Friday, July 02, 2010

TOP STORY>>Airmen make drops at Pope

Leader staff writer

POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. — There was more hard work for the four crews from the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base during the recent joint forcible-entry exercise with the Army.

This Leader reporter went along with a crew from LRAFB’s 53rd Airlift Squadron. The crew flying a C-130 E-model was part of an 18-plane formation of C-130s and C-17s carrying 1,000 Army paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C., jumping out of the planes or dropping Humvees from the sky to the designated drop zone during the night all within 13 minutes.

Before each exercise, the flight crews would meet for pre-flight briefings. One briefing was held with the crews flying both C-130s and C-17s and the other was held separately for C-130s. Pilots, co-pilots and navigators learned the latest weather conditions, what position their plane was flying in the line-up and what they were carrying. Then the individual flight crews would head to smaller meeting rooms to discuss and study their flight routes and timing.

After the flights, the C-130 crews returned to Pope and held post-flight briefings. Crews discussed how the flights went and how to improve the next exercise.

The crew from the 53rd Airlift Squadron had 60 paratroopers bail out on both sides of the C-130 in less than 30 seconds.

The C-130 was loaded with two Humvees instead of transporting paratroopers. The planned heavy- equipment drop had a snafu when the stairs to the toilet fell down in the cargo area. A loadmaster noticed the problem and told the crew to cancel the drop for safety and to not risk damaging the plane when the Humvees were pulled out of the cargo ramp.

Work continued late into the night for the crew. After landing back at Pope to unload the Humvees on the ground, the C-130 was flown to Mackall Army Airfield, N.C., where a large heavy truck was loaded onto the plane.

The C-130 crew was worried about fuel usage. They were unable to shut down the engines because a compressor had broke.

They were not sure if they could be restarted.

The control tower finally allowed the plane to take off. The C-130 then flew for 15 minutes to a dirt landing strip near the drop zone. In the black of night, Maj. Lars Johnsen briefly touched the C-130’s wheels down for a second, before forcing the plane back into the air.

The C-130 circled around and made a second landing.

With the C-130’s engines running, the Army truck was unloaded and driven off the plane’s cargo ramp.

With a light fuel load and short runway, Johnsen revved the C-130’s engines high and sped down the dirt strip. The C-130 pushed the passengers hard back into their seats as it rose into the air and flew back to Pope.


On the last day of the joint exercise, this Leader reporter was going to experience a high-altitude drop of a pallet of materials weighing 1,140 pounds from a C-130 during an improved-container delivery system drop. This was a daytime flight instead of being in 18 plane formation of C-130s and C-17s at night earlier in the week.

The ride was with a new crew in a second C-130 E-model from LRAFB. The flight crew comprised of Capt. Lauren Johnican, aircraft commander with the 50th Airlift Squadron; Capt. Christopher Smith, co-pilot; Capt. Sanam Qadri, navigator; Staff Sgt. Joseph Langer, flight engineer; Senior Airman Robert Wilson, loadmaster, all members of the 61st Airlift Squadron, and Staff
Sgt. Tristan Smith and Airman 1st Class Patrick Thompson, both loadmasters with the 53rd Airlift Squadron.

Unfortunately an equipment malfunction occurred before the C-130’s engines were even started. A computer on the C-130s would not sync up with the dropsondes and make a connection. The dropsonde, resembling a lawn dart, is an instrument attached to a small parachute and is thrown by the loadmaster from the plane. The dropsonde measures wind velocity and wind direction as it travels to the ground.

The instrument relays the information to a computer on the C-130. The measurements tell the aircrew where to drop the cargo from the plane so the cargo reaches the drop zone.

After working on the problem for nearly two hours, the time for the scheduled drop had passed. The planned drop was cancelled. A K-loader cargo-transport vehicle was driven to the rear of the plane. The pallet was then rolled off the C-130 straight onto the vehicle.

If the drop exercise had occurred the C-130 would have made a first pass over the drop zone at 7,000 feet. A loadmaster would have tossed a dropsonde from the plane. When the C-130 made a second pass of the drop zone it would be flying at a lower height of 6,000 feet. The pilot flies at a seven degree angle to make the cargo deck have an incline. The cargo door and the cargo ramp are opened. Gravity pulls on the loaded pallet and it rolls out the back of the C-130.


During the flight back to Jacksonville, Capt. Michael Kis-singer, a pilot with the 53rd Airlift Squadron, talked about why he joined the Air Force. Kissinger, who lives in Ward, is in his fifth year with the service. He is qualified to fly C-130 E-models and C-130 H3s.

He said as a 5-year-old, he knew he wanted to be in the military. In the eighth grade, he wanted to be in the Air Force.

“I wanted to see the world. My first year flying I went to seven different countries,” Kissinger said.

By his second year, he went to 15 countries. He has flown to Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Chad, Romania, Germany, England, Oman, the United Arab Emirates and Croatia.

Kissinger, originally from Kansas City, Mo., was home schooled through the eighth grade. He is the oldest of six siblings. He has two sisters and three brothers, but none are in the military. Kissinger’s parents were not in the service either.

Kissinger’s grandfather, Joseph Zollmann, was a pilot during the Vietnam War and flew C-123s. Kissinger’s uncle, Steve Zollmann, was a pilot and instructor at Laughlin Air Force Base, Texas, and flew C-144s.

He said he reason he joined the service was a combination of his grandfather talking about the Air Force and watching “Star Trek: The Next Generation.”

Kissinger took ROTC at University of Missouri at Colum-bia, Mo., where he earned a bachelor’s degree in liberal arts.

He spoke about why he likes to fly.

Kissinger said, “There is certain sense of freedom being in the air. It’s fun to work with the crew, manipulate the controls and execute a mission.

“Night is a challenge because it is dark and adds another (element) to navigation and coordination. With day flying, you get to see everything. It is preferred,” he said.

He spoke about flying the C-130 E-models, explaining, “These planes are 1963 Vietnam-era. There is not of lot of
automation. It is a very hands-on platform.”

Kissinger and his wife, Amanda, have two children, a daughter, Shyann, 5, who finished pre-K at Ward Central Elementary, and a son, Thomas, 2.