An arriving C-130 Hercules taxies to a large hangar where about 60 Army paratroopers wait to board. Lugging about 100 pounds of gear, the Soldiers quickly line up and load into the aircraft as its four idling engines blow hot gusts over the tarmac.
Minutes later, the plane is flying at 150 mph and the paratroopers jump, being whisked away in a rush of fresh air during the routine training mission -- one of hundreds held each year at Pope Army Airfield. The C-130, a requested aircraft from Little Rock Air Force Base, Arkansas, then heads back to the hangar for another run.
While short lived, these airdrops are meticulously prepared months ahead by dozens of Air Force and Army planners. Their goal: to get Airmen and Soldiers primed to rapidly respond to urgent combat or humanitarian efforts.
Before aircrews can fly and paratroopers can jump, several obstacles lay in wait.
“No plan survives first contact whether that's with the enemy, maintenance, weather, aircrew sickness (or) jumper rigging issues,” said Lt. Col. Jimmy Fuller, who heads the 18th Air Force’s combat operations division at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois.
“We fix a lot of problems that come up to keep aircraft flying,” he continued. “We just can't predict all of them.”
Source: US Air Force
Date: Aug 24, 2016