmoil   in   the region.   This   cold   night   of   February   14,   1996   would   be   the   first   leg   of   a   deployment   to   perform the   first-ever   telemetry   gathering   flight   over   the   continent   of   Antarctica.   A   recent   modification, which   allows   in-flight   refueling,   made   this   flight   possible   as   well   as   our   6400   nautical   mile   non- stop leg from Edwards AFB, CA to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. The     EC-18     is     the     latest     version     of     the    ARIA     (Apollo,     until     1975/Advanced     Range Instrumentation   Aircraft).   Developed   as   a   joint   venture   between   NASA   and   the   DOD,   the   first fleet   of   eight   modified   C-135   transport   aircraft   became   operational   in   January   1968.   These McDonnell-Douglas/Bendix   modified   aircraft   filled   the   huge   gaps   of   telemetry   and   voice   relay ground station coverage around the globe. After   the   Apollo   program   concluded,   the   ARIA   fleet   moved   to   the   4950th   Test   Wing   at   Wright- Patterson   AFB,   OH.   Continuous   upgrades   allowed   new   missions   including   orbital   insertion,   re- entry vehicle tracking, and cruise missile chase. In   1981   the   USAF   announced   plans   to   upgrade   the ARIA   fleet   by   converting   to   the   Boeing   707- 320   airframe.   Eight   of   these   airliners   were   purchased   from   the American Airlines   corporation   for approximately   $2   million   each.   The   first   C-18   ARIA   mission,   with   its   increased   takeoff   weight and   shorter   field   capability,   flew   from   Kenya   in   January   1986.   More   modifications   to   ARIA provided    an    ICBM    scoring,    tracking,    photography    capability    known    as    SMILS    (Sonobouy Missile   Impact   Location   System). The   SMILS   C-18   lays   a   pattern   of   sonobouys   to   score   missile impact   accuracy,   effectively   replacing   three   aircraft   with   one   C-18   platform.   Over   120   re-entry vehicles   were   scored   during   testing.   During   a   Peacekeeper   missile   test   in   the   summer   of   1992, a full mission certification was completed at the Kwajelien Missile test range. The   Base   re-alignment   and   closure Act   of   1991   closed   the   4950th Test   Wing   and   the ARIA   fleet moved   to   Edwards   AFB,   CA.   The   new   452nd   Flight   Test   Squadron   continued   to   upgrade   the fleet   by   modifying   the   C-18   for   in-flight   refueling.   Extensive   upgrades   to   the   telemetry   mission equipment   incorporated   digital   equipment,   SATCOM,   and   GPS-based   timing.   In   the   spring   of 1995, the first ARIA in-flight refueling took place over the Mojave desert. At   Ascension   Island,   the   C-18   in   our   story,   tail   number   81-0894,   AGAR   94,   supported   a   Delta Booster   launch   of   the   NEAR   spacecraft,   which   will   have   a   close   encounter   with   the   asteroid Eros.   The   next   morning   we   deployed   to   South Africa   for   the   Polar   Explorer   mission. A   beautiful, sunlit   mountainous   area   along   the   coastline   greeted   the   crew   as   we   approached Africa   from   the north.   On   landing,   the   charm   of   the   South   Africans   overtook   us.   Greeted   by   our   host   officer, Capt   Moore   of   the   South   African   Air   Force,   the   crew   of   894   soon   discovered   the   tremendous hospitality   of   the   South Africans.   The   KC-135R   tanker   crew   from   McConnell AFB,   KS   met   us   at Cape   Town   International   Airport.   Ground   transportation   took   us   to   our   quarters   at   the   South African   Air   Base   of   Ysterplaat   where,   an   evening   reception   followed.   The   next   day,   several tours   of   the   historic   local   area   were   graciously   arranged   by   our   hosts.   On   the   morning   of   the 23rd,   eager   to   fly,   both   crews   went   to   their   planes   to   prepare   for   the   long   trek   south.   Shortly after   takeoff,   the   ARIA   began   to   verify   their   equipment   for   the   mission.   About   three   hours   after departing   Cape   Town,   the   flight   of   two   aircraft   began   its   historic   in-flight   refueling,   enabling   the Antarctic flight. Without   the   successful   transfer   of   fuel,   the ARIA   would   not   have   the   range   to   reach   its   support point,    and    the    Delta    II    launch    from    Vandenberg   AFB,    CA    would    be    forced    into    a    costly postponement.   The   airmanship   of   both   flight   crews   was   evident   as   the   refueling   went   off without   a   hitch.   A   jubilant   crew   continued   to   another   ARIA   first;   crossing   the   Antarctic   Circle, traveling   to   69   degrees   south.   Ready   to   support,   the   ARIA   arrived   on   station   only   to   have   the mission   canceled   due   to   excessive   upper   level   winds   at   the   launch   site   at   Vandenberg   AFB. Returning   to   Cape   Town,   the   crew   found   themselves   going   into   immediate   crew   rest   to   prepare for the next day's mission. The   locals   say,   “the   table   is   set."   