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Seahawk flightline - need help from those in the know ...
brayzen
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January 5, 2011 - 10:01 pm
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I’m currently working on a painting that depicts the BattleCats from HSL-43 … focused on the flightline at the North Island NAS San Diego, CA.

Please look at the photos below – trying to define what the hand signals mean … looks like 2 fingers pointing on right hand and a closed fist on the left hand.

Any help will be appreciated!! 😯

complete photo

feel free to answer here or you can send a pm … 8)

Charles McHugh
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January 6, 2011 - 8:50 am
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In the RAF, a clenched fist is “Brakes on” as opposed to a flat palm being “Brakes off”.
Fingers, one or two (held vertically) indicate engines. But the ground guy could be ‘pointing’.

The only hand signals associated with closing down helicopters we would employ would be if the aircraft rotor head had ‘droop stops’ that were in any way unreliable in engaging.

There is no certain answer I can give from this side of the pond but I can speculate that he may be pointing at the chocks on the aircrafts left wheel. Aircraft signals are pretty much international in content although the US is known for its gregarious pesentation of them on regular occasion. My gut feeling is that this is either a ground run (test) or a start sequence pre-flight, and in either event, I am surprised that the ground engineer is not attached to a long lead intercom.

A confusing aspect concerns the direction of his head, he is not looking at the aircraft or pilot, he is looking left of the airframe. So wondering if he is suggesting to ‘hold’ (close-down) for two mins, due perhaps to another aircraft about to land. Helicopters do not usually stop rotors if there is a threat from adjacent downwash due to blade sail or the blade flapping up and down uncontolled.

His head protection is green which is a good time to remind us all what the Navy Rainbow consists of:

On US carriers the flight deck crew – here called “rainbow sideboys” – are wearing coloured flight deck jerseys in order to identify their trades in the noise:

Yellow: Aircraft handling officers, Catapult and Arresting Gear Officers, Plane directors

Green: Catapult and arresting gear crews, Air wing maintenance personnel, Air wing quality control personnel, Cargo-handling personnel, Ground Support Equipment (GSE) troubleshooters, Hook runners, Photographer’s Mates, Helicopter landing signal enlisted personnel (LSE)

White: Squadron plane inspectors, Landing Signal Officer (LSO), Air Transfer Officers (ATO), Liquid Oxygen (LOX) crews, Safety Observers, Medical personnel

Red: Ordnancemen, Crash and Salvage Crews, Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)

Blue: Plane Handlers, Aircraft elevator Operators, Tractor Drivers, Messengers and Phone Talkers

Purple: aviation fuel handlers

Brown: Air wing plane captains, Air wing line leading petty officers

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mig15
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January 6, 2011 - 12:34 pm
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Ready for take off is one hand up in a fist and a thumb up.
Ready to engage rotars is fist and a index finger in right hand rotating.
Engage Rotars is right hand only as to above.

I can only summise, engine two is not lit, no visable turbine exhaust, so not sure if the seahawk/blackhawk engine start is like the gazelle where you start the engine before engaging the blades, wheres as on the 500 they start as soon as the engine starts.. So if that is not the case he is signalling engine two start and monitoring.

Charles McHugh
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January 6, 2011 - 4:01 pm
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Engine No 2 start would be like this with 2 fingers visible:

Index and middle fingers extended can indicate APU but are used in company with left hand signals that do not include a clenched fist.

The nearest formal signal concerns winch operation but even that involves a flattened right hand palm up or down. The signals that Mig15 referes to should be done with hands at or above head height not at waist height.

Check ou the following and make your own mind up:
http://www.globalsecurity.org/…..564/AA.HTM

I am now wondering if this is a winch wash in progress. They would winch out with another engineer walking the cable away from the aircraft (out of picture to the right – where as previously mentioned, the engineer is looking. This would be done after winching in salt water. The cable has to be ‘walked’ to maintain tension and avoid spagetti cableing or ‘birds nesting’ of the wire when it is wound in.
If you look at the right side of the stabilizer and then against the distant building go up just a fraction, you can see a feint line that could be the wire. There is a change of roof angle there yet the ‘line’ passes through undisturbed. (Level with the top of the holes in the stabilizer)

brayzen
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January 6, 2011 - 6:11 pm
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Thanks for the answer(s)!! The flight line was incredibly busy – it was really hard to hear what was going on … from what I could tell, it looked like the bird was spinning up the second turbine – it was several minutes before the chocks were removed and the seahawk taxied away to a part of the area I couldn’t see – never saw it airborne.

Charles – here is another overall shot I took just before “zooming in” for the shots above …

Thanks again for all the information – it definitely helps me with my composition … I don’t want to include anything “questionable” 😎

Here’s a shot taken from across the harbor … not easy to see – but there are entire of flocks of seahawks … their carriers were dockside being re-fitted and supplied.

Charles McHugh
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January 6, 2011 - 11:44 pm
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If it is anything like the Bell 412 Griffin (Griffon – Canada) starting the engines is the easy bit, the 30 mins first start of the day checks that follow is the nightmare. ….and if the Outside Air Temp is cold, the (additional) checks make that even longer. Chocks can usually be removed once the hydraulics have been checked and brake pressure confirmed. It is normally recomended that they be gone before autopilot checks as there is a risk of ground resonance causing a rollover, though that would have to be massive in a low relative CofG aircraft such as the SH60. I have flown with the USMC (B212 & CH53-MCAS New River NC) and witnessed the groundcrew actions which are very differant from the formality I am familiar with in the UK. A camera can easily capture a moment such as this where not all is as black and white as a flightline normally is.

There is no apparent exhaust from the No1 engine whereas there clearly is from the No 2. A Seahawk does have an APU but I do not know where it is located. The rotors would only be turning with at least one main engine engaged and in this case it appears to be the No 2. There appears to be a heat haze in front of the No1 engine suggesting that either the helicopter is parked downwind or that the APU exhaust is forward left on the transmission deck. Must be somebody around here who knows the Seahawk.

It is common to alternate which engine is started first on multi engined aircraft on a for example odd days No 1 even days No 2 to even out wear and tear on the powerplants, so a no 2 engine running alone is not unusual on start.

brayzen
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January 8, 2011 - 4:42 am
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Charles – Thanks for all the effort you put into this!! It’s been enlightening for me and it has allowed me to finish my comp. 8)

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GarethHector
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January 8, 2011 - 2:15 pm
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Great to see the Seahawk getting the painted treatment…good luck with your endeavour πŸ™‚

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