MANKATO — When a C-130 takes off in combat, it skims the ground to keep a low profile and avoid gunfire, then shoots up at a 45-degree angle to escape.
When a C-130 takes off with 10 reporters and radio DJs inside, it skims the ground to lull them into complacency, then shoots up at a 45-degree angle to pin them to their seats and make their jowls sag.
In both cases, the aircraft picks up a few Gs en route, doubling the occupants’ weight.
I cast about for the correct word to capture the sensation. Ah, yes, there it is. In my notebook, I write “fat.”
I really don’t know where the Gs go after that on a normal mission. I imagine they manage an orderly exit of the cargo plane, leaving the occupants with nothing other than fluttery stomachs.
On our flight, the Gs decided they had a better place to be, abandoning us all at once.
We media reps were strapped in tight, but parts of us floated for perhaps four or five seconds of weightlessness.
To precisely capture that feeling for readers, I record it dutifully in the notebook: “not fat.”
The three Blue Angels in the cargo bay were, of course, ready, and attached to the walls with cords. They put hands on the walls and jumped so their legs flipped back. Totally milked it.
As the C-130 continued to demonstrate its tactical capabilities, banking to and fro, I may have briefly adopted a countenance of slight concern. One of the Marines gives me a puzzled look and asks if I’m OK.
While the physical effects were disquieting, I don’t believe I was truly scared, not even the flutters I get before a commercial flight. I can thank Captain A.J. Harrell for that.
The Blue Angels invited two Free Press reporters — me and intern Danny Wegner, who recorded a video for our website — and eight other media members on a 10-minute flight.
If the Blue Angel’s F-18s are sparrows, this C-130 is a pelican. It was not, incidentally, the Blue Angels’ typical transport plane, nicknamed “Fat Albert,” which is being repainted.
The end of the flight was something of a simulation of a combat landing, where the C-130 dives and generally looks like it is about to crash.
And it does, Capt. Harrell notes, though “under control.”
It then makes what’s called a “max effort” stop, which is pretty much what it sounds like. This plane was built to get in fast, on short airfields if necessary, then get out fast.
Soon after the reporters pile out, there’s an American flag flying just above the cockpit. Just as soon as the plane lands, every time it lands, someone scrambles up through a hole and puts it back.
Dan Linehan is a Free Press staff writer. Call him at 344-6355 or email email@example.com.