The Historic Flight Foundation's DC-3 and the Museum of Flight's Boeing 247 in United livery.

The Historic Flight Foundation’s DC-3 and the Museum of Flight’s Boeing 247 in United livery

Seattle area folks – are you ready for another Paine Field Aviation Day?! Of course you are!

Last year was another amazing year. We were able to see so many planes, like the Boeing 247 and DC-3, mixed with a Boeing 787, AN-124 (happened to be there), Boeing 747-8I and many more.

Information from PaineField.com:

On Saturday, May 17, 2014, the Washington Pilots Association (WPA), Paine Field Airport, Flying Heritage Collection, and Historic Flight Foundation will host the 19th Annual Paine Field Aviation Day from 9am – 3pm.

This is the only Hamilton H-47 [first flown in 1928] in the world left flying. It was caught taking off from Paine Field with a Dreamlifter and 787 Dreamliner in the background.

This is the only Hamilton H-47 [first flown in 1928] in the world left flying. It was caught taking off from Paine Field with a Dreamlifter and 787 Dreamliner in the background.

Paine Field Aviation Day FAQs:

Our previous coverage:

Daunting, isn't it? 40 million passengers a day use the Tokyo transit system. Image: Tokyo Metro

Daunting, isn’t it? 40 million passengers a day use the Tokyo transit system. Image: Tokyo Metro

This is a bit of a different post for us, about something other than just airplanes, airports & airlines. Enjoy!  

It was early Thursday morning on my last day in Tokyo. It had been a whirlwind trip. Sunday and Monday had been taken up on the inaugural All Nippon Airways (ANA) flight from Vancouver (YVR) to Tokyo-Haneda (HND). I spent Tuesday at ANA’s New Employee Ceremony, and then explored HND’s observation decks. On Wednesday morning I was treated to a somewhat manic half-day bus tour of Tokyo. After that, I explored a bit, and went back to my hotel at HND’s Terminal 2 to get some work done, and to recover!

My start and end point - HND's International Terminal.

My start and end point – HND’s International Terminal

But now, I had the whole day to explore the city before returning to Haneda Airport’s International Terminal for my 9:55 pm flight. I had a long list of suggestions of things to see from friends and colleagues. Everyone had said that the best way to explore Tokyo is by transit, and I had my maps ready to go.

The statistics are phenomenal; 40 million passengers use Tokyo’s transit system, every day.  Most commuters travel on Tokyo’s extensive urban railway system, and eight million use the Tokyo Metro (subway) daily. There are over 130 lines and 1,000 stations on the fully-integrated rail system. No surprise, then, that the world’s busiest train station is in Tokyo, at Shinjuku Station, with over three million passengers per day.  The entire system is clean, efficient, inexpensive, and operates exactly on time, all the time.

However, there are a few things that an explorer needs to master before venturing out.

The ubiquitous C-2 that the  has become welcome sight on carrier decks. Photo: Paul Carter https://www.flickr.com/photos/planephotoman/3842118280/in/photolist-7NhiKj-7Nc2Ui-7NhisW-b797rx-7NhiSm-7NgybW-7S3Vju-7NdjrK-6RvRUC-arMQ9K-6QVgs6/

The ubiquitous C-2 that the has become a welcome sight on carrier decks – Photo: Paul Carter

Since 1966, the United States Navy has employed the venerable Grumman C-2 Greyhound as its main source of supplying their fleet of nuclear-powered aircraft carriers with a vital connection to the outside world. Known as the CODs (for Carrier Onboard Delivery), these aircraft transport personnel, spare parts, mail, and other necessities to the carriers from land.

The C-2, based on the Grumman E-2 Hawkeye AWACS platform, can carry up to 26 passengers or 10,000 pounds of cargo to and from an aircraft carrier. The mission of the C-2 has been considered one of the most important in the operations of an aircraft carrier. With the first of 17 C-2s delivered in 1966, and the last in 1968, by the early 80’s, the fleet was beginning to show its age and limitations.

The KC-130 flown by Lt Flatley departs the USS Forrestal on one of its 21 landings. Photo: US NAVY

KC-130 flown by Lt. Flatley departs the USS Forrestal after one of its 21 landings – Photo: US Navy

So, what does the C-2 have to do with airliners? In the early 1980’s, the US Navy put out a request for a new COD aircraft through the MMVX program. Various manufacturers tendered proposals, including Grumman, with an improved version of the C-2.  Lockheed offered a new, turbofan design derived from the S-3 Viking, and a few unusual proposals.

Fokker Aircraft, of the Netherlands, proposed a derivative of their successful F28 regional airliner, called the F28 Mk.5000. McDonnell Douglas proposed a navalized version of the venerable DC-9-10 airliner, and lastly, it appears as if Boeing proposed a carrier modification of the 737-200. While it might seem odd operating an aircraft the size of an airliner off of the small flight deck of an aircraft carrier, the concept was proven as possible nearly 20 years before the start of the MMVX program.

In November 1963, the Navy conducted tests to see if the idea of a “Super COD” was possible. These dramatic tests saw a crew, led by Lt. James Flatley, land a KC-130 on the deck of the USS Forrestal 21 times with no tailhook, and take off with no catapult assistance. These tests, while a success, proved that the C-130 was too large of an aircraft to routinely operate off of a carrier, and the Navy in the end procured the C-2.

For this story, I want to take a closer look at the proposed airliners which were made to handle carrier operations.