Keeping the Herc Hauling:

Currently within Southwest Asia, the Air Force has some 110 C-130 Hercules loadmasters—active duty and Air National Guard from various units around the globe—who are key to getting passengers and cargo around the theater, reports Air Force journalist TSgt. Mark Getsy. In SWA, the loadmasters work in teams of two, rather than the standard one per flight, primarily to keep watch for surface-to-air threats. Each loadmaster of the 386th Air Expeditionary Wing averages one flight every other day while deployed to SWA theater. ANG SMSgt. Dan Wiseley from Selfridge ANGB, Mich., who is on his 11th deployment to the area, says that shots at the aircraft are less frequent than during his first deployments. Before every flight, the loadmasters coordinate with the air terminal operations center to establish what the payload will be, attend briefings on the mission’s combat environment, then conduct extensive pre-flight inspections to ensure the cargo doesn’t exceed aircraft limitations. At the other end, they often do it all over again for the return flight.