From the Stars and Stripes archives

Transport really wings it

Water from the edge of the runway is drawn in a vortex into the engine intake of a prototype YC-14 AMST (Advanced Medium Short Takeoff and Landing Transport) — a would-be successor to the C-130 Hercules — during a demonstration at Heidelberg Army Airfield in June, 1977.



RAMSTEIN, Germany — The Air Force is looking for a replacement for the C130 transport airplane, and one of the contenders for the job has arrived here for operational tests.

The plane is a prototype called the YC14, an Advanced Medium STOL (Short Takeoff and Landing) Transport (AMST) designed for the Air Force by the Boeing Aerospace Co. It has been undergoing tests at a number of air bases and fields in the United Kingdom and Germany.

According to the YC14's test director and primary pilot, Col. Kent Davidson, the AMST aircraft are designed to do the same job as the C130 — "logistical resupply and battlefield mobility for troops in combat," but he says the AMST does it better.

Davidson said the YC14 takes off and lands in about half the distance of a C130. By using a unique STOL concept, the 132-foot long, 140,000-pound (without cargo) transport literally jumps into the air after using only 700 feet of runway. With a 27,000-pound payload it can operate from 2,000-foot runways, or lift 50,000 pounds (twice the load of a C130) from longer runways.

The YC14 can fly faster, accelerate and decelerate faster than a C130 and has a very high climb capability, "much like a fighter aircraft," said Davidson. "It can fly very deep descents, so we can minimize our exposure to hostile fire merely by getting in and out of an airfield quicker than a C130," he said.

AMST aircraft are also the first medium-sized transports with fully powered hydraulic systems. These systems help keep the aircraft extremely stable in flight.

"The plane automatically trims itself all the time," said Davidson. "You can take off, pull the gear, pull the flaps, put the nose on — say a 15-degree pitch attitude — leave the throttle in takeoff thrust and go all the way up to 350 knots and never have to touch a trim button." He also said the plane's high-speed, low-altitude flight is smooth and stable when compared to the ride of a C130 under similar conditions.

The YC14 can land on short fields at speeds as low as 98 m.p.h. or cruise at 460 m.p.h., according to Boeing's specifications. It is powered by two shoulder-mounted fanjet engines which develop up to 50,000 pounds of thrust and are mounted on top of wings that measure 129 feet from tip to tip.

The cargo compartment is large enough to carry eight fully loaded Army jeeps, plus the personnel who ride in them. "It can move all the combat equipment the U.S. Army has ... all that are too big for the C130," said Air Force Col. Samuel J. Kishline, director of the AMST program. The transport also can taxi in reverse and back up a three-percent grade to unload cargo.

Another AMST prototype, the McDonnell Douglas YC15, finished its operational tests last September. The YC14's test program will end in August. It is expected that one of the aircraft will be selected for a development program that will lead to the production version of the AMST in the mid-1980s, according to Kishline.

The YC14 will return to the U.S. on Monday after a weekend appearance at the International Air Show in Paris. Operational testing will continue at Langley AFB, Va.; Pope AFB, N.C., and Scott AFB, Ill.

Other stops in the YC14's European operational tests included RAF Mildenhall in the United Kingdom, and Rhein-Main AB and Heidelberg Army Airfield in Germany.

Three-year-old Sonja Hashing covers her ears as the YC-14 transport plane in the background reverses its engines during a demonstration at the Heidelberg Army Airfield in 1977.

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