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Grumman Northrop E-2 Hawkeye — the crew

5 October 2012

Grumman Northrop E-2 Hawkeye — the crew


Wednesday’s post this week  was about Grumman Northrop E-2 Hawkeye images taken by U.S. Navy photographers and today’s post is with respect to those found of the flight crew and within the fuselage — they are shown below. There are a total of five in each Hawkeye crew: pilot, copilot, radar operator, combat information center officer (also the mission commander) and air control officer. Each position’s title is self-explanatory and there are secondary assignments, for contingency purposes of course, but what is it like to serve on a Hawkeye? Is there room to walk around? Heat up coffee? Or even a meal?

In a word — no.

Each mission lasts about four hours (but may go to six) so there is no galley or walking around room though the aircraft is pressurized to, in theory, provide for a short sleeve work environment (cold in the back and hot up front it would seem). Once through the main entrance hatch the pilots go forward and up a step through a narrow entry into the cockpit while the operators go aft and take their positions, each facing port. Liquid waste is handled through relief tubes, one per pilot and one for the operators in the Aft Equipment Compartment (AEC) — care must be taken to check for presence of a vacuum, though. Solid waste is addressed with a chemical toilet in the AEC, which is better described as a metal stand from which a plastic bag is suspended. Many crews dispensed with this option all together due to its general unreliability.

Emergency egress (escape) is challenging, especially in the air. Airborne egress is with a manually deployed parachute. The Main Entrance Hatch (MEH) is first jettisoned and each crew member in sequence exits with a tuck-and-roll out of the aircraft. The pilot has the most challenge in that he sets the autopilot and navigates a weaving route — after the rest of the crew has parachuted away — to the MEH which takes more than several seconds. The record for full crew escape is poor and worse when the autopilot was defective. Parachutes are attached to shoulder straps and lie against the seat back while the seat pan holds a small oxygen supply bottle, life raft and survival kit. Obviously, reacting to smoke and fire is especially urgent to each Hawkeye flight crew. Escape after ditching (or while the aircraft is on deck or ground) is via one of three hatches — each pilot has one overhead and a third is on the after end of the operator compartment.

My thanks to Steeljaw Scribe for the information related above. His experience with the Hawkeye shows as does his expertise — his blog Steeljaw Scribe is highly recommended reading for material relating to the Hawkeye, Naval Aviation as well as serving in the Navy.

My thanks, too, goes to William “Bill” Ridge — who is a former Hawkeye Mission Commander — for his expertise and insight.

Crew entry is through the portside main entrance hatch (MEH) — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spec. 2nd Class Jessica Bidwell

Pilots sit shoulder-to-shoulder with an escape hatch above each for emergency egress — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spec. 2nd Class Clifford L H Davis

Looking aft — the Radar Operator in the  forward position, Combat Information Center Officer (also the Mission Commander) and Air Control Officer who occupy the operator compartment the Hawkeye — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spec. 3rd Class Ricardo J Reyes

Hummer racing overhead with tailhook down in salute — U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Spec. 3rd Class John Phillip Wagner Jr

5 Comments leave one →
  1. 10 October 2012 15:40

    Good post but one minor point — the seat pan holds the bailout bottle, good for a couple of whiffs of O2 when adrenaline is reigning supreme, the life raft, and a survival packet. The parachute is attached via the shoulder straps and normally rests on the seatback. w/r, SJS

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      10 October 2012 16:52

      Thanks — we hold to a high standard of accuracy so we appreciate the well intended correction. The post will be edited as soon as possible an dno later than 11 Ocotober. Thanks again. Note to readers: Steeljaw Scribe publishes an excellent blog regarding naval aviation — the link is in the post.

      The text has been amended — thanks again for the assist 🙂

  2. 6 February 2014 09:51

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  3. 19 March 2014 14:07

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  4. 28 November 2019 23:25

    Thanks for the post!

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