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This is a follow up diary to my original one about using helicopters to help in ongoing nuclear disaster in Japan.  

Original diary link - Helicopters to the rescue?

I am putting this up a second diary instead of an update to keep the bandwidth down for those good folks with slower internet connections.

please follow along below, for an update and more pictures.

I have watched all the video and looked at the photos of the helicopter drops that have been done on the crippled reactor buildings, and I was really disappointed in what I saw
them doing. They were dropping water much too high to get much of it onto the building.

The set up they are using standard out of the box equipment.  Using a standard 25,000 lb lifting sling and then attaching their water buckets to the bottom of the sling.

Perhaps that is how they have trained before. Perhaps that is all they have on hand.
I get the impression that they are using this equipment in the most conservative manner
possible, which really makes it ineffective.

Here is a photo of a Chinook picking up a crash damaged Huey Helicopter using a 25k sling. This mission was done in the Rocky Mountains on a hill top 11,000 feet up. I was the guy on the ground that hooked up the load under the aircraft,

A longer line can be made from any suitable piece of steel cable with the ends of the cable clamped to make proper loops to attach it to the helicopter and to the bucket.
Of course the tensile strength of the cable must be rated for twice the anticipated static load of 18,000 lbs.  This is because you are flying this load and significant g forces can be applied to the load when the helicopter pulls power and climbs with the load.

This type cable could be built in a  day, perhaps less, I am sure the US Navy has this type of cable on hand and could help build one if they were asked to.

Here is a picture of a bucket set up using that exact type of cable (steel).

We used this set up to fight fires in 2006, while it is heavier to use and handle, it works just as well as lighter prefabricated composite (plasma) lines.

Here is a closer look at the bucket controller head and a prefabricated composite  long line, which we now use.

Another reason using cables might be really important...
If they end up doing a "Junk shot" of dropping sand / boron / whatever will work on the reactor to kill it, bury it, shield it.  Then they are going to have to use something disposable to rig the loads for dropping.

US forces did this exact thing during relief efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Gustav.

Here is a picture of sand bags rigged with disposable wire cable lifting slings lined up for use. (This picture was taken by the Nebraska crew working Gustav).

And here is a close up of those same sand bags dropped into a levy breach, you can see the wire cables in this picture.

Personally I do not believe the Japanese are very good at mcguyvering (jury rigging) things. Thinking out of the box is a trait that is not highly prized in that society.
(I spent over a year over two tours stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, on the southern island of Okinawa in the 1980's) and getting along with others and group think is pretty much the way they do things over there.
Just my own opinion.

The helicopters there SHOULD be using long lines on their buckets, for safety of the crews and for better control of where the water goes.

Of course it is harder to gauge where the bucket is with a long line, and there is the danger of bring the bucket in too low and hitting the building.  Considering the current status of those reactors I really do not think there is any way smacking the bucket into anything could make things any worse.

Using a long line lets the crew and helicopter stay farther away from the bad stuff, and still get the bucket closer to where you want to drop.

Controlling the bucket height is really very easy.

The Chinook has an automatic flight control system (AFCS) which makes it very stable
and much more easy for the pilots to fly, it even has two of these systems, as a redundancy in case one system fails.

The pilot can select automatic control in any one of three ways.

Heading hold - The pilot pushes the button and the helicopter will hold a given magnetic heading within a degree or less regardless of external forces such as wind or even control inputs.

Baro hold - This tells the helicopter to maintain a given barometric height (pressure altitude) within about 50 feet up or down.  This mode is usually only used when the helicopter is more than a thousand feet above the ground and is generally used to maintain altitude in cruise flight.

and finally -  Rad alt hold - THIS is the one they should be using, and probably are.
Using the radar altimeter this automatic mode, keeps the helicopter at an exact height above the ground using the radar altimeter which bounces a radar signal off the ground. It is only usable below 2000 feet and really only useful below one thousand feet. This system is very accurate below 500 feet.

All the crew has to do is determine the height the bucket should be at for the drop, using a spotter or even a dry run, set the Rad Alt and then make the drop run.
The helicopter should be right at the exact height wanted for the drop.

But this really has become a world disaster, and I also think we should offer them as much help as possible.  There are lots of American pilots and crews that have knowledge and experience doing this sort of helicopter work, I hope that resource is used to help in this case.

