First Contact with ARIA I   was   an   E-3   (A2C),   at   Edwards AFB   in   October   of   1966   when   it   came   in   just   after   sunset   -   the strange   profile   apparent   even   in   the   dusk.   I   was   out   on   the   ramp   at   dusk   because   that   was   the time of day that the interesting birds came out. Test   Pilot   School   and   the   projects   were   fun   to   support   at   EAFB.   Even   our   transient   A/C   were interesting,   but   that   one   was   most   unusual.   I   was   the   radio   communications   fixer   on   night   shift, and   expected   work   orders   to   come   in   that   would   get   me   inside   to   see   it.   Nothing   came   from Maintenance Control. Later,   I   was   told   that   even   though   it   needed   repair,   we   were   forbidden   to   work   on   the   aircraft because   that   project   had   no   money   left   in   the   budget.   When   the   end   of   the   week   came,   and   it had   to   fly,   the   project   would   be   scrapped.   It   didn't   make   sense   to   me,   and   I   argued   with   my civilian boss about it – to unsurprising end. Next   day   or   so,   it   was   too   much   to   learn   that   the   Nav   guys   were   looking   it   over,   so   I   snuck   out and   met   the   crew   chief.   He   and   his   crew   were   from   Douglas   Aircraft,   but   the   plane   was   a Boeing.   Somebody   decided   to   throw   Douglas   a   bone,   and   probably   thought   the   DC-8   and   C- 135   looked   alike   and   must   be   built   the   same.   Big   mistake.   The   crew   had   a   hard   time,   because the bird was not only unfamiliar, but also substantially modified. The   A/C   had   landed   with   all   six   radios   on   the   blink   (2   each,   VHF,   UHF,   and   HF)   and   some interphone   problems.   Some   Nav   trouble,   too.   The   aircraft   had   to   fly   by   the   end   of   the   week   to fulfill   the   obligations   of   the   project,   so   the   Nav   guys   and   I   decided   we'd   do   it   -   we   were   alone   at night, who would know? Since   we   couldn't   leave   a   paper   trail,   we   couldn't   remove   and   replace   anything.   We   had   to   bring any   suspected   units   into   the   shop,   troubleshoot   and   repair   them   using   spare   tubes   and   parts squirreled   away   in   personal   drawers   and   unauthorized   bench   stock. Then   we   could   reinstall   and test.   We   started   with   about   five   days   to   test   flight.   Nav   got   their   stuff   done   in   about   two   nights.   It took me a lot longer. After   a   couple   of   night’s   work,   I   was   pulled   aside   by   our   civilian   shop   chief   and   told   that   he found   out   we   were   supporting   the   project.   It   was   not   permissible   –   even   if   we   were   in   the   same Air Force. It   was   hard   to   go   back   to   the A/C   that   night.   I   had   great   respect   for   my   boss.   So   I   went   back   to work   even   more   surreptitiously,   so   I   wouldn’t   get   him   in   any   more   trouble.   It   was   slow   going. Toward   the   end   of   the   week   all   systems   were   working   but   one   of   the   UHF   radios.   I   spent   most of   the   final   night   trying   to   figure   out   why   I   couldn’t   get   any   signal   out   of   the   system.   The transmitter   looked   okay,   power   out   and   modulation,   but   nothing   was   being   transmitted.   Down   to a   few   hours,   it   seemed   like   a   cruel   hoax   played   by   fate.   We   all   busted   our   humps   for   a   week   to get   the   plane   into   flying   condition,   and   now   this   (and   an   engine   problem)   were   going   to   foil   us after all, in the last hours. It   was   too   much.   I   was   spent   and   depressed.   Wandering   around   the   empty   shops   that   night,   I found   the   autopilot   and   Nav   guys   had   broken   into   a   storage   locker,   retrieved   an   big   box   left   over from   the   B-58   project,   and   were   prying   off   the   lid.   I   wanted   nothing   to   do   with   it.   Looked   like   an Article 15 to me. Bad   night   –   I   had   failed.   What   I   needed   didn’t   exist,   as   far   as   I   knew   -   something   to   tell   me   the impedance   all   along   the   cable   from   the   radio   to   the   antenna.   Going   back   to   the   Nav   shop,   I   saw they    had    opened    the    case,    and    powered    up    some    instrument    that    looked    like    an    HP oscilloscope,   and   were   trying   it   out.   It   was   a   Time   Domain   Reflectometer.   It   sent   pulses   down antenna   cables,   and   mapped   out   the   impedance   at   RF.   