An Impressive Feat

Probably the first time you experienced a 100 mile per hour ride was when you were 16  years old, newly licensed to drive, you headed out SC 34 toward Bingham, with no obvious traffic in sight and encouraged by your equally daring passenger friends, you hit the gas pedal and anxiously watched the fast  approaching road ahead, then the needle hit the magic number: 100.  What would Dad think was one immediate fleeting thought after it was over? During the inaugural event no one said a word, breathing was suspended and all eyes were affixed on the slow moving speedometer needle, the adrenalin being pumped as the speed increased, appropriately accented by the roaring of the struggling engine.   Then it was over except for the empty guilt feeling which took over as the excitement faded. Reality took over.
Thus my column introduction to my friend,  former LTC USAF veteran, a Clemson graduate who spent thousands of hours moving along  the sky at a routine speed of 400 mph+ and carrying a potentially explosive cargo.  I wonder if this piloting act ever became routine or was it mostly a white knuckled event?
Now retired and rehabilitating after a fall, he remains mentally active by socializing with his many new friends, reading and working ‘difficult’ crossword puzzles mostly without any assistance from references.  He maintains that this and other positive habits keep him mentally alert and it shows.  He is a marvelous listener and naturally well versed in his past life as a retired KC 130 (tanker) pilot, the aircraft commander, a position he held for some 25 years with thousands of hours airborne – mostly at  400 mph  soaring  high in the clouds delivering fuel to anxious aircraft comrades around the world.  Their mission even their lives were dependent on the refueling success provided by this ‘gas station’ in the sky. Not to be underestimated was the skill of the pilot flying the host tanker in a steady course so that coupling between the two aircraft could be made safely and quickly.  By the way, his grandson, a scholarship athlete, recently hit a home run in his first college ballgame, one of the many proud moments of their lives.
According to Wikipedia, the C-130 Hercules is a workhorse aircraft used by many countries around the world.  It can be reconfigured to serve passengers (92), litter (medical) patients, troops, delivery of military equipment, and as a gun ship and tanker (KC) among other uses.  Depending on conditions and version/type of aircraft, the plane has a useful load of 72,000 pounds with a maximum takeoff weight of 175,000 pounds.  The takeoff distance is 3,127 feet at 155,000 pounds and with a cruising speed of 400 mph powered by four Rolls Royce turboprop engines, 4637 shp each. The normal range is 2,835 miles and has a service ceiling of 28,000 feet. The typical aircraft is 97 feet 9 inches in length, 38 feet 10 inches in height and with a wingspan of 132 feet 7 inches.
The crew consists of 4, 2 pilots, one crew chief and one loadmaster with additional personnel for specific missions.  Dillon can claim 2 KC-130 pilots.
Flying one would be an impressive feat almost as exciting as driving a car 100 mph for the first time.
Bill Lee, PO Box 128,
Hamer, SC 29547

Print Friendly, PDF & Email