The   phrase   describes   the   breathtaking   view   of   morning   fog rolling off the Table Mountain summit that greeted us the next day. Our   take   off   was   to   the   south,   and   within   a   few   minutes,   the   Cape   of   Good   Hope   passed beneath   the   right   wing.   Five   hours   passed   with   nothing   to   see   but   water   and   icebergs. The   pilot pans,   “Lots   of   water   down   there.”   The   co-pilot   retorts   as   he   has   a   thousand   times   before,   “And that’s   just   the   top   of   it.”   Again,   AGAR   94   met   the   tanker,   call   sign   TURBO   95,   successfully refueled,   and   headed   south   for   the   second   support   attempt.   After   a   smooth   refueling,   trouble struck   our   mission   equipment   section.   With   recorder   problems,   communication   difficulties   and processing   equipment   failures,   the   mission   equipment   crew   of   seven   enlisted   and   one   officer had   their   hands   full.   With   over   30   years   experience   amongst   them,   the   crew   solved   every problem.   By   the   time   the   Delta   II   was   ready   to   launch,   AGAR   94   was   ready   to   receive   it.   Two additional   ARIA   aircraft   supported   the   launch   near   the   equator   and   the   initial   launch   data   was perfect   (“nominal”   in   space   lingo).   Once   out   of   range   of   the   first   two   ARIA,   the   Polar   vehicle, true   to   its   name,   traveled   south   over   the   pole   and AGAR   94   began   to   receive   telemetry. At   this point,   the   NASA   operators   looking   at   the   re-transmitted   data   at   Cape   Canaveral   noticed   an unauthorized   user   on   the   satellite   channel.   Increasing   to   full   authorized   power   on   the   SATCOM transmitter,   we   managed   to   override   the   interloper   and   soon   Cape   Canaveral   announced   the clear reception of our data which continued through the rest of the mission. In   high   spirits   the   ARIA   crew   returned   to   South   Africa,   departing   the   next   day   to   return   home. The   monotony   of   the   final,   15   hour   flight,   from   Ascension   Island   to   Edwards   AFB   was   broken only by the radio talk: MIAMI CENTER: “Just curious AGAR 94, Do you have time for a question?” William Walkowiak
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Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft
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ARIA History Website and Archive
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Cape Town Bound Albuquerque   Center:   “AGAR   94,   do   you   have   time   for a question?” AGAR 94: “Go ahead” Albuquerque   Center:   “Just   curious,   what   is   a   C-18   and what is your destination?” In    over    six    years    as    an    ARIA    (Advanced    Range Instrumentation     Aircraft)     pilot,     this     set     of     radio transmissions    has    been    the    hallmark    of    many    trips around    the    world.    Our    latest    expedition    marked    a return   to   Cape   Town,   South   Africa   after   a   ten   year hiatus   due   to   political   turmoil   in   the   region.   This   cold night   of   February   14,   1996   would   be   the   first   leg   of   a deployment     to     perform     the     first-ever     telemetry gathering    flight    over    the    continent    of    Antarctica.    A recent    modification,    which    allows    in-flight    refueling, made   this   flight   possible   as   well   as   our   6400   nautical mile   non-stop   leg   from   Edwards AFB,   CA   to Ascension Island in the South Atlantic. The   EC-18   is   the   latest   version   of   the   ARIA   (Apollo, until   1975/Advanced   Range   Instrumentation   Aircraft). Developed   as   a   joint   venture   between   NASA   and   the DOD,   the   first   fleet   of   eight   modified   C-135   transport aircraft   became   operational   in   January   1968.   These McDonnell-Douglas/Bendix   modified   aircraft   filled   the huge   gaps   of   telemetry   and   voice   relay   ground   station coverage around the globe. After    the   Apollo    program    concluded,    the   ARIA    fleet moved   to   the   4950th   Test   Wing   at   Wright-Patterson AFB,   OH.   Continuous   upgrades   allowed   new   missions including    orbital    insertion,    re-entry    vehicle    tracking, and cruise missile chase. In   1981   the   USAF   announced   plans   to   upgrade   the ARIA    fleet    by    converting    to    the    Boeing    707-320 airframe.   Eight   of   these   airliners   were   purchased   from the   American   Airlines   corporation   for   approximately   $2 million    each.    The    first    C-18    ARIA    mission,    with    its increased   takeoff   weight   and   shorter   field   capability, flew   from   Kenya   in   January   1986.   More   modifications to     ARIA     provided     an     ICBM     scoring,     tracking, photography    capability    known    as    SMILS    (Sonobouy Missile    Impact    Location    System).    The    SMILS    C-18 lays   a   pattern   of   sonobouys   to   score   missile   impact accuracy,   effectively   replacing   three   aircraft   with   one C-18   platform.   Over   120   re-entry   vehicles   were   scored during   testing.   During   a   Peacekeeper   missile   test   in the   summer   of   1992,   a   full   mission   certification   was completed at the Kwajelien Missile test range. The   Base   re-alignment   and   closure Act   of   1991   closed the   4950th   Test   Wing   and   the   ARIA   fleet   moved   to Edwards    AFB,     CA.     