It   was   the   first   and   only   time   I   had   seen one, and it was exactly what I needed right then. Grabbing   the   set   and Autopilot’s   100-foot   extension   cord,   I   raced   out   to   the   aircraft   at   midnight, hooked   up   the   unit,   and   found   an   impedance   aberration   in   the   cable   just   past   the   point   it disappeared   into   heavily-modified   airframe.   Realizing   we   might   be   able   to   re-route   another cable,   I   notified   the   crew   chief   about   the   finding.   Looking   into   the   conditions   in   that   part   of   the airframe,   they   also   found   the   trouble   with   the   engine;   a   bleed   valve,   installed   backwards   was dumping   hot   air   into   that   small   section   of   closed   airframe.   As   they   reinstalled   the   bleed   valve, we   found   another   way   to   reroute   a   new   cable,   and   we   all   got   busy.   It   had   to   be   in   the   air   in about an hour. It   was   a   darn   cold   windy   night,   and   I   had   to   bring   the   coaxial   cable   end   into   the   extended   hood of   my   arctic   parka   to   solder   the   tip   onto   the   connector. Time   was   up. The   plane   had   to   perform.   I hooked   up   the   antenna   while   they   ran   up   the   engines,   still   not   knowing   if   the   system   would work,   dragged   my   stuff   out   of   the A/C,   and   was   coiling   up   the   extension   cord   as   the   plane   taxied out. I didn’t even have time to ops check the system. I guess the crew chief or pilot did it. The   plane   taxied   into   the   pre-morning   darkness.   I   shuffled   back   to   the   shop,   put   the   stuff   away, and   trudged   to   the   barracks   as   the   sun   rose.   Nothing   was   ever   said   by   my   boss,   but   it   was   my last   hurrah   on   the   flight   line.   I   was   immediately   taken   off   flight   line   duty   and   put   into   the   shop, where   I   could   be   watched,   I   suppose,   and   do   the   homework   I   had   neglected   in   order   to   get   my 5-level   skill   category   (I   was   still   a   3-level   at   the   tme).   Getting   to   do   that   was   a   great   treat   for   me, even though we didn’t talk about it. I miss the excitement. George Kamburoff
ARIA History Website and Archive
Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft
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Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft
     United States Air Force
ARIA History Website and Archive
      United States Air Force Apollo Range Instrumentation Aircraft Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft
This Web Site Copyright © 2000-2017 Randy L. Losey - All other works Copyright © by their perspective owners
First Contact with ARIA I   was   an   E-3   (A2C),   at   Edwards   AFB   in   October   of 1966   when   it   came   in   just   after   sunset   -   the   strange profile   apparent   even   in   the   dusk.   I   was   out   on   the ramp   at   dusk   because   that   was   the   time   of   day   that   the interesting birds came out. Test   Pilot   School   and   the   projects   were   fun   to   support at   EAFB.   Even   our   transient   A/C   were   interesting,   but that     one     was     most     unusual.     I     was     the     radio communications   fixer   on   night   shift,   and   expected   work orders   to   come   in   that   would   get   me   inside   to   see   it. Nothing came from Maintenance Control. Later,   I   was   told   that   even   though   it   needed   repair,   we were   forbidden   to   work   on   the   aircraft   because   that project   had   no   money   left   in   the   budget.   When   the   end of   the   week   came,   and   it   had   to   fly,   the   project   would be   scrapped.   It   didn't   make   sense   to   me,   and   I   argued with my civilian boss about it – to unsurprising end. Next   day   or   so,   it   was   too   much   to   learn   that   the   Nav guys   were   looking   it   over,   so   I   snuck   out   and   met   the crew    chief.    He    and    his    crew    were    from    Douglas Aircraft,    but    the    plane    was    a    Boeing.    Somebody decided    to    throw    Douglas    a    bone,    and    probably thought   the   DC-8   and   C-135   looked   alike   and   must   be built   the   same.   Big   mistake.   The   crew   had   a   hard   time, because    the    bird    was    not    only    unfamiliar,    but    also substantially modified. The   A/C   had   landed   with   all   six   radios   on   the   blink   (2 each,    VHF,    UHF,    and    HF)    and    some    interphone problems.   Some   Nav   trouble,   too.   The   aircraft   had   to fly   by   the   end   of   the   week   to   fulfill   the   obligations   of   the project,   so   the   Nav   guys   and   I   decided   we'd   do   it   -   we were alone at night, who would know? Since    we    couldn't    leave    a    paper    trail,    we    couldn't remove   and   replace   anything.   