In my previous diary I noted that I sent word to the President via the white house and got no response.  Yesterday I personally called Senator Ben Nelsons staff and spoke about this issue with them, I also spoke with some folks pretty high up in the local chain of command... hopefully if there is something our Military can do to help that is not already being done, it will be offered.

I hope the Japanese figure this out, and I wish them the best of luck in this terrible tragedy.

And I will end this diary with a bit of military humor... which we can all use a dose of now and then.

Our Gustav crew  wrote a slogan on the tail of their aircraft (105) while down in Mississippi..

"Freedom costs $1.05"

I hope this diary added some signal and not just noise to the discussion...
I have to run off to work, will be back later to check comments and answer questions.

Good day to you all.


Originally posted to Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:30 AM PDT.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (34+ / 0-)

    For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

    by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 08:30:39 AM PDT

  •  Very interesting, thanks! (5+ / 0-)

    I just got an inquiry about the video shot yesterday by helicopter circling the plant in order to get a sideways look into what's left of the buildings, as the space photography can't get a good angle. The link:

    At the 29 second mark, there is something glowing in the pile of rubble. Hard to tell if it's "burning" (no obvious flame or smoke), but the something is obviously very hot. I think this shot is of reactor 4, but only because as the video moves you can see that the main part of the aux building roof is still intact (maybe it's #2?). The shot is through the side wall, which is missing, but it's too high up to get a good look from the ground. Which I believe was the reason for the mission.

    The glowing thing looks big enough to be a fuel asssembly, but definitely NOT big enough to be dozens of fuel assemblies in a spent fuel pool. Which, if melting or burning, would make a glow bright enough to be very obvious from the ground. This could (merely 'might', I am not an intel analyst) mean that the fuel assemblies - or some of them - in this pool have been blown out of the pool. i.e. are no longer racked together in their deep enclosure.

    Which might explain why TEPCO seems to think it'll do some good to just dump water from helicopters in the general direction of the building, and spray water into holes from fire trucks and water cannons on the ground. Maybe it's not "filling the fuel pool" they're really attempting here, but rather slowing the melt of assemblies scattered in the wreckage above and below the refueling floor.

    I'm thinking this separation of assemblies might prove to be more manageable than trying to stop a mass melt in the pool. Or maybe not. Just thought it was interesting, and TEPCO wanted this footage for a reason...

    Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

    by Joieau on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:33:22 AM PDT

    •  Here's the shot from (5+ / 0-)

      a screen-shot -

      Screen shot 2011-03-18 at 12.37.02 PM

      Now, more than ever, we need the Jedi.

      by Joieau on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:45:56 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I don't know.. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        peraspera, nota bene, On The Bus, kurt

        Much of the video was pretty shaky.

        The light looked like it was shot at sunset, with the ambient light coming from pretty low on the horizon.

        The glow very much could be from seriously over heated fuel rods, or simply from something reflecting in the light of the low sun.  That's way beyond my ability to say so.

        I do know that video was shot by a UH-60 Blackhawk, you can plainly see the tail end of the the right side external fuel tank out the window.  And the sound of the helicopter is distinctly that of a Blackhawk in flight....

        Thank you for sharing that!

        For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

        by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:27:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Ice or snow instead of water? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, peraspera, Nebraskablue

    Somebody on another thread asked whether it would make any sense to drop ice instead of water, as we watched the water from one of those drops being caught in a stiff breeze and scattering. The ice (like sandbags) would be easier to aim, assuming of course that the goal is to get the water into one of those pools.

    What do you think about this?

    ~On, Wisconsin! On, Wisconsin! Raise her glowing flame!~

    by sillia on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:46:19 AM PDT

    •  Ice might be good... (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peraspera, fidel, sillia

      It wold melt, and be colder than ambient sea water.

      The problem would be how to fill the bucket to drop it.

      After the first drop run, the bucket is going to be giving off some very serious radiation.

      Any way to get some thing into it would be problematic for people.

      I think this is why they are dipping seawater.

      For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

      by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:08:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Wouldn't going (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peraspera, sillia, Nebraskablue

      too fast from hot to cold possibly damage the metal's integrity?