The     new     452nd     Flight     Test Squadron   continued   to   upgrade   the   fleet   by   modifying the   C-18   for   in-flight   refueling.   Extensive   upgrades   to the   telemetry   mission   equipment   incorporated   digital equipment,   SATCOM,   and   GPS-based   timing.   In   the spring   of   1995,   the   first   ARIA   in-flight   refueling   took place over the Mojave desert. At   Ascension   Island,   the   C-18   in   our   story,   tail   number 81-0894,   AGAR   94,   supported   a   Delta   Booster   launch of    the    NEAR    spacecraft,    which    will    have    a    close encounter   with   the   asteroid   Eros. The   next   morning   we deployed    to    South    Africa    for    the    Polar    Explorer mission. A   beautiful,   sunlit   mountainous   area   along   the coastline   greeted   the   crew   as   we   approached   Africa from   the   north.   On   landing,   the   charm   of   the   South Africans   overtook   us.   Greeted   by   our   host   officer,   Capt Moore   of   the   South   African   Air   Force,   the   crew   of   894 soon    discovered    the    tremendous    hospitality    of    the South    Africans.     The     KC-135R     tanker     crew     from McConnell AFB,   KS   met   us   at   Cape Town   International Airport.   Ground   transportation   took   us   to   our   quarters at   the   South   African   Air   Base   of   Ysterplaat   where,   an evening    reception    followed.    The    next    day,    several tours     of     the     historic     local     area     were     graciously arranged   by   our   hosts.   On   the   morning   of   the   23rd, eager   to   fly,   both   crews   went   to   their   planes   to   prepare for   the   long   trek   south.   Shortly   after   takeoff,   the   ARIA began   to   verify   their   equipment   for   the   mission.   About three   hours   after   departing   Cape Town,   the   flight   of   two aircraft   began   its   historic   in-flight   refueling,   enabling the Antarctic flight. Without   the   successful   transfer   of   fuel,   the ARIA   would not   have   the   range   to   reach   its   support   point,   and   the Delta   II   launch   from   Vandenberg   AFB,   CA   would   be forced   into   a   costly   postponement.   The   airmanship   of both   flight   crews   was   evident   as   the   refueling   went   off without   a   hitch.   A   jubilant   crew   continued   to   another ARIA   first;   crossing   the Antarctic   Circle,   traveling   to   69 degrees   south.   Ready   to   support,   the   ARIA   arrived   on station    only    to    have    the    mission    canceled    due    to excessive    upper    level    winds    at    the    launch    site    at Vandenberg   AFB.   Returning   to   Cape   Town,   the   crew found   themselves   going   into   immediate   crew   rest   to prepare for the next day's mission. The   locals   say,   “the   table   is   set."   The   phrase   describes the    breathtaking    view    of    morning    fog    rolling    off    the Table Mountain summit that greeted us the next day. Our    take    off    was    to    the    south,    and    within    a    few minutes,   the   Cape   of   Good   Hope   passed   beneath   the right   wing.   Five   hours   passed   with   nothing   to   see   but water    and    icebergs.    The    pilot    pans,    “Lots    of    water down   there.”   The   co-pilot   retorts   as   he   has   a   thousand times    before,    “And    that’s    just    the    top    of    it.”   Again, AGAR    94    met    the    tanker,    call    sign    TURBO    95, successfully     refueled,     and     headed     south     for     the second    support    attempt.    After    a    smooth    refueling, trouble    struck    our    mission    equipment    section.    With recorder     problems,     communication     difficulties     and processing   equipment   failures,   the   mission   equipment crew   of   seven   enlisted   and   one   officer   had   their   hands full.   With   over   30   years   experience   amongst   them,   the crew   solved   every   problem.   By   the   time   the   Delta   II was   ready   to   launch, AGAR   94   was   ready   to   receive   it. Two   additional ARIA   aircraft   supported   the   launch   near the    equator    and    the    initial    launch    data    was    perfect (“nominal”   in   space   lingo).   Once   out   of   range   of   the first    two   ARIA,    the    Polar    vehicle,    true    to    its    name, traveled   south   over   the   pole   and   AGAR   94   began   to receive   telemetry.   At   this   point,   the   NASA   operators looking   at   the   re-transmitted   data   at   Cape   Canaveral noticed   an   unauthorized   user   on   the   satellite   channel. Increasing   to   full   authorized   power   on   the   SATCOM transmitter,   we   managed   to   override   the   interloper   and soon   Cape   Canaveral   announced   the   clear   reception of   our   data   which   continued   through   the   rest   of   the mission. In   high   spirits   the   ARIA   crew   returned   to   South   Africa, departing   the   next   day   to   return   home.   The   monotony of   the   final,   15   hour   flight,   from   Ascension   Island   to Edwards AFB was broken only by the radio talk: MIAMI   CENTER:   “Just   curious AGAR   94,   Do   you   have time for a question?” William Walkowiak