Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Advice from a C130 Pilot

Dear Sir,

My name is D.J. Baker and I would appreciate it if you could tell me what it takes to be an F-16 fighter pilot in the USAF. What classes should I take in high school to help the career I want to take later in life? What could I do to get into the Air Force Academy?

DJ Baker

From: Van Wickler, Kenneth, LtCol, HQ AETC :

Anybody in our outfit want to help this poor kid from Cyberspace? LTC Wickler


A worldly and jaded C130 pilot, Major Hunter Mills, rises to the task of answering the young man's letter.


Dear DJ,

Obviously, through no fault of your own, your young, impressionable brain has been poisoned by the superfluous, hyped-up, "Top Gun" media portrayal of fighter pilots.

Unfortunately, this portrayal could not be further from the truth. In my experience, I've found most fighter pilots pompous, backstabbing, momma's boys with inferiority complexes, as well as being extremely over-rated aeronautically. However, rather than dash your budding dreams of becoming a USAF pilot, I offer the following alternative:

What you really want to aspire to is the exciting, challenging and rewarding world of TACTICAL AIRLIFT. And this, young DJ, means one thing, the venerable workhorse, the C-130. I can guarantee no fighter pilot can brag that he has led a 12-ship formation down a valley at 300 feet above the ground, with the navigator leading the way and trying to interpret an alternate route to the drop zone, avoiding pop-up threats, and coordinating with AWACS, all while eating a box lunch with the engineer in the back relieving himself and the loadmaster puking in his trash can!

I tell you DJ, TAC Airlift is where it's at! Where else is it legal to throw tanks, HUMVs, and other crap out the back of an airplane, and not even worry about it when the chute doesn't open and it torpedoes the General's staff car.

Nowhere else can you land on a 3000 foot dirt strip, kick a bunch of ammo and stuff out on the ramp without stopping, then takeoff again before range control can call to tell you that you've landed on the wrong landing zone (LZ).

And talk about exotic travel; when C-130s go somewhere, they GO somewhere (usually for 3 months, unfortunately). This gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture long enough to give the locals a bad taste in their mouths regarding the USAF and Americans in general, not something those C-5 Galaxy pilots can do from their airport hotel rooms!

As far as recommendations for your course of study, I offer these:
1. Take a lot of math courses. You'll need all the advanced math skills you can muster to enable you to calculate per diem rates around the world, and when trying to split up the crew's bar tab so that the co-pilot really believes he owes 85% of the whole thing and the navigator believes he owes the other 20%.

2. Health sciences are important, too. You will need a thorough knowledge of biology to make those educated guesses of how much longer you can drink beer before the tremendous case of the G.I.s catches up to you from that meal you ate at the place that had the really good belly dancers in some God-forsaken foreign country whose name you can't even pronounce.

3. Social studies are also beneficial. It is important for a good TAC Airlifter to have the cultural knowledge to be able to ascertain the exact location of the nearest topless bar in any country in the world, then be able to convince the local authorities to release the loadmaster after he offends every sensibility of the local religion and culture.

4. A foreign language is helpful but not required. You will never be able to pronounce the names of the NAVAIDs in France, and it's much easier to ignore them and to go where you want to anyway. As a rule of thumb: waiters and bellhops in France are always called "Pierre", in Spain it's "Hey, Pedro" and in Italy, of course, it's "Mario". These terms of address also serve in other countries interchangeably, depending on the level of suaveness of the addressee.

5. A study of geography is paramount. You will need to know the basic location of all the places you've been when you get back from your temporary duty station (TDY) and are ready to stick those little pins in that huge world map you've got taped to your living room wall, right next to the giant wooden giraffe statue and beer stein collection.

Well, DJ, I hope this little note inspires you. And by the way, forget about the Academy thing. All TAC Airlifters know that there are waaaaay too few women and too little alcohol there to provide a well-balanced education. A nice, big state college or the Naval Academy would be a much better choice.

Hunter Mills,
Major USAF


Anonymous said...

That response is delicious. Just the right amount of saltiness combined with the sort of real world experience not found in a glossy pamphlet.

Dollars to donuts the good Major is more right than satirical.

DTG said...

Wow! An honest pilot!!! I knew a few back in the day....LOLOLOLOL

Unknown said...

Most likely, very good advice. LMAO!

Sean said...

I always have believed a fella should tell it like it is. Nothing can stop the Army Air Corps!

Anonymous said...

Sounds like the kid should have watched "Air America" instead of "Top Gun"...

GaryM said...

Sounds like the voice of experience to me. Damn good advice.

Jeff said...

Speaking of pompous.....

Anonymous said...

Major Mills has Herc brain. The mighty C-17 can do all that and more!!! It wasn't the four fanned trash can over Afghanistan airdropping twas the mighty Globemaster III. I know because there I was 12 October 2001, airdropping to Jawbreaker, the CIA Direct Action Unit on the ground, BEFORE ODA 555 showed up. The Herc has it's uses, so you gotta let the junior varsity play too!!! H-Minus!! LOAD CLEAR!

Bigg Ale
C-17A Stan Eval Loadmaster
MSGT Retired

Joe Hafner said...

OH crap I read this years ago and from time to time wondered where I could find it again. THANKS.

Bad Cyborg said...

Herkies - gotta love 'em. Never forget the day at Yokota when I looked out the window (we were RIGHT ON the flight line) and watched a 130 BACK into a parking spot on the ramp. Boys and girls, airplanes do NOT have a reverse gear - except for the 130. Reverse pitch on the props gives more than enough thrust to drive the thing backwards. Oh and sitting in a jump seat in one of those things when the Pile-its are putting the woah to it is a trip. If you arent buckled in well you get a quick trip to the forward end of the cargo bay.

