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Can a 747 do a flip or barrel roll?

Axzilluber

New member
I am writing a fictional adventure novel with elements of flight. I have questions about aviation and I need the advice to get it close to right while still being entertaining in my novel. Questions like, can a plane the size of a 747 or C 17 Globemaster physically perform a loop or barrel roll? It's an ongoing process and there is an end in sight, but still a year maybe two in the future. I was wondering may I ask more questions as time goes by, and which section of forums should I ask them in?
 

Zeede

Active member
The short answer: Yes, but it depends.

The long answer: How fast is the aircraft going? What are the G loads? How much added weight (cargo, fuel, passengers, etc) is it carrying? Is this a one time maneuver and then the plane will be set aside for a thorough airframe inspection or are you asking if it can do these maneuvers on a regular basis?

I don't know the systems on those aircraft but most aircraft that are not aerobatic certified don't have fuel and/or oil systems that work when the plane is upside down. For example, a Cessna 152 has a gravity-fed fuel system. Turn it on its side or upside down long enough and the engine will quit.
 

Axzilluber

New member
The maneuver is an attempt at eluding gunfire, The plane in this scene is a C-5 Galaxy with a balanced cargo of about 30 tons. The speed would be about 250-350 knots, it is a military plane so I'm assuming most of their aircraft can fly inverted for short periods of time.
 

PeatMoss

New member
What level of realism are you going for? I would say if you are just going for a fun military spy thriller type thing then barrel roll away. If you are going for realism then I think that it would be something to avoid. The other thing to think about is why would you be doing a barrel roll in something like that. You certainly won't be out maneuvering well anything so inverting it will just mean you will be shot down upside-down.
 

Siris

Active member
A properly done barrel roll is 1G the whole way around. Famously this was why the 707 was unveiled by doing one. Also there was a fedex flight that defeated and attempting hijacking by doing rolls. Looping however might be a bit of a stretch
 

Roichi

Member
You certainly can roll a 747. And a well executed barrel roll is 1g throughout the maneuver.
However rolling a C5 may be a bit of a stretch. It can still work but as PeatMoss said it will not have the desired effect. A C5 is not a fighter jet and to avoid gunfire you have to consider where it is coming from and what maneuver you need to avoid it.
 

Axzilluber

New member
You certainly can roll a 747. And a well executed barrel roll is 1g throughout the maneuver.
However rolling a C5 may be a bit of a stretch. It can still work but as PeatMoss said it will not have the desired effect. A C5 is not a fighter jet and to avoid gunfire you have to consider where it is coming from and what maneuver you need to avoid it.
You mentioned a barrel roll being 1G all the way around. My father was telling me about a time he was in a small jet and the pilot did a barrel roll and none of the drinks moved or lost a drop. Is that just a proper Barrel roll?
 

Siris

Active member
You mentioned a barrel roll being 1G all the way around. My father was telling me about a time he was in a small jet and the pilot did a barrel roll and none of the drinks moved or lost a drop. Is that just a proper Barrel roll?
Yes it is. If you want a good example there is a famous demonstration Bob Hoover did where he barreled rolled a plane while pouring a pitcher of tea into a glass on the dash.
 

Zeede

Active member
You mentioned a barrel roll being 1G all the way around. My father was telling me about a time he was in a small jet and the pilot did a barrel roll and none of the drinks moved or lost a drop. Is that just a proper Barrel roll?
As I understand it, otherwise it's called an aileron roll, where you just roll the plane, and things will fall and move around the cabin :D
 

MsHighAltitude

Active member
Yes it is. If you want a good example there is a famous demonstration Bob Hoover did where he barreled rolled a plane while pouring a pitcher of tea into a glass on the dash.
Wow that's amazing. The power-off, alternating gear landings are cool too. Not to mention he flew wearing suit & tie... and cufflinks! 😲
 

Sky Pig

New member
Bob Hoover was amazing. He was also a genuinely nice guy. I flew with him in the Shrike, N500RA, back when it was still wearing the orange/brown over white paint scheme (yes, I'm old). Did you notice the registration number of the Shrike he flew in that video? N9006N. Kind of an aeronautical palindrome, looks the same right side up as upside down.

As for the question about rolls and loops, all I can say is I wouldn't do either of those to avoid gunfire. Those maneuvers just make you a better target. To avoid gunfire from the ground, pilots do something called jinking; that is to change direction quickly and erratically. Steep banks, and usually descending as low as possible to put something between you and the gun (hills, trees, buildings). Same goes for air to air combat, without the decent though. In that situation, you're doing two things; trying to avoid getting hit, and trying to gain the advantage by getting behind your adversary. In the first scenario, the C-5 would do well. Believe it or not, the FRED is quite maneuverable for a flying building, especially the C-5M we're flying now. Unbelievable power. In the second scenario (air to air), well, FRED is toast. You're getting shot down no matter what you do.

I've actually done some aviation movie work and a fair amount of consulting for film shoots using aircraft (movies, TV shows, commercials...etc.) So, ask away!
 

