When you think of a guppy, you usually picture the typical aquarium variety fish, interesting to watch, yet small. But NASA has a very large guppy, a Super Guppy, and one that flies at that.
Recently, NASA's B-377SGT Super Guppy Turbine cargo aircraft, operated by NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, came to NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California for a special job.
Image left: NASA's outsize Super Guppy cargo plane dwarfs its flight crew after its arrival at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center for a landing gear change.
The plane needed new landing gear, consisting of struts, wheels and tires. As with many aircraft, the immense Super Guppy had to be jacked off the ground for the landing gear change, as well as for cycling the gear up and down afterward in order to ensure proper operation. What the crew lacked at JSC was a hangar large enough to jack up the Super Guppy indoors, necessary in order to keep it out of the wind. A giant aircraft sitting on a few narrow jacks several feet off the ground outside on a windy day is not a good idea…
The landing gear work on this one-of-a-kind airplane was done by the plane's maintenance crew who do all of their own work on this unique machine.
Image right: Assistant crew chief David Wyckoff applies some elbow grease to loosen a link pin during a landing gear changeout on NASA Johnson Space Center's Super Guppy.
Usually, the Super Guppy transports oversized parts, such as International Space Station modules, over long distances for NASA. Earlier Guppy-type aircraft have served NASA in this role since the Apollo days, when several of the type carried Saturn V moon rocket segments from manufacturers around the country to the NASA Kennedy Space Center for assembly prior to launch.
So, keep looking. The next time you spot a strange-looking airplane in the sky that reminds you of a whale, it might just be a Super Guppy!
NASA Dryden Flight Research Center Public Affairs