by Lt. Col. Nathan Allerheiligen
6/15/2010 - JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq (AFNS) -- After overcoming multiple mechanical problems, a C-130H Hercules crew from 777th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron safely landed their aircraft with 34 passengers aboard June 9 here.
The four-engine tactical airlifter was dispatched from Joint Base Balad to transport passengers on a half-hour flight from Baghdad International Airport to Erbil, Iraq. After reaching an altitude of 12,000 feet on the climb out of Baghdad, loadmasters Senior Airmen John Pittman and Kevin Tidd reported a severe hydraulic leak to Capt. Matt Mansell, the aircraft commander.
Several gallons of caustic hydraulic fluid sprayed into the air inside the cabin before the, 1st Lt. Brian Fedor, the co-pilot, could shut off the pumps. Crewmembers helped passengers don emergency oxygen hoods to protect their eyes and respiratory system from the caustic mist.
Lt. Col. Maurice Young, a flight surgeon from the 55th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron who was flying with the crew, provided first aid to the passengers who had been most affected by the leak.
The aircrew determined that the leak was from the primary hydraulic system, which operates the landing gear, flaps, brakes and nose wheel steering, as well as providing half of the flight-control power.
Staff Sgt. Jason Carlton, a flight engineer, referenced his emergency checklists and used manual procedures to lower the landing gear and flaps in preparation for landing.
Initial problems lowering the landing gear raised concerns that there had also been a leak the emergency nose gear extension system and emergency brakes. The aircrew was able to confirm the gear was down and locked, and the aircraft was safe to land.
Captain Mansell and his crew brought the aircraft to a successful landing at JB Balad, with only partial power to the flight controls and no anti-skid braking.
Passengers were evaluated by medical care providers from the 332nd Expeditionary Medical Group and released. A second C-130 from the 777th EAS flew the passengers to their destination in Erbil.