195 – Flying the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft
Guests: Arthur C. “Ace” Beall Host: Markus Voelter Shownoter: Kolja Dummann
The tail numbers NASA 911 and NASA 905 were used for the two Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, converted Boeing 747s that carried the shuttle between the landing sites and the launch complex at Kennedy Space Center. Our guest in this episode is Ace Beall who flew the SCAs for several years. We talk about operations, modifications on the airplane, the flight characteristics with and without the shuttle as well as some anecdotes from Ace’s time on the SCA.
Once again, I forgot to mention those of my listeners who suggested questions. I’m doing it here instead: Robert Kunov, Pieter Johnson, Bert Daanje, Thomas Tröndlin, Rob Thomasson, Jürgen Starek, Mathias Menzer, David Liaromatis, Georg Holderied, @schnassn, @alphadash0, Davide Sivolella and Evan Stanbury.
Here are two videos (number 2, number 1) I want to specifically link to, because it covers the Shuttle approach and landing tests, which we mentioned in the show:
Ace Beall introduces himself00:02:38
SOFIA | Northrop T-38 Talon | Lockheed C-141 Starlifter | Boeing KC-135 | Aero Spacelines Super Guppy | Grumman Gulfstream I
The Shuttle Carrier Aircraft00:05:18
Boeing 747 | Shuttle Landing Facility | Space Shuttle thermal protection system | Flight planning | Hypergolic propellant | Attach Fittings | Kelly Field Annex | Shuttle alternate landing sites | Grumman Gulfstream II | Lockheed C-5 Galaxy | Boeing C-17 Globemaster III | Tip fins | "Attach orbiter here. Note: black side down." | Fuel Inerting system | Evaluation of Fuel Tank Flammability and the FAA Inerting System on the NASA 747 SCA | Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center
Bank angle | Takeoff segments | Tail cone | Space Shuttle Enterprise | Antonov An-225 Mriya
A most informative and interesting episode Markus. I didn’t know a lot of the details Ace explained about the aircraft operations and flight envelope limitation, so thanks very much for making this interview. I’m rather surprised that all in all the SCA didn’t seem to bother too much about having an orbiter on the back. I hope one day to go to Huston to see the exhibition they have set up with NASA 905! NB: Ace said ha also flew the Super Guppy…any chance for a short interview on that too? The Super Guppy is one of my favourite aircraft! ;)
Yes, I was also surprised about the not caring too much about the orbiter. A good sign, I guess, for aircraft designers: it’s hard to really screw up aerodynamics :-)
Excellent pod cast. I enjoyed it a lot. I had the pleasure of seeing the SCA at JFK with the shuttle mounted on top. Massive!
There is a difference between 2 percent climb gradient and a 2 degree climb angle. Here is a definition:
b gradient is defined as the ratio of The increase of altitude to horizontal air distance expressed as a percentage ” therfore a still air distance.When relating the “climb gradient” to ground distance the correct term to be used is Flight Path Angle.. where can i find a good illustration or a firm refrence for this..
In short, percept is relative to 45 degrees, so the number is lower, right? But I don’t quite remember where in the podcast we mixed this up.
Another excellent interview, I really enjoyed this one.
eine wirklich coole story! man hat das gefühl, dabei gewesen zu sein!
danke! werner aus wien
Piloten eben :-)
Shuttle Carrier 747 – Objectivity #22
Shuttle Carrier 747 extra footage – Objectivity #22
thank you for the episode – a great view of an interesting airplane and a lot of details about and around the shuttle……I enjoyed listening very much and look forward to listen to your shows about flying…
This is the first time I have listened to your podcast. I found it on a link through Twitter. I was thourghly engaged and loved your questions. It was very interesting and I learned some things. Great job.
Very good episode Markus! Thanks
Great Episode, thanks :)
I habe pretty mich no knowledge of aircraft’s and everything surrounding them. Mostly I could still follow though :D . I only got lost when you started listing all of these types of airplane (e.g. that he flew) just by their code. No idea what kinds of planes these are… Some explanations would have been helpful here.
Yes … my usual problem. Once I’m “in the flow” in an aviation episode I forget to ask for (or provide myself) these kinds of clarifications. Sorry.
Wow, amamzing podcast. So interesting.
Outstanding interview. Your question were great and Ace gave exceptional detailed information. Very informative.