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  Final Flight: NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 911

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Author Topic:   Final Flight: NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 911
X-Plane Fan
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From: CA, USA
Registered: Jul 2007

posted 02-08-2012 10:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for X-Plane Fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center release
NASA's Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 911's Final Flight

One of NASA's two modified Boeing 747s that were modified for use as space shuttle carrier aircraft, NASA 911, made its final flight Feb. 8. The big four-engine converted jumbo jet's final mission was a short flight lasting only about 20 minutes from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base to the Dryden Aircraft Operations Facility adjacent to Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale.


Credit: NASA/Tony Landis

Above: NASA 911, one of two modified Boeing 747s that were modified for use as Shuttle Carrier Aircraft for the space shuttles, lands at Air Force Plant 42 in Palmdale Feb. 8 after its final flight, a short hop from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base.

The converted jetliner will be retired and used as a source of parts to keep NASA's Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) Boeing 747SP aircraft and the remaining Shuttle Carrier Aircraft, NASA 905, flying.

NASA 905 will be used to ferry the remaining space shuttles to the cities of their final display venues, including the National Air and Space Museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Washington, D.C. (Discovery), the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City (Enterprise) and the California Science Center in Los Angeles (Endeavour).

NASA 911, a Boeing 747-100SR short range version, was the second Shuttle Carrier Aircraft. It was built in November 1973 and was flown in commercial airline service by Japan Air Lines for about 15 years. It was obtained by NASA in 1989 and after modifications by The Boeing Co., it was delivered to NASA on Nov. 20, 1990 to serve as a carrier aircraft for the space shuttles for the next 21 years.

Including its final flight, NASA 911 amassed 33,004.1 flight hours over its more than 38-year flying career.


Credit: NASA/Tony Landis

Above: Jeff Moultrie, Bob Zimmerman and Henry Taylor of Johnson Space Center's Aircraft Operations Directorate took a brief moment for the photographer in the flight deck of NASA Shuttle Carrier Aircraft 911 after crewing its final flight.

Aztecdoug
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From: Huntington Beach
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posted 02-09-2012 02:43 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Aztecdoug   Click Here to Email Aztecdoug     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Sigh.

onesmallstep
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From: Staten Island, New York USA
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posted 02-09-2012 04:21 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for onesmallstep   Click Here to Email onesmallstep     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Did Gordon Fullerton, currently retired and recovering from a stroke, fly both SCAs after joining NASA Dryden? Hope they have a plaque or some other notation put up inside both a/c noting their long history..

X-Plane Fan
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posted 02-09-2012 05:08 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for X-Plane Fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Gordo made several flights in both of the 747 SCA's. There is nothing inside 911 that shows off its history. There wasn't even a ceremony for 911's final flight.

If all goes well, 905 should have a photo display inside the aircraft showing its long history when they begin museum deliveries later this year.

Skylon
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posted 02-09-2012 05:24 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I hope 905 at least gets a museum spot somewhere (Dryden?). As she carried all six orbiters, and flew the ALT missions.

music_space
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From: Canada
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posted 02-10-2012 08:26 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for music_space   Click Here to Email music_space     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
With both aircraft out of commission, will it ever be possible to move any of the orbiters to other eventual locations?

Cozmosis22
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From: Texas * Earth
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posted 02-10-2012 08:44 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Cozmosis22     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
As noted elsewhere on this site if memory serves, NASA plans to keep SCA-905 in service for the foreseeable future even beyond moving orbiters to their respective museum destinations.

garyd2831
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From: Syracuse, New York, USA
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posted 02-10-2012 09:01 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for garyd2831   Click Here to Email garyd2831     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Personally I would love to see SA-905 back in its original red, white and blue striping as it did when it was delivered from American Airlines and when it was in use for the ALT. Something about that paint scheme screams America and the its significant history to the shuttle program.

Robert Pearlman
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posted 02-10-2012 09:54 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
collectSPACE
NASA retires space shuttle-carrying jumbo jet after short final flight

One of only two planes that carried NASA's space shuttles piggy-back on cross-country rides was retired this week after more than 20 years of service.

psloss
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posted 02-10-2012 02:37 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for psloss   Click Here to Email psloss     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by X-Plane Fan:
If all goes well, 905 should have a photo display inside the aircraft showing its long history when they begin museum deliveries later this year.
Are you referring to the string of pictures they had inside on short stands to show to tour groups? They at least had that in 911 a couple of years ago when they gave me a tour.

astro-nut
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From: washington, Illinois USA
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posted 02-12-2012 03:22 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for astro-nut   Click Here to Email astro-nut     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Does anyone know who the first pilots were to fly NASA911/SCA?

