Making Hay While the Sun Don’t Shine

It was an opportunity not to be missed, so the flight test experts of the 418th Flight Test Squadron, Edwards AFB, Calif., sent AFRC’s Hurricane Hunters of the 53rd Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, Keesler AFB, Miss., into Hurricanes Irene and Katrina in a WC-130J with a specially modified propeller. The goal: determine if this propeller—with metal covers wrapped over the leading edge to protect the de-icing equipment—will in fact protect the blades from atmospheric erosion. If so, the new “taco” covers should reduce maintenance time on the unique aircraft. The WC-130J spent 21.5 hours in Katrina, penetrating the eye 10 times. The modified propeller performed “quite well,” said the 418th’s Maj. Frank Delsing.