Unidentified plane heading towards Sacramento [E-6 TACAMO]

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member


I saw this unusual four engined plane overhead (Shingle Springs, CA), quite low, maybe 20,000 feet, and it seemed like it was heading for Sacramento. At 18:50 UTC. It looked all white to the naked eye. It was quite clear overhead, but by the time I'd got my camera it was a few miles away, hence the above blurry photo.

Strangely it did not show up on FR24. I was wondering if it might be air force one. The colors seem a rough match. But it seems to have winglets or wingtip pods, absent from the VC-25.

Or maybe an E-6 TACAMO? That would explain the wingtip pods.
f53e20f3aad86bc008375018936ab696.jpg
 
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Gridlock

Active Member
Where would it be going? Out to sea, or Beale maybe?

Like the E4B NEACP it's not always the best plane to spot!
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Where would it be going? Out to sea, or Beale maybe?

Like the E4B NEACP it's not always the best plane to spot!
Beale maybe, heading in that general direction I estimate heading about 300° from Shingle Springs, which kind of puts it between Sacramento and Beale
 

CeruleanBlu

Active Member
For those interested, a similar version of this antenna can be seen from the inside of the plane in this walk-through video of the E-4B, (if I didn't link it properly skip ahead to 9:21).

 

Trailblazer

Moderator
Staff member
Yeah, it's a long wave (VLF) radio, with the emphasis on long.
Not so much trailed as dangled, if this is to be believed:

To communicate with the SSBN fleet the aircraft use VLF (Very Low Frequency) using a Long Trailing Wire Antenna which is reeled from the centre fuselage through an opening in the cabin floor. The length of this wire is 26,000ft and is weighed down at the end.

And this is where the height in the NOTAM comes into play. To achieve the communication with the Submarines the aircraft flies in a very tight orbit at 26,000ft, which stalls the wire making it fall almost vertical. A 70% vertical fall is required to effectively communicate with a submerged SSBN
https://planesandstuff.wordpress.com/tag/e-6b/

Did you notice a big cable knocking your garden gnomes over as it passed? :)
 

Gridlock

Active Member
I knew subs had many dangly bits (they tow passive sonar and VLF antenna) but it never occurred to me the other end would have to be that long too. I guess we just got a answer to "world's biggest aircraft", if you count antennas :D
 

Efftup

Senior Member
Not so much trailed as dangled, if this is to be believed:



https://planesandstuff.wordpress.com/tag/e-6b/

Did you notice a big cable knocking your garden gnomes over as it passed? :)
That 26,000ft sounds pretty unbelievable, as it;s just under 5 miles long, but that is also stated here:
Is navy.mil an actual US Navy website? Cos they state 28,000ft in the first paragraph.

EDIT: Ii should have watched Cerulean's VIdeo first
 
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