Herculean Response to In-Flight Emergency

A C-130 flight crew from the Arkansas Air National Guard’s 189th Airlift Wing last month applied their collective experience of more than 13,000 hours in flight to avert an in-air catastrophe. “Props 76,” a 1963-vintage C-130E, had taken off Sept. 9 from Little Rock AFB, Ark., just seconds before the aircraft’s four engines lost power, dropping from 15,000 inch-pounds of torque to 10,000 inch-pounds of torque, and causing the empty cargo aircraft to stop climbing. “You just don’t see malfunctions that affect all four motors,” said Maj. Dean Martin, 154th Training Squadron instructor pilot and aircraft commander on the fateful mission. Essentially what had happened—which the crew didn’t know at the time—was that a contact on an electrical bus had failed. To stave off a crash, the crew quickly took manual control of the engines. This prevented them from flaming out and they eventually came back to life, allowing Martin, along with co-pilot Lt. Col. Rich McGough and flight engineer MSgt. Doug McGroarty, to turn the aircraft around and land it safely at the base. The C-130E was impounded for two weeks to find out what happened. It is now back in service. The wing alerted other Hercules units of the potential danger. (Little Rock report by MSgt. Bob Oldham)