I stepped out of the big blue truck and walked just beyond the gate. The scent of the impending rain hangs heavy in the air. The local songbirds are all huddled under the bushes for shelter as thunder rolls across the ridge. The empty roads beckons me to come & explore but the Darkening sky forbids me to walk too far. As I gaze down the road I allow my imagination to wander beneath the approaching thunderheads. My thoughts are interrupted by a different thunder. Its the sound of four large engines turning propellers on the tarmac in the distance. It has the be the 130th Airlift Wing warming up a C-130. The massive aircraft is often seen floating above the Kanawha Valley. It’s truly an awesome sight to see them emerge from the thick clouds on days like today.
When I was 11 years old my Civil Air Patrol group was transported to the Patuxent River Naval Air Test Station by the 130th AW ( the aircraft is a C-130 & the Air National Guard Group that is stationed her happens to also be the 130th group. ) My impression of the C-130 was that it’s the aeronautical version of a four wheel drive SUV. The seating for troop transport in the late 70s & early 80s was an adventure all of it’s own for a farm-boy of my age. Imagine that you’re locked into a tube with woven web lawn chairs hanging from the interior of the tube. They strap you in and taxi to the runway. The 130 is an STOL aircraft. That stands for Short Take Off & Landing which means that its angle on take off is really steep. The woven basket that you’re seated in swings like a pendulum as the plane jumps into the air. The sky on that day was really cloudy like you see in the feature image and it was turbulent. I suppose the resulting ride reminded me of sliding around on a muddy jeep trail which is what makes me think of them in the frame of a four wheel drive. Or, maybe the pilot was just adding a little extra adventure for a cargo load of wide eyed kids but it was like an amusement ride. Once we had reached a certain altitude we were allowed to get up and walk around a bit. everyone rushed towards the windows. For may of us it was first time off the ground. land was also an experience because they reverse the engines to land and its not like a passenger jet. There’s little or no soundproofing in the big green birds and when the propellers start the other direction its quite a racket.
I relive that trip several times a day now when they fly over the office at my day job. They fly really close to this road & if I can ever time it right I should be able to get some good shots of them. Today however, the combination of rain & limited time forced me to climb back into the truck before the C-130 made its appearance. As I rolled the big blue truck back onto the hardtop the large drops of water made contact with the windshield and I knew that today wasn’t the day. That’s okay. It’s an event that occurs on this road every day and I’ll get the shot eventually. It’s just a matter of timing. I do have a decent shot from an earlier flyover to share but I’ll continue to watch the sky for that perfect shot.
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