DC-8 08/26/13 - 08/27/13

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Flight Number: 
Payload Configuration: 
Nav Data Collected: 
Total Flight Time: 
7.7 hours
Flight Segments: 
Start:08/26/13 18:07 Z Finish:08/27/13 01:47 Z
Flight Time:7.7 hours
Log Number:138301PI:Kent Shiffer
Funding Source:Hal Maring - NASA - SMD - ESD Radiation Science Program
Purpose of Flight:Science
Comments:Purpose of Flight: Science flight (wild fire smoke from California & Idaho) Aircraft Status: Airworthy. Sensor Status: SEAC4RS instrument payload; all instruments operated Significant Issues: None Accomplishments: Suit case flight out of Ellington Airport, TX to Spokane, WA. Initial climb to FL340 headed west towards Las Vegas, NV. Fly at altitudes FL360, FL260, & back to FL340. Southeast of Linden, CA arrive at WP1 at 2122Z and descend to FL330 to overfly California smoke plumes. Setup to fly data wall NW/SE northeast of Reno, NV. Descending to 12,000ft MSL level at 2149Z. Start wall at 2156Z to SE, NW at 2206Z still at 12,000ft MSL. Descend to 9,000ft MSL starting wall to SE at 2223Z. Complete wall at 2231Z and setup for low approach to NAS Fallon, NV. Low approach to 500ft AGL at 2243Z (lidar/APR-2/ cameras off while in Fallon Range area). Proceed SW flying in smoke plumes upwind toward California fires at 15,000ft MSL, 16,000ft MSL, 14,000ft. Reverse course at 2311Z to fly NE bound in smoke plume at 14,000ft MSL. At 2336Z descend to 12,000MSL continuing NE in smoke plume. West of Boise, ID fly data wall on N/S track at FL200 (0012Z), 12,000ft MSL (0023Z), 2100ft AGL (0035Z). Proceed to WP5 NW of Boise, ID to overfly fire at FL200 & 13,000ft AGL. At 0113Z climb to FL250 to overfly fire sites in route to Spokane, WA. Land at Spokane, WA. Takeoff time: 238 18 07 11 Landing time: 239 01 47 41
Flight Hour Summary: 
Flight Hours Approved in SOFRS187
Total Used180.6
Total Remaining6.4
138301 Flight Reports
Date Flt # Purpose of Flight Duration Running Total Hours Remaining Miles Flown
08/02/13 - 08/03/13130602Check4.15.9181.1
08/06/13 - 08/07/13130604Science8.719.6167.4
08/08/13 - 08/09/13130605Science7.827.4159.6
08/26/13 - 08/27/13130612Science7.782.6104.4
08/27/13 - 08/28/13130613Science8.791.395.7
08/30/13 - 08/31/13130614Science7.999.287.8
09/21/13 - 09/22/13130623Science9.1173.113.9
09/23/13 - 09/24/13130624Transit7.5180.66.4

Flight Reports began being entered into this system as of 2012 flights. If there were flights flown under an earlier log number the flight reports are not available online.

Related Science Report: 

SEAC4RS - DC-8 08/26/13 - 08/27/13 Science Report

Mission Summary: 

DC-8 26 Aug Flight Report


The primary objective of this flight was to sample smoke from wildfires in CA and ID.  DC-8 flew alone by plan, which turned out to be a wise decision as Houston weather caused the ER-2 to scrub its NAM mission scheduled for the same day.  Our flight plan included a long transit leg at maximum altitude from Houston to the Rim fire (next to Yosemite park) to characterize the UT along the southern edge of the NAM anticyclone, followed by an HSRL leg ~ 115 miles long down the axis of the plume from the Rim fire.  A wall perpendicular to the plume axis was set up north of Reno, passing over Pyramid Lake for part of each leg, followed by a missed approach at Fallon.  We were directed to fly in the smoke from Fallon back toward the fire as far as possible, then turn toward Boise ID where another wall was planned.  After the second wall we targeted the Little Queens and Incendiary Creek fires primarily to assess whether it would be possible to work either of these fires with the DOE G-1 the following day.  We then proceeded to Spokane, WA for overnight stay.