But the colonel is right. Centerline thrust is sexy but flying the big birdies is where it's really at. Gotta keep your head a LLLLOOOOONNNNNGGGG way ahead of those babies. I spent a goodly amount of time in 141s and 130s and those guys are the real pilots. Was in a 141 on final to Kadina (Okinawa) with the gear down and flaps set for landing. we were still a coupla minutes out (so were still over the Pacific) when there was a huge BANG and the aircraft slewd hard to the right. I thought we had landed but no, we were still flying. The engines got a little quieter and we landed without incident. After we got back home to Yokota, I found out that the right outboard thrust reverser had decided to deploy IN FLIGHT! We all could've ended up in Davey Jones' Locker but the guys in front handeled it perfectly. Course since they didn't want to wait for the techs at Kadena to fix the problem they just pinned back the reversers on both outboard engines. Landing @ Yokota was "interesting" being as we only had half as much woah as normal and Yokota's runways are none too long on the best of days. But we got home and landed OK. Hope those pilots got some kind of commendation for airmanship. They deserved it.

Anonymous said...

What I like about the statement was the ability of the 130 pilots to get into the ground level of the society they are visiting. The fast mover jocks are stuck on large bases isolated from the society at large. The 130 guys TDY to some very remote locations during their disaster relief and special operations jaunts. I sat by a specter gunship pilot returning from the UAE and he told me some great stories of remote base operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. I live near an Airforce base with a squadron of Specter Gunships in residents and get to see them practicing their orbiting and targeting exercises all the time.

Anonymous said...

... and this is how they do it with a C-130:


Watch the whole thing.

Ken said...

It's changed a bit over the years, but always a welcome re-read.

Anonymous said...

This sounds like action figure therapy. Always good for a laugh.

PO'd American said...

I can't stop laughing at this response; someone forgot to say, I graduated from TPS at Edwards too. TPS grads are legendary. You'll hear this same shit from the bomber crews, the airlift crews, and the tactical crews. It's always "my junk is bigger than yours." The only ones that really never brag are the ATC, or now AETC pilots; they're just happy to go home in one piece at night.

The real heros are:
INDIAN SPRINGS, NV – An Air Force drone pilot who managed to fly his MQ-9 Reaper for 120 straight hours through multiple firefights will receive the Medal of Honor, Air Force officials confirmed today. Major Curtis Beasley will be the first Airman to receive the nation’s highest award since the Vietnam War.

He is also the first American to receive the Medal of Honor for actions taken inside the United States since the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Beasley, from Dubuque, Iowa, will receive the award for his actions at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada during the first days of August 2010. In a week of heavy combat he stayed at his console for more than five straight days, remotely piloting his Reaper drone through dozens of firefights 7,000 miles away in Afghanistan.

Eschewing proper meals, Major Beasley survived on “to-go plates” brought to him from the base dining facility by a junior Airman. A nearby bucket was used as a waste receptacle.

The medal will be in addition to the multiple Purple Hearts he has already been awarded for Carpal Tunnel Syndrome endured during the same event. He was also honored for a sprained ankle he received tripping over an extension cord while leaving his workstation.

Major Beasley received a congratulatory phone call from President Obama at Creech Air Force Base.

“When they told me the President of the United States was calling for me, I was a little reluctant to pick up the phone. It was my lunch break, and if you don’t get in line at least an hour early, the only prime rib they have left is medium well.”

Major Beasley eventually took the call while sipping a White Russian and sunning himself at the base relaxation pool in-between missions.

Beasley’s wife and family have also released a statement saying how proud they were, and how they had eventually forgiven him for missing family Scrabble night during the fighting.

“Most people think of drone pilots as glorified computer junkies, but we’re really modern-day snipers,” Major Beasley told Duffel Blog. “We’re out there, days at a time, watching the same compound, with nothing but candy bars from the vending machine to keep us going and the sounds of Sons of Anarchy playing on our iPhones.”

The Air Force is already trumpeting Major Beasley as a modern-day Carlos Hathcock, the legendary Marine sniper with 93 confirmed kills in Vietnam. Air Force officials have pointed out that Major Beasley’s 193 confirmed kills during the operation arguably make him one of the greatest marksmen in history. There are already plans to use him in recruiting commercials, similar to the Israeli Defence Force’s public parades for missile ace Idan Yahya.

“Air warfare sure has changed,” Major Beasley observed. “Even just a few years ago I could still fly my F-16 over Iraq, monitoring the same compound for hours at a time, eventually directing a laser-guided bomb on it… not like today.” Go Chair Force.

Jafo said...

Don't study about guerrilla warfare. Remain ignorant of the Yugoslav civil wars of the 1990s, except that Scott O'Grady got rescued by jar heads. Absolutely do not read 'War is a Racket' by Smedley Butler, who was a gangster. Don't consider who could be president in three years. Learn how to fluently say "我非常愿意吸你的鸡巴干净极了呀!" just in case you are captured by the Chicoms or they buy what's left of the country. If you really want to get far then emulate the perfume princes that David Hackworth despised.

Anonymous said...

Wow awesome memories. During my 20 year Air Force career most my assignments as an Avionics technician were with C-130 units. Everything the good Major said about C-130 missions and flight crew antics was spot on!
Made me think back a lot to those good old days...Best Damn Job I Ever Had!!!