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Thoughts from the past / Love my A/C


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This board has re kindled so many memories. For almost 40 years I had not even given a thought to my 4 years as a C-130 LM or how lucky I was to be assigned my job in the USAF. Only 1 in 50,000 enlisted in the USAF are on Flight Status. As I look back after 40 years I recalled one particular mission that displayed just how much my A/C protected his crew. Our mission was 2 hour low level route then drop CDS and finish with touch and goes. Shortly after I arrived at the Aircraft I was greeted by a very grumpy Check Ride LM. He introduced him self as MSGT A$$ [email protected]@.

He advised me that I was getting a no notice check ride. He went through my flight bag, checked ever TO for the latest up dates then inspected my O2 Mask and helmet. Let me add being a jerk as he did it. The Duty Loadmaster had dropped off the drop kit and I started to rig the CDS for the drop. One of the key pieces of the kit was not to be found. It was part of the pully that cut the load free. The ILM continued to hound me and I noticed the A/C watching him as we prepared the drop. As we approached departure time and still missing gear he said "your busted and you failed your check ride". He started to collect his gear and asked the FE to call for crew transport. To this day I am sure he came out here to bust me and leave the flight. The A/C had been watching his very un professional conduct. The A/C asked him where he was going. He said "home". The A/C said in about 5 hours. You just became the primary Loadmaster. We scrubbed the drop. We went out and did 5 hours of touch and goes. He wore the head set and I strapped in on the crew bunk. I think he said "Galley set" about 40 times....3 days later I had a re check and passed with no issues. It felt great to see the leadership and how my A/C went to bat for me.....    

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Damn good of him. I was in the RADAR shop and flew with the 7th SOS many times in the early 80's. They usually took a RADAR and ECM troop any time they went TDY. The aircrew were always great, treated us like crew made sure we stayed in the same hotel if at all possible. Fun times.

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When I became an EL one of my goals is no be nothing like your evaluator.

An evaluation, especially a spot eval is intended to provide the commander (Ops Group, IIRC) and Chief Loadmaster with a snapshot of how their people are doing. Aside from asking some questions, my intent is to be a fly on the wall and let the ML do his job. I want the evaluatee to be comfortable around me, so I get a more accurate snapshot of how they're doing. 

Occasionally, I'll step in briefly to make a suggestion on how to do something better or safer. My intention isn't to be an Evaluator-tab-wearing Nazi. I do not wear an Evaluator tab on purpose. I don't even trash talk and threaten to hook someone. That's bad for business. Luckily, I haven't had to go any further and hook someone. Yet. If during Q&A I find a weak area, I generally don't go digging, but I'll point that out to the evaluatee. Again, luckily, I haven't found enough weak knowledge spots to hook someone. Sort of like a dentist does when he checks for cavities. 

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My A/C for most of my time in the USAF was Captain Jerry Smith, then Major Smith and finally when he retired from the USAF he was a Lt. Col.  He spent almost the entire time as a command pilot, instructor and even served for a few years as a C-130 liaison with the RAF at Lakenheath.  At 18 and a beginning loadmaster he became a mentor and he remained my mentor until he died in 2009.  I cannot count the times when I was unsure of my skills or unsure of myself that he didn't give me encouragement or guidance.  He could land a C-130 and win every bet we ever had that I would know when he touched down. He could also bring that bird into a jungle strip and shake every tooth in my head loose getting it to stop before we ran out of room. 

There were several instances he backed me up, one in particular I will always remember.  On a long overseas passenger flight I gave the announcement that whomsover used the honeybucket first was required to haul the contents away at landing.  I had only seen it used twice ever.  On this flight an Army Major asked me to set it up for him and to be honest it took me a while to figure out how to lower it.  At the end of the flight he and the A/C were talking at the end of the ramp and I interrupted them and mentioned to the Major it was his job to take the contents; which I was holding.  He made a rather "SA" comment on how I should be happy to carry it off and my A/C still a Captain unloaded on him.  He took it and I was careful not to say a thing. Yep I cared greatly for Lt. Col Jerry J Smith and I still do. Thanks for the post and allowing me to remember.

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I guess we do all have memories of the great people and the not so great we crewed or worked with. At 19 years of age I was too young to understand true leadership and how much responsibility my A/C had. I flew with some great A/Cs in my day. The best teaching moment was with Maj. Cherry. He was not only a fantastic pilot but a great leader as well. I loaded us out with three pallets of 175 rounds. 30,000 lbs and a very routine load. I was a month into my in country tour and feeling pretty confident about my self. As the first pallet rolled on I locked it in two locks too far forward. The next two same thing... How can 18 inches make that much difference? LOTS!! 30,000 lbs X 18" is a lot of moments. Cant remember the field but know we did have 10,000 feet in front of us.  We started take off roll we hit airspeed and the plane would not fly. as we increased speed it finally pulled off the ground. Yoke in his lap and full nose up trim we were airborne. Maj Cherry "Load Pilot". "Go Pilot"..."What was our CG." I grabbed the slip stick and re figured the load. 12% of MAC???? I knew I was busted, grounded and kicked off flight status. Maj Cherry said he knew we were nose heavy and would add a few knots to the touch down speed. Once on the ground and off loaded I was waiting for my ass chewing. Maj Cherry came back to the ramp and sat down beside me. He calmly told me that no load was routine. He probably helped me become a very good loadmaster. He was calm and reminded me how much precision was required to be a crew member and we all had to do our jobs with precision and we must verify every load and CG. As I moved on in my professional life I used his approach with great results. Thank you Maj Cherry for that great lesson in life.. 

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