9th AS Pelicans prepare to FLUSH

  • Published
  • By Roland Balik
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

About a dozen C-5M Super Galaxy pilots and flight engineers assigned to the 9th Airlift Squadron conducted Fleet Launch Under Severe Hazards or FLUSH checklist training on Jan. 29, 2024.

The C-5M FLUSH checklist is designed for an aircrew to launch the Super Galaxy from a ‘no power on’ or ‘dark’ status to an all four engines running posture and taxiing off the parking spot in minimal amount of time and ready for departure predicated on an imminent threat.

The idea of developing the checklist and getting aircrew members trained was put into motion during Mobility Guardian 23. In November 2023, the decision was made to proceed with FLUSH training.

If the FLUSH checklist had to be initiated in a real-world situation, two pilots and one flight engineer would board the aircraft, rush up to the flight deck, and man their positions while the second flight engineer would stay on the ground to perform scanner duties.

“FLUSH is for a contingency operation where we are launching to survive,” said Lt. Col. Phillip Summers, 9th AS commander. “In any Area of Responsibility where we might have some sort of threat that is inbound to wherever we are parked at the time, the idea is you [aircrew] are just running as fast as you can to the jet, turn the engines on and take off in order to survive.”

Prior to actually performing the FLUSH checklist on a dark C-5M, aircrew members receive FLUSH training through academics (classroom) and time in the C-5M simulator to practice using the checklist to configure the aircraft for a rapid departure.

The main goal for pilots, flight engineers, and loadmasters is to complete the checklist as quickly as possible. Aircrew communication and coordination are paramount for a successful FLUSH launch.

“A normal line mission is three hours and 15 minutes from crew show to take off,” said Maj. Jeff Asper, 9th AS chief of training and C-5M pilot. “During the ground training session, an aircrew completed the checklist in five minutes and 59 seconds.”

Aircrews using the FLUSH checklist average around seven to eight minutes from the time they arrive at a dark aircraft to being ready to block out of the parking spot.

“The real heroes are the flight engineers,” said Asper. “They have to work through all the systems in a very abnormal manner and have to know the jet well.”

Upon the execution of the FLUSH checklist, the Super Galaxy comes to life when the flight engineer starts up one of the two auxiliary power units, applies electrical power to the aircraft, followed by pressurizing all four hydraulic systems, and providing bleed air for operating the environmental system and engine starting.

“My perception of FLUSH is the engineer being able to get out of Dodge in a quick and safe manner that doesn’t put the aircraft in an unsafe state but gives you enough to operate,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Coleman, 9th AS C-5M flight engineer. “The most challenging portion of FLUSH is that it will test your [aircraft] systems knowledge to see what you actually need to get the aircraft from a completely dark aircraft to an aircraft that is ready to start engines and go.”

Once the flight engineer has the aircraft systems up and running, the pilots can continue to configure the aircraft’s switches for communication, navigation, and engine start.