Roichi

Member
I've actually done some aviation movie work and a fair amount of consulting for film shoots using aircraft (movies, TV shows, commercials...etc.) So, ask away!
So you are responsible for the weird stuff going on in Wonder Woman and other movies. Just that we all have a laugh at how stupid the producers are to not realise the bullshit.
;)
 

Sky Pig

New member
So you are responsible for the weird stuff going on in Wonder Woman and other movies. Just that we all have a laugh at how stupid the producers are to not realise the bullshit.
;)
HA! That stuff drives me nuts too. My work was more with the actual flying stuff, meaning camera ships, hero aircraft and safety on set. Now it's all done with drones and CGI, which is why there are more stupid things happening than before. Funny story though, I actually did challenge an AD on one set about something they were shooting not being technically correct. He said they're not concerned about the 1% of people who'd know better. Some do, but most don't.
 

Zeede

Active member
Hehe, that is kind of like how watching every episode of Mythbusters has kind of ruined me for Hollywood/TV explosions. Camera shows a close up of some C4, and then the building explodes in what is obviously a gasoline explosion, not a C4 one and I'm like, "Huh, that's not correct."
 

Axzilluber

New member
Bob Hoover was amazing. He was also a genuinely nice guy. I flew with him in the Shrike, N500RA, back when it was still wearing the orange/brown over white paint scheme (yes, I'm old). Did you notice the registration number of the Shrike he flew in that video? N9006N. Kind of an aeronautical palindrome, looks the same right side up as upside down.

As for the question about rolls and loops, all I can say is I wouldn't do either of those to avoid gunfire. Those maneuvers just make you a better target. To avoid gunfire from the ground, pilots do something called jinking; that is to change direction quickly and erratically. Steep banks, and usually descending as low as possible to put something between you and the gun (hills, trees, buildings). Same goes for air to air combat, without the decent though. In that situation, you're doing two things; trying to avoid getting hit, and trying to gain the advantage by getting behind your adversary. In the first scenario, the C-5 would do well. Believe it or not, the FRED is quite maneuverable for a flying building, especially the C-5M we're flying now. Unbelievable power. In the second scenario (air to air), well, FRED is toast. You're getting shot down no matter what you do.

I've actually done some aviation movie work and a fair amount of consulting for film shoots using aircraft (movies, TV shows, commercials...etc.) So, ask away!
Bob Hoover was amazing. He was also a genuinely nice guy. I flew with him in the Shrike, N500RA, back when it was still wearing the orange/brown over white paint scheme (yes, I'm old). Did you notice the registration number of the Shrike he flew in that video? N9006N. Kind of an aeronautical palindrome, looks the same right side up as upside down.

As for the question about rolls and loops, all I can say is I wouldn't do either of those to avoid gunfire. Those maneuvers just make you a better target. To avoid gunfire from the ground, pilots do something called jinking; that is to change direction quickly and erratically. Steep banks, and usually descending as low as possible to put something between you and the gun (hills, trees, buildings). Same goes for air to air combat, without the decent though. In that situation, you're doing two things; trying to avoid getting hit, and trying to gain the advantage by getting behind your adversary. In the first scenario, the C-5 would do well. Believe it or not, the FRED is quite maneuverable for a flying building, especially the C-5M we're flying now. Unbelievable power. In the second scenario (air to air), well, FRED is toast. You're getting shot down no matter what you do.

I've actually done some aviation movie work and a fair amount of consulting for film shoots using aircraft (movies, TV shows, commercials...etc.) So, ask away!
What if a C-5 Galaxy (good guys) was hunting a C-17 Globemaster (bad guys) high in the sky above the ocean in the Bahamas. Both planes have been retrofit with the business end from A-10s. The C-5 has been customized by multi-millionaires. (See where this is going?) Can two beasts like that have a skirmish? (Dogfight) The entire outer fuselage of the C5 was retrofit with OLED screens and hi-def cameras (the new flexible glass they just invented) that can project anything on them. There is a joke in my book about still being able to see things like the leading edge of the engine pods and inside the engines, and some surfaces that can't be covered. (The scene is in the hanger and friends are being shown how it can disappear. One character says, "But I can still see it." the other says, "Well at 500 knots your not going to see it till it's too late.") I could use some help with other things like ATC communication too. I shall continue to ask away. If you would rather talk privately that would be okay with me, instead of cluttering up this site with my questions and me giving away scenes in my book.
 

Sky Pig

New member
That sounds cool! I like where you're going with this. Yes, a C-5 and C-17 could have a dogfight. It would be a slow-ish affair with a lot of steep banks, chandelles and basic maneuvers. You could throw in a roll or two for effect, but it's not really a dogfighting maneuver. Beyond that, any loops or slit-s type stuff would look silly to us pilots. The adaptive skin idea is a real thing. They've actually been working on that. But remember, you're writing something to entertain people, and you want as many people to read it as possible (or see the movie), so you can't be too worried about pleasing a tiny group of pilots. Your goal is to suspend disbelief with good storytelling. Just try to keep it from being too "hollywood" silly and you're golden. Watch Kelsey's Hollywood Reviews on his YouTube channel, he puts on a clinic for screenwriters!

I think you should continue to post here for ATC questions and the like. Just be cagey. I'm sure others here can answer some of your questions better that I can, or suggest resource materials to look at . As I said, my film work was about operating the camera ships and aircraft on set, which was all about safety of the filming crew, talent and aircraft, not really the story content.
 
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