The west bound leg at high altitude was more or less along one of the streamers associated with the anti-cyclone, so no large gradients were anticipated, and none were observed.  About an hour east of the fire we flew over an extensive region of cirrostratus and dipped down to 26 kft to sample those clouds for 5 minutes, then returned to 34 kft to set up the first pass over the Rim fire. 


The fire was producing at least 3 convective towers with tops near 25 kft, so we planned to do the HSRL leg at 33 kft in order to observe the clouds and smoke with both DIAL/HSRL and APR2.  As we approached the fire DIAL/HSRL announced they had a problem and requested we delay by orbiting south of the fire, a restart of DIAL did not go smoothly so we circled a second time, at which point DIAL reported they were ready.  On the plus side, the circles near the fire provided ample opportunity for many photos to be taken.  We then flew directly over the Rim fire waypoint (between the towers rather than over one or two of them) and toward NE along the plume axis to the SE end of the wall over Pyramid Lake.  Enroute it became apparent that DIAL/HSRL was not fully operational, so the first leg of the wall was turned into a ramp down from 33 to ~ 12 kft for the second leg in the smoke back to the SE.  For the third leg we reversed course and flew back through the smoke at 12 kft to try different operating conditions on the AOP, PTR MS and HR AMS instruments (discussed with and approved by Bob Yokelson the day before the flight), then reversed course and made final NW to SE leg at 9 kft below as much of the smoke as possible (not possible to get completely underneath as the smoke was thick from surface to ~ 13 kft at this location).  We remained at low altitude and flew east to shoot a missed approach at Fallon, this involved passing over the field and out of the smoke and then turning back to descend to 500 AGL over the runway heading west back toward the smoke.  After departing Fallon we adjusted heading to go back to the Rim waypoint, initially at 16 kft where we were just above the plume (skimming the top).  We were able to descend to 14 kft about 2/3 of the way back to fire and got into very thick, fresh, smoke.  We overflew the way point, breaking into clear air SW of the fires then turned around and went back into the smoke at 14 kft heading toward Boise, ID.  The turn provided another round of great photo opportunities featuring the thick smoke plume and the pyro Cb towers (now much above us), while the sampling in the thick smoke produced record high values for several different instruments measuring fire tracers.  (See webcam movie from 25 Aug for sense of the scene, and CO time series as an example of the enhancements right at the fire as well as the persistence of the smoke all the way to Boise)  SORRY, THE SITE WILL NOT ALLOW THE WEB CAM MOVIE TO BE UPLOADED.  Ask J. Dibb or B. Yokelson if you want it emailed to you.


As we headed NE toward Boise at 14 kft  the top of the plume slowly descended and eventually dropped below us.  We were able to descend to 12 kft and get back into the smoke at that level, and stay in it all the way to Boise (and well beyond, see HSRL curtain, and the report for 27 Aug Flt back to Houston).  As we approached the second wall we ascended to 20 kft for the HSRL leg above the plume, passed back through the smoke at 12kft, and once again below 7 kft (as low as pilots could go safely).  We then climbed back to 20 kft enroute to the Little Queens fire which we overflew and surveyed with DIAL HSRL.  A smoke plume was clearly visible (by eye and with the lidar, see curtain) so we turned back and attempted to sample it insitu.  However, the terrain and TFR prevented us from getting lower than 13 kft.  At that flight level we may have briefly penetrated the plume, but it was clear that we could not work in it effectively.  We then climbed back to 20 kft and flew over the location where we believed the Incendiary Creek fire was burning.  No evidence of the fire was seen by the flight crew or the lidar, not clear if the fire had laid down, or if our waypoint was slightly off target.  We then turned toward Spokane, passing north and west of the smoke pretty quickly, landing at Spokane after 7.7 hour flight.


All instruments reported to be functional during the descent debrief, though several stated need to clean smoke off of optics before the next flight to restore sensitivity.  In addition to the problems DIAL had (noted above), MMS and SP2 had short periods of data loss early in flight.  In all cases the problems were resolved relatively quickly.