X-Plane Fan
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posted 02-12-2012 07:38 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for X-Plane Fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The first crews to fly 911 were:
  • First flight after SCA mod- 9/25/90 – crew- Arthur Beall-CP, Joe Algranti– FP, Louis ‘Skip’ Guidry Jr.- F/E, Dan Hill- F/E

  • First ferry flight (OV-105 first leg, Palmdale, CA to Biggs, TX)- 5/3/91 – crew- Arthur Beall-CP, David Mumme-FP, Frank Marlow-FP, Henry Taylor- F/E, Larry Larose- F/E
Note that Henry Taylor was also the F/E on the final flight of 911 as well as the first ferry flight.

machbusterman
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From: Dunfermline, Fife, Scotland
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posted 02-14-2012 02:04 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for machbusterman   Click Here to Email machbusterman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I was fortunate enough (along with Mark Janovec and our partners) to be allowed access to the cockpit of 911 at the 2009 Open House and airshow at Edwards AFB.

Mark snapped the pic below of me sitting in the pilot's seat.

p51
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From: Olympia, WA, USA
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posted 02-14-2012 09:27 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I've got to ask the question, once 911 is gutted and a hangar queen, what happens if something bad happens to 905?

I can hear it now, "I'm awfully sorry we signed off the title to these shuttles to you museums, but we have no way to transport them now and there's no way congress will give us the money to get another 747 mounted correctly..."

X-Plane Fan
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posted 02-15-2012 09:03 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for X-Plane Fan     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Currently the only parts that are authorized to be removed from 911 are the engines which are in need of rebuild anyways. Not long ago, the good engines from 911 were pulled and put on 905. Until the last orbiter is delivered and 905 is retired, 911 is a primary source for spare parts to keep 905 going. After that, it becomes the spare parts bird for SOFIA.

p51
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posted 02-15-2012 10:01 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for p51   Click Here to Email p51     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Yeah, I get the idea of a hangar queen, I really do. But the question still remains; what happens if the flying 747 has some kind of issue (or God forbid, has a landing of flight accident that either crashes it outright or renders it non-flyable afterward)? That would mean the shuttles stay where they are forever and always. There's no way you could send them any other way than on the back of those 747s.

APG85
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posted 02-16-2012 12:24 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for APG85     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
I'm guessing, but I have to assume that once the shuttles are in-place in their new homes, they are not intended to be moved again. Keeping a unique 747 in flyable storage for years "just in case" would be cost prohibitive not to mention the crew qualifications that would have to be maintained...

Skylon
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posted 02-16-2012 05:06 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Skylon     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
quote:
Originally posted by p51:
That would mean the shuttles stay where they are forever and always. There's no way you could send them any other way than on the back of those 747s.
Barge? Road? All the orbiters except Endeavour were transported from Palmdale, after assembly, to Edwards via road (even though it required making sure the orbiters would clear all signs and power lines on the roads).

As noted, keeping the SCA's around just in case somewhere down the road somebody wants a shuttle moved would not be cost effective.

If one needs to be moved, it'll be moved - but I doubt you'll see a shuttle move very far from where it ends up.

Jay Chladek
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From: Bellevue, NE, USA
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posted 03-08-2012 04:56 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Jay Chladek   Click Here to Email Jay Chladek     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
Enterprise as I recall was also barged for a short distance to its display site for the World's Fair in New Orleans.

Planes have been transported by ground before. At the Strategic Air and Space Museum, they got the main pieces of the B-1 sent to them by road after an agreement was reached with the USAF museum. The largest piece was the main fuselage section, which was almost as big as a shuttle orbiter itself. Besides, if rocket stages can be shipped down the river system from the Ohio river valley to Cape Canaveral AFS for launch, I think if push came to shove an orbiter certainly could be sent the other way and then trucked overland to a final destination if a need came up.

I think the flight orbiters will be fine at their final destinations. It is Intrepid and Enterprise I have the most concern with, but we shall see what happens.

When all is said and done, a few year down the road, I am curious as to what will happen to 911's SCA struts and vertical end plates on the elevators. I imagine for the near term they will be used as structural spares for 905, but when the day eventually comes for 905 to be retired, those struts from 911 would make nice museum pieces as well.

Hart Sastrowardoyo
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From: Toms River, NJ,USA
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posted 03-08-2012 09:23 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Hart Sastrowardoyo   Click Here to Email Hart Sastrowardoyo     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
What happened to that 76-wheeled transporter which would be used to move orbiters between the Vandenberg landing strip and the processing center? I know (or believe) it moved to KSC, but what after that?

Robert Pearlman
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posted 03-08-2012 09:38 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for Robert Pearlman   Click Here to Email Robert Pearlman     Edit/Delete Message   Reply w/Quote
The 76-wheel Orbiter Transporter was moved to Kennedy Space Center and used during the space shuttle program to transport the vehicles between the orbiter processing facilities and Vehicle Assembly Building.

The Orbiter Transporter should not be confused with the Overland Transporter, which was used to move orbiters between Palmdale and Dryden. The latter is being shipped to Los Angeles to move Endeavour from Los Angeles International Airport to the California Science Center later this year.

All times are CT (US)

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