Tequila + C130 Flight = Very Bad Day


For you non-military types, this is a picture of a C-130 Hercules. It's a plane that's been flying, in one form or another, since before I was even born. And still today, it remains a workhorse ... especially for intra-theater airlift. But that's not the reason I chose it as my picture of the day.

You may have noticed the title of this blog post up above. Yes, there's a story behind it. My buddy Lou Pell just mentioned it on one of his facebook status updates about a week ago, so the memory is (re)freshed in my mind.

So it's circa 1993. We've been deployed down to Brindisi Italy for about 3 months, providing weather support to special ops/search and rescue aircraft flying into Bosnia. It wasn't a bad TDY at all. San Vito AB was still open at the time. We lived in big tents, but we still shopped in the BX and Commissary, and went to the base club almost every night. And that's where the story of the C-130 ride from hell comes in ...

It's finally time to go home. We're excited, we're going to get to see our families again. Our relief is in place, and is already working. We are scheduled to catch our flight home at 0630 the next morning. So what were we going to do with the rest of our time in Italy? You guessed it, we went straight to the club ...

And proceeded to do shot, after shot, after shot of Tequila. I think we left the club sometime between 2:30 and 3am. How in the world we woke up an hour and half or so later to even get to the flight line is beyond my comprehension level; but we did ... unfortunately. Now I don't know how many of you reading this have ever ridden on a C-130; but I gotta tell you, it's a slow, noisy, cold, and Very Bumpy ride. I don't remember exactly how long the flight back to England was ... 6 1/2 or 7 hours maybe. However long it was, if I ever needed an excuse to stop drinking Tequila I got one ... but good.

I suppose the one bright side was that by the time I actually saw my wife and young son when we got off the plane, there was absolutely no danger of throwing up on them ... my stomach was way empty by that point.

Anyway, is there a moral to this story? Just the obvious one. No deeper meaning that I can come up with. I suppose we could have just stuck to beer. Then again, I suppose we could have just not gone to the club too.

But hey, if I hadn't been at least occasionally "young and dumb", I wouldn't have nearly as many self deprecating stories to tell now that I'm older, and supposedly wiser. ;-)



  1. The worst part about flying in Little Hercules and its big brother is the lack of windows. Ha. I flew on a c140 mission out of Seattle to practice mid-air refueling. Talk about 6 hours of non-stop shaking. The worst part being the boxed diners we received while boarding the flight. Myself and another were pretty comfortable flying and would pass money back and forth each time someone puked needless to say they didn't like us much. Looking back had we been drinking the whole night before it might not have been so pretty. Funny story thanks for sharing.
    .-= The Real Josh´s last blog ..Ideas on how to double your income in under 6 months =-.

  2. Great story! I have one similar.
    I was stationed at Incirlik, Turkey back in the 90s and as a photojournalist, one day I was tasked with photographing helicopter ops over "some mountains somewhere near where Noah's Ark supposedly is"
    Anyway, a couple hours before takeoff, the crew chief asked me "have you ever had the sloppy Joes from the flightline chow hall?"
    Of course, I said "no" and he convinced me to go get one before the long day began.
    Long story short, that Sloppy Joe got painted all over back of that C-130 that day. The rear cargo door was open and I was strapped and hanging out the back taking pics and spewing all at the same time. Awesome day!
    .-= Allyn´s last blog ..Sold For $30K: The Commitment To BIG Posts =-.

  3. Al, I am surprised you fell for that one, what an old and classic trick...
    .-= The Real Josh´s last blog ..Ideas on how to double your income in under 6 months =-.

  4. Ahh,the good ol' days.Now you have one beer and you are drunk.Too bad you didn't throw up when you got off the plane because you know who would have deserved it;-)

  5. I dont know if you guys recall an old airbase in Edmonton , Alberta Canada called Namao - but our guys came back from Atlanta with a big Tomahawk painted on the side from the World series between Toronto and Atlanta - but when we painted a Big Blue Jays Logo on the American the Aircraft commander was some pissed - cheers

  6. Hi Josh,

    A more recent C130 story I have is from 2 summers ago when I was "hopping" (catching space available military flights) from Hawaii to Virginia and back. It was near the end of the summer, so there were lots of families trying to get back to the mainland in time for school ... and of course very few flights with available seats. Well this one night, they announced that a C130 would be going to Pt. Mugu NAS in CA, and had like 11 available seats. There were actually a couple of retired guys who ended up getting on that flight, because the active duty people (who had higher priority on the list) refused to take their families on an 8-10 C130 flight. I can hardly say that I blame them :-)

    Oh yea, and during my trip I ate plenty of those boxed lunches !

  7. lol ... what have I started here ... let's all share our barf stories :-D

    I actually like your story better Al ... it almost would have been worth getting a little sick to be able to take pictures hanging out the back of the plane. I think my camera makes me crazy ... if you remove the words "take pictures" from the above sentence, it's not something I could ever imagine myself saying.

    So, just curious, I learned my tequila lesson ... do you now avoid sloppy joes? ;-)

  