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Testing a prototype HS camera 
by: Steve Fritts
During one of my many missions (I have about 5,000 hrs, and a few million miles or so), I was testing a prototype high speed camera system. The camera mount was located just inside the paratroop doorway (portside) of a WC-130E aircraft. The camera itself was mounted on a balanced gimble, which was connected to a framework and a seat on the floor of the aircraft. The operator, me, wore a harness that was clipped to a D-ring in the floor. Before takeoff, part of the checklist had us test the length of the harness by standing in the doorway and leaning forward, and adjusting so that we could not go beyong the edge of the door. I performed all the checklist items, but, of course this was still a prototype system first test. So, there I was, at 22,000 feet with the door open, sitting in the camera chair, with my feet propped on each edge of the door.

I wore my helmet and mask (HGU-26P/MBU-5P), NOMEX flightsuit, and winter jacket over long underwear. My right boot slipped off the edge, into the slipstream, and it was so strong, it pulled me halfway out of the door and pinned me to the fuselage! I could not reach the microphone button attached to the camera yoke, so no one could hear me! I flailed around and saw my fellow crewmen huddled together with their backs to me, oblivious to what was going on! Man, it was getting real cold! The others eventually noticed me and rushed over, and pulled me in. What a relief! I must say though the view was magnificent! After the fact! Anyway, we had forgotten some elementary geometry. Adjusting the harness while standing is one thing, but the angle and length changes when you sit down. was lucky I only went halfway out! Needless to say, we changed the checklist!


"Venz" /  "Hud"  flightgear on-line 2002/2003