We   had   to   bring   any suspected   units   into   the   shop,   troubleshoot   and   repair them   using   spare   tubes   and   parts   squirreled   away   in personal   drawers   and   unauthorized   bench   stock.   Then we   could   reinstall   and   test.   We   started   with   about   five days   to   test   flight.   Nav   got   their   stuff   done   in   about   two nights. It took me a lot longer. After   a   couple   of   night’s   work,   I   was   pulled   aside   by our   civilian   shop   chief   and   told   that   he   found   out   we were   supporting   the   project.   It   was   not   permissible   even if we were in the same Air Force. It   was   hard   to   go   back   to   the A/C   that   night.   I   had   great respect   for   my   boss.   So   I   went   back   to   work   even more   surreptitiously,   so   I   wouldn’t   get   him   in   any   more trouble.   It   was   slow   going.   Toward   the   end   of   the   week all   systems   were   working   but   one   of   the   UHF   radios.   I spent   most   of   the   final   night   trying   to   figure   out   why   I couldn’t    get    any    signal    out    of    the    system.    The transmitter   looked   okay,   power   out   and   modulation,   but nothing   was   being   transmitted.   Down   to   a   few   hours,   it seemed   like   a   cruel   hoax   played   by   fate.   We   all   busted our    humps    for    a    week    to    get    the    plane    into    flying condition,   and   now   this   (and   an   engine   problem)   were going to foil us after all, in the last hours. It     was     too     much.     I     was     spent     and     depressed. Wandering   around   the   empty   shops   that   night,   I   found the   autopilot   and   Nav   guys   had   broken   into   a   storage locker,   retrieved   an   big   box   left   over   from   the   B-58 project,   and   were   prying   off   the   lid.   I   wanted   nothing   to do with it. Looked like an Article 15 to me. Bad   night   –   I   had   failed.   What   I   needed   didn’t   exist,   as far   as   I   knew   -   something   to   tell   me   the   impedance   all along   the   cable   from   the   radio   to   the   antenna.   Going back   to   the   Nav   shop,   I   saw   they   had   opened   the case,   and   powered   up   some   instrument   that   looked like   an   HP   oscilloscope,   and   were   trying   it   out.   It   was   a Time    Domain    Reflectometer.    It    sent    pulses    down antenna   cables,   and   mapped   out   the   impedance   at   RF. It   was   the   first   and   only   time   I   had   seen   one,   and   it was exactly what I needed right then. Grabbing    the    set    and   Autopilot’s    100-foot    extension cord,   I   raced   out   to   the   aircraft   at   midnight,   hooked   up the   unit,   and   found   an   impedance   aberration   in   the cable   just   past   the   point   it   disappeared   into   heavily- modified   airframe.   Realizing   we   might   be   able   to   re- route   another   cable,   I   notified   the   crew   chief   about   the finding.   Looking   into   the   conditions   in   that   part   of   the airframe,   they   also   found   the   trouble   with   the   engine;   a bleed   valve,   installed   backwards   was   dumping   hot   air into    that    small    section    of    closed    airframe.   As    they reinstalled   the   bleed   valve,   we   found   another   way   to reroute   a   new   cable,   and   we   all   got   busy.   It   had   to   be in the air in about an hour. It   was   a   darn   cold   windy   night,   and   I   had   to   bring   the coaxial   cable   end   into   the   extended   hood   of   my   arctic parka   to   solder   the   tip   onto   the   connector.   Time   was up. The   plane   had   to   perform.   I   hooked   up   the   antenna while   they   ran   up   the   engines,   still   not   knowing   if   the system   would   work,   dragged   my   stuff   out   of   the   A/C, and   was   coiling   up   the   extension   cord   as   the   plane taxied   out.   I   didn’t   even   have   time   to   ops   check   the system. I guess the crew chief or pilot did it. The    plane    taxied    into    the    pre-morning    darkness.    I shuffled    back    to    the    shop,    put    the    stuff    away,    and trudged   to   the   barracks   as   the   sun   rose.   Nothing   was ever   said   by   my   boss,   but   it   was   my   last   hurrah   on   the flight   line.   I   was   immediately   taken   off   flight   line   duty and   put   into   the   shop,   where   I   could   be   watched,   I suppose,   and   do   the   homework   I   had   neglected   in order   to   get   my   5-level   skill   category   (I   was   still   a   3- level   at   the   tme).   Getting   to   do   that   was   a   great   treat for   me,   even   though   we   didn’t   talk   about   it.   I   miss   the excitement. George Kamburoff