New TCAS uses.....


Staff member
Regardless of what I've seen or experienced before in my flying career, there's always new stuff to learn and experience. This was proven again tonight.

Was working under an overcast deck ahead of WX front in the central part of the country today. WX was 050 OVC 270 solid with moderate clear icing from 120 up and freezing drizzle/rain. In order to remain in the objective area, it was necessary to air refuel, so come my predetermined AR bingo, I'm forced to climb north to the tanker track in order to refuel with the KC-10 60 miles to the north of me. WX was solid in the climb with the blue streaks of St Elmos fire all over the wing leading edges and forward windscreen zapping on and off like a science project gone bad. One limitation of the Hog is it's lack of an air-air radar, or any radar for that matter. So all air-air rejoins must be made visually, at least at end-game. There is no clear air that I can find, and as I switch to the tanker freq to coordinate, things aren't looking good. I'm still fat on gas, but if I don't AR in 10 minutes, then I'll have to RTB in order to maintain IFR divert fuel. The tanker is at 180, with me at 170 proceeding north off an INS steerpoint with the tanker maneuvered about 16 miles to my 8 o'clock (we're A/A TACAN locked, so I know his bearing/DME from me). Here's where it get interesting. The tanker crew call that they have me on TCAS and want to do a TCAS rejoin. Sounds interesting, how do you want to make this happen? Their plan was to come up my six with 500' separation, and park on top of me to allow me to pick up their lights as they pass overhead, all in IMC. I'm game. So I watch the TACAN as the DME between the two of us decreases to zero. Looking up through the canopy, the WX is still solid, so I can't even make out the strobes of a KC-10 500'-1000' above me, much less the aircraft itself. I was tempted to climb a couple hundred feet to "close the gap" a little for a better look, but that wouldn't be wise; especially since I was still fat on fuel. Would be akin to "ducking under" on an ILS when there was still fuel available for more approaches. Being at end-game now and still not visual, it was time to RTB, thank the tanker crew for their college-try and call it a night; additionally, the tanker was warning me of "a good amount of red ahead" more frequently now, so even a better idea to go our separate ways at this time. Other than the good amount of ice accumulation on the airframe, the turbulence kicking my flight around, and the thunderstorms in the area, the resultant approach and landing were uneventful.

Still, I was impressed by the use of TCAS, an airborne aid to separate aircraft, in it's ability to be turned into an airborne rejoin aid.
less accronyms please....we're not all military pilots!!!
less accronyms please....we're not all military pilots!!!

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My bad....

RTB: Return To Base
TACAN: Tactical Air Navigation...essentially a military VOR system
A/A: Air to Air
AR: Air Refueling
WX: Weather
Thanks mike! Most of us here understand the basics like TCAS, and TACAN, WX, MX etc...but I know at least I get lost with some of the military stuff that I've never been exposed to.

Sorry about that