Miss Piggy and Kermit

Piggy and Kermit
The NOAA P-3s, Miss Piggy and Kermit

The Lockheed WP-3D Orion (P-3) is a highly instrumented aircraft made to sustain large amounts of damage and fly through adverse conditions. The Aircraft Operations Center has two P-3’s. The primary goal of the P-3 during hurricane season is to penetrate into the eye while dropping dropwindsondes in order to get data to Hurricane Research Division. An average hurricane reconnaissance mission lasts about 9-10 hours.

Since the P-3’s are equipped to take atmospheric measurements they participate in a number of projects, from hurricane reconnaissance to ocean wind experiments and bow echo research, the P-3 is made to do just about any kind of weather research all over the world.


A few past projects that the P-3 participated in are explained below:
- BAMEX: Bow Echo and Mesoscale Convective Vortices Experiment in 2003. BAMEX, which was conducted in the Midwest, was dedicated to bow echo evolution experimentation.

- SALLJEX: South American Low-Level Jet Experiment in late 2002 through 2003. SALLJEX was conducted over northern Argentina and western Paraguay. The primary goal was to improve short and long term forecasting.

- WSR: Winter Storm Reconnaissance Program in 2008. The P-3 took over for the GIV in 2008 during the annual NCEP winter storm missions.

- Ocean Winds: The P-3’s work with NESDIS to verify their satellites accuracy.

-TEXAQS: Texas Air Quality Study in 2006.

P3 Diagram

Type Engines:

4 Allison T56-14 Turbo Prop Engines
Each rated at 4600 Shaft Horse Power (SHP)

Crew:

2 Pilots, Flight Engineer, Navigator, 1 Flight Director (flight meteorologist), 1 ASPEN Director (flight meteorologist), 2 or 3 Engineering/Electronic specialists, Radio/Avionics specialist, and a up to 12 Scientist or Media personnel.

Max. Takeoff Weight:

135,000 lbs.

Ceiling:

27,000'

Rate of Climb:

Up to 3000 FPM depending on aircraft gross weight and density altitude

Operational Airspeeds:

170 - 250 KIAS

Electrical:

4 Generators (3 are engine driven, 1 Auxiliary Power Unit)
each generator yields 120 volt, 3 phase, 400HZ power 90 KVA max power

Max. Gross Weight:

135,000 lbs max takeoff weight
114,000 lbs max landing (103,880 is normal)

Empty Weight:

Approximately 73,000 lbs depending on scientific gear installed

Maximum zero Fuel weight:

Approximately 77,000 lbs.

Useful Load:

Approximately 62,000 lbs

Fuel Load:

58,000 lbs.

Type Fuel:

JP4, JP5, JP8, JET A, JET A-1, JET B

Standard Fuel Burn:

4500 - 6000 lbs/hr depending on altitude and airspeed

Maximum Range and Duration:

LOW ALTITUDE - 2500 NM OR 9.5 HRS
HIGH ALTITUDE - 3800 NM OR 11.5 HRS

Dimensions (external):

Wingspan = 99 ' 8"
Length = 116' 10"
Height to top of fin = 34' 3"
Top of fin to lower skin = 24' 4"

Additional Standard Equipment (Cockpit):

Skywatch Collision Avoidance System (TCAS)
Altitude Alert System

Skywatch Collision Avoidance System (TCAS):

An airborne traffic advisory system that assists the flight crew in visual acquisition of aircraft that may pose a collision threat.

Altitude Alert System:

System that provides flight crew with visual and audio warnings about a variety of flight conditions regarding the altitude of the aircraft.

Radars:

Rockwell Collins C-band nose radar
Lower fuselage C-band research radar – 360 deg. horizontal fan beam

Cloud Physics:

PMS 2-dimensional and 1-dimensional precipitation and cloud particle probes
PMS Forward and Axially scattering particle probes
Aerosol sampling system

Radiation:

Sea surface temperature radiometer
CO2 air temperature radiometer
Eppley solar and terrestrial pyranometer and pyrgeometer radiometers

Expendables:

GPS dropwindsonde atmospheric profiling system
Airborne Expendable Bathythermographs (AXBT’s)

Miscellaneous:

C-band and Ku-band scatterometers
Stepped Frequency Microwave Radiometer
Radome Flow Angle Sensors
External Wing Store Station Mounts
Dual Inertial and GPS Navigation Systems

Piggy Kermit

Nose art from the WP-3Ds, N43RF and N42RF

© The Jim Henson Company