ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123



ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123 was a KC-135 which was not modified to be an ARIA, but was used in various support tasks for the fleet.

Key among these was photography of launches and re-entries using the Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System (ALOTS) pod.

KC-135 Tail number 123

123

This photo of ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123 shows the ALOTS (Airborne Lightweight Optical Tracking System) pod mounted on the cargo door.

Photo by John Gourley.

123

ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123 with the ALOTS pod mounted.

Photo by Clifford Reeves.

123

ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123 with the ALOTS pod mounted.

Photo by Clifford Reeves.

123

ARIA Fleet Aircraft 55-3123 with the ALOTS pod mounted.

Photo by John Gourley.

123

ALOTS Operator console.


Above photos via Randy Losey at FlyARIA.com. Used with permission.

 

This aircraft was used to photograph (among other things), the launch of Apollo 7, the re-entry of Apollo 8, the launch of Apollo 11 (see below), and the re-entry of Apollo 11 (see below).

 

re-entry

The Apollo 11 launch, photographed from 43,000 feet from 123, flown by Lt. Col. Bob Mosley. (more details here)

Click to play the 20MB Quicktime movie (640 x 480 pixels).


re-entry

The Apollo 11 re-entry, photographed from 123 at 43,000 feet, flown by Col. Oakley Baron.

Click to play a 14MB MPEG4 file (320 x 240 pixels)

Or here for a 44MB MPEG4 file (640 x 480 pixels).

16mm film courtesy Bob Mosley (Lt. Col., retired.)

Please note that the position of the audio with respect to the picture is a ‘best guess’.
Stereo sound. The right channel audio is from Peter Pockley’s broadcast courtesy Australian Broadcasting Commission.

Bob Mosley writes,

“The film is coverage of the re-entry of Apollo 11, upon its return from the Moon, and was made at approximately 12:20 EDT 24 July 1969, by USAF Col. Oakley Baron and his crew, in a photo equipped US Air Force C-135 (707) aircraft at 43,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.

Coming from the West, the non heat-shielded Service Module soon disintegrates into a flaming fire ball, sending burning material in all directions; which turns night into day momentarily. The Command Module, is then seen to continue on, as a diminishing light, in an easterly direction, and a not too distant, highly successful, splash down; Man had been on the Moon and returned safely, as per one of the National Objectives set down by President John Kennedy, approximately 7 years earlier.”