  •  Radar Altimeter vs buildings? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    peraspera, On The Bus

    How well does the radar altimeter deal with flying over buildings?  I'm thinking they set it to something like 300', but then fly over a reactor building where the roof is 100' above the dirt. Does the radar keep detecting the dirt, or does it think it needs to gain altitude suddenly?

    •  You are exactly right. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      peraspera, On The Bus

      The pilot would have to momentarily release the Rad Alt hold as they came over the building them re-engage it.

      The radar altimeter pretty much reads any solid object.

      It tends to not read trees very well.  And also is not recommended for use over bodies of water, such as lakes or even oceans.  

      Sometimes the water does not give a good return and the signal can bounce of the bottom of the lake bed / sea bed.

      The operators manual (Dash Ten) warns against using it in those situations...

      For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

      by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 04:19:01 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  LOL! $ Buck o Five... (4+ / 0-)

    Love the reference to Team America...

    Thank you for the follow up and letting us know in the ROV.


  •  Thank you for another excellent diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ekyprogressive, Nebraskablue

    We sent over some military radiation experts yesterday to help out our military that is in Japan. Maybe they can figure out how we might be able to help without endangering our helicopter crews.

  •  Thanks for these realistic diaries... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    You've made a number of comments here about Japanese culture that seem based on your actually spending time in Japan and working with the Japanese military.

    We're seeing stories of people in evacuation camps on the verge of starvation and reports of people being abandoned because of fear that they may be irradiated.

    To what extent, from your experience is what's going on here part of a larger cultural issue related to pride and not willing to accept the input and aid of foreigners?

    •  Not standing out is a very big thing in Japan (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      David Kroning II, chimene, kurt

      I was stationed in Okinawa, most of the populace there really did not care for us.

      Many of the older folks really, really avoided any Americans like the plaque. The were not disrespectful but would not make eye contact with you, nor would they speak to us.

      The younger generation, boomers and younger ones were mostly friendly but still kept their distance.

      Taking care of yourself and your family and NOT ever asking for help is considered normal there.  

      They value self reliance, conformity and harmony.

      I think this is changing with the couple of latest generations, but regardless of that,  they are not in charge.

      Considering my diaries, getting the Japanese military to do something different will be a real dance.  If you just tell them bluntly that they are doing something wrong, they will clam up and not listen to what you have to say. They will think you are critiquing them and they are losing face, and they will think you do not respect them.
      They will thank you very respectfully, and then walk away from you.

      Personal and professional respect is a HUGE part of life in Japan, especially in their military.

      The only real approach would be to say to them "I have something that I think may be helpful to you, I would like you to look at it, and give me your honored opinion to see if this idea could be useful to you, I would really like to be helpful to you in your efforts".

      That is the thing many people do not understand about the Japanese mind set, you cannot simply tell them "We will offer you any assistance you want" and then sit there waiting for them to ask.

      THEY WON'T ASK... Unless they are facing certain failure, they can and will go it alone.

      That is why I have tried many times to get our government to offer assistance, I hope that poke got to the right people.

      It takes diplomacy and understanding about their society and different folks roles in it to be successful in relationships with most Japanese people.

      Most Americans never realize this.

      Watch the movie "Mr. Baseball" with Tom Selleck..
      it is a pretty accurate showing of how somethings work in Japan.

      p.s. I loved that movie....  :)

      For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

      by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 09:22:21 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  What you say here is not very encouraging... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        •  I am dissapointed too. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But that is the way things are over there it seems.

          Even the leadership of TEPCO was / is not working well with, and has been deceiving the Japanese government.

          Minimizing problems is a way of life over there, and it really comes back to haunt them sometimes.

          For Republicans everywhere, you should remember this statement: "The values inspiring those brave workers in Poland … They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." (Ronald Reagan 1980)

          by Nebraskablue on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 10:40:41 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  There are some damn good Japanese engineers (4+ / 0-)

    however, they either end up running the company like Honda, or they end up buried under the bureaucracy, IMO.

    I'm hoping that this disaster will give talented Japanese individuals a chance to break out of the pack.

    look for my eSci diary series Thursday evening. "It's the planet, stupid."

    by FishOutofWater on Fri Mar 18, 2011 at 07:45:46 PM PDT

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