Fort Rucker: A Case Study

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HQDA detailers received complaints from commanders concerning placements quality for Training and Combat Development Directorates at Fort Rucker. They wanted CGSC graduates. I found it interesting that they chose a passed over Major to solve that problem. And DA told me this was my only promotion opportunity but by now, I realized that what they said was not what they meant. But the options were scarce, and I was within three years of retirement. Enterprise, Alabama was a low-cost area, and I might be able to get a flight instructor or a maintenance officer job after retirement. We went to Enterprise in December 1982, found a lot, designed a house similar, but even better than our Fresno house, and began building. It was on a quiet cul-de-sac…show more content…
The first was the XV-15 TiltRotor. It was an aircraft that hovered like a helicopter, and then transitioned its large rotors forward to become a turbo-prop airplane, breaking the 150 knot barrier. It exceeded 250 knots and was smooth and stable weapon’s platform. The LHX was supposed to be under 9,000 pounds and the XV-15 was that with 25’ diameter rotors and two 1800 SHP engines. The XV-15 experimental aircraft introduced a major design concept advancement: instead of engines in the fuselage, the XV-15 moved the engines out to the rotating wingtip pods, directly coupled to the rotors. The normal power path was directly from the engine into a speed-reduction gearbox and into the rotor without any vulnerable shafts involved. A driveshaft remained in the wings for emergency use to transfer power to the opposite rotor in case of a single engine failure, but that shaft did not normally carry any power loads, making it lighter. Colonel Burnett picked me to fly the aircraft perhaps because I had test flight…show more content…
Helicopters have complex rotor heads so they can maneuver without getting into catastrophic rotor loads and in flight failures. Every time a blade rotates it moves forward and back, up and down and torsionally increases and decreases its blade attack angle. The purpose of the 680 rotor system was to eliminate all the rotor head bearings by using specifically designed flexible fiberglass rotor head. A 7500 pound, twin engine helicopter was used to test the concept. The aircraft started and hovered like most other modern helicopters and was as smooth as an AH-1G. Forward flight was also extremely smooth up to the never exceed speed. What set it apart from other aircraft I had flown was its maneuverability. Loops and rolls were now feasible and there was only one other aircraft (a rigid rotor) that could do that at the time. My overall impression was that if I was looking for a close combat air-to-air helicopter, this would be a viable candidate. But there were no other outstanding characteristics and we weren’t looking for an air-to-air combat helicopter. To make matters worse, the loads caused the rotor yoke delaminated while we were on the test flight due to the extreme maneuvers we put the aircraft through. When we conducted the post flight the delamination in the yoke was large enough to stick in a pencil. Much to my amazement, however, the test pilot deemed it flyable and took off for the 700 mile cross country

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