Sikorsky CH-53K Simulator
January 6th, 2018
By: Dave Ames
It was a cold and windy morning, and Marcus (Zeke) Zechini has invited EAA Chapter 1031 members to visit a simulator for a Sikorsky CH-53E helicopter that is yet to be operational. It is estimated to be operational sometime in 2019.
Only three people volunteered to go on the first visit: Bob Jacobs, Bob Metcalfe and myself. We met at the White Post air field at 9:00AM, and Zeke drove us to Chantilly, VA where his office is located. The CH-53K King Stallion is a large, heavy lift cargo helicopter currently being develjoped by Sikorsky Aircraft for the United States Marine Corps (USMC). The design features three 7,500 shp engines, new composite rotor blades, and a wider aircraft cabin than previous CH-53 varianats. It will be the largest and heaviest helicopter in the U.S. military.
Crew: 5 - 2 pilots, 1 crew chief/right gunner, 1 left gunner, 1 tail gunner (combat crew) Capacity: 37 troops (55 with centerline seats installed Payload: 35,000 lbs. Length: 99 ft. 1/2 in. Rotor Diameter: 79 ft. Height: 27 ft. 9 in. Disc Area: 4,900 sq. ft. Empty Weight: 33,226 lbs. Loaded Weight: 74,000 lbs. Max Takeoff Weight: 84,700 lbs. Rotor Systems: 7 blades on main rotor (each 35 ft. x 35 in.), 4 blades on tail rotor Powerplant: 3 x General Electric GE38-1B turboshaft, 7500 shp each Performance:
Cruise Speed: 170 knots (196 mph) (that is really hauling a for a helicopter!) Range: 460 nmi (no reserves) Combat Radius: 110 nmi (126 miles) Service Ceiling: 14,400 ft. Rate of Climb: 2,500 ft./min. (Lets see you do that in your GA aircraft!) Armament:
Guns: 2 window-mounted 50 caliper machine guns 1 ramp-mounted 50 caliper machine gun Other: Chaff and flare dispensers We arrived at Zeke's company, and everyone signed in. We then looked around his office at all the pictures on the wall of all the aircarft for which Zeke's company has built simulators. They are now producing a full size replica simulator for the cockpit of the V-22 Osprey, a military tilt wing vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. We then got to the simulator for the CH-53K helicoper. We thought we would be seeing a bubble on hydralic cylinders, but Zeke told us that very few simulators now a days are built with hydralics, because they found that the benefits gained by the pilots were minimal in relationship to the huge additional cost.
Since everyone knew I was building a helicopter (but have had only about 2 hours of instructional time in one!), guess who got volunteered to be the first PIC, right ME! Zeke fired up the simulator and I managed to get into my seat (By the way if you think getting into Bob's Taylorcarft is a challenge just wait until you have to not step on anything critical the get into the PIC seat or the co-pilot's seat. Guess what Zeke also did just for me, he didn't set the crash override switch so when I would crash it was a real dissater, all the others got to be on crash override so never go to experience to thrill of crashing. When you sit in the cockpit and look at all the bells and whistles that four glass instument panels provide you with and the other guages and switches you feel a little overwhelmed. That is not to mention the hundreds of buttons (OK I exaggerated a little) on both the collective and cyclic sticks. By the way, the cyclic stick is not between your legs like all the other helicopters I have flown in, but is a joystick sitting to you right. Zeke already had the turbines fired up so we didn't have to go through the pre-flight and engine startup sequences which would have taken too much time. I took off from the field without too much difficulty and then gained altitude and air speed. The wonderful thing about this helicopter is the fly-by-wire capability it provides. Get to the altitude you want and then hit a button on the collective and the ship locks that altitude no matter what crazy flying you do. Also when you reach the airspeed you want, push a button on the cyclic stick and it keeps that airspeed as well. You can override these settings by forcing the collective and cyclic into new positions and when you do it keeps those new settings in its memory. So I flew around for while and then can back to the field to land. Allll, landing is whole new experience. I almost got the helicopter back on the runway, but at the last moment I crashed and burned! It was a spectacular site! Bob Jacobs was sitting in the co-pilots seat while I flew. Then Bob Metcalfe got into the PIC seat and did quite well. Took off and flew out to the coast where he found an aircraft carrier and attempted to land. Ah, but we believe one of the rotor blades hit the side of ship, but remember, Bob can't crash like me so it simply left him out over the water. After that Bob decided to go over to the beach and land. He got to the beach, but alas, he also didn't quite make it down safely to land. Then it was Bob Jacobs turned and I sat in the co-pilots seat. Bob did quite well and got off the ground and flew out to the seashore as well. Tried has hand at landing on the carrier and finallly decided to go to the beach as well and attempt a landing. He got close but didn't quite get down to the ground in one piece. The Zeke took the PIC seat and showed us all how it was done. He took off and flew in formation with another CH-52K for a number of miles and then went out to sea to try and land on a cruiser. Remember, the two Bob's were trying to land on a BIG decked aircraft carrier, whereas, Zeke was landing on the rear of a much smaller ship. Now Zeke didn't have any of the varibles he could have put into the system such as wind, waves, etc., but he landed quite comfortably on the back of the cruiser and then took off to refueling in the air from a KC-130 tanker (YES, I did say refuel a helicopter in the air!). Zeke found the tanker and we approched the two refueling baskets hanging behind each wing tip of the Tanker ( if I can I have a picture of this happening in real life). Now remember, the rotors of the CH-53K are almost 40 feet from the centerline of the helicopter, so this is a really touchy exercise for both the helicopter and the tanker. Zeke hit the basket a number of times but there was a glich in the software and the refueling boom on the CH just went magically through the basket instead of hitting it to the side or backwards. If you look at the pictures of the CH-53K that I hope to load successfully, you will see a boom sticking out the front of this ship. When you approch the tanker, you hit a switch and the boom extends another number of feet giving a little safety factor, but not much. Zeke then flew around Washington, DC for a while and then flew to Winchester airport and went by my house and the air strip in Boyce where we left from and Zeke landed there and we were finished.
I can't thank Zeke enough for allowing us to see and use this simulator. It was an experience I know I will never forget the rest of my life. I also encourage everyone else in Chapter 1031 to avail themselves of this opportunity. You will never forgive yourself if you miss it.
Refueling while lifing a Hummer
Cargo Bay with a Hummer loading