Major Charles E. Fitzwater was named to be the flight test pilot and act as the Commander of the project, to be known as U.S. Air Force Task Force Slide. Major Fitzwater was selected for this job because of his previous aircraft-on-ski experience at Bemidji as test pilot on the Grumman SA-16A in 1956 and the Fairchild C-123J prototype in 1957.


The civilian airport at Bemidji was used as a home base for all snow work, which was conducted on frozen lakes within a 50 nautical mile radius of Bemidji. Prior to the departure of the C-130A from the Bemidji airport for a test flight, a ski-equipped Cessna 180 aircraft (operated with a contract by the airport operator) was dispatched to the operating area to check snow conditions, wind and ice thickness. The light plane was also used as liaison support to and from the test site and to obtain the C-130A takeoff and landing distances.


A total of 18 hours and 10 minutes of flight-testing was accomplished during which 46 ski landings and 47 ski takeoffs were made, including four RATO (rocket assisted takeoff) takeoffs. One landing was made on the snow with the skis retracted.


Landings and takeoffs presented no particular operational problems. The pilot technique used for the ski takeoffs and landings was similar to that normally used for maximum performance of the aircraft. No unusual control forces or their handling problems were encountered during the tests. The aircraft exhibited a tendency to skid during the landing made with the skis retracted. This was probably because the wheels penetrated the thin snow through to the ice, and lacked the directional stability of the skis.

During the initial flight of the aircraft on skis at Bemidji, which was conducted on 50% bare, rough ice at a gross weight of 85,000 pounds, permanent deformation to the main skis in the tangent area of their bows occurred. That damage consisted of buckling and slight tears to its internal webbing. The deformation progressed slightly during the next flight, which was conducted at 90,000 pounds gross weight. The condition was inspected after each succeeding flight but no further progression was observed. In addition to the reported deformation, the cap strips on the inboard edges of the main skis popped rivets at numerous points periodically throughout the tests. The cap strips were secured by the addition of numerous Jobolts. All ski repairs were accomplished without the use of wing jacks. Jacking of the aircraft was accomplished by the use of twelve 3-inch by 8-inch timbers 10-feet long. The procedure used consisted of placing timbers under a ski when it was in the "ski retracted" position and then extending the skis. That caused the wheels to rise off the ground as the skis extended. More timbers were placed under the wheels and the skis were further retracted. The procedure was repeated until the aircraft was raised to the required height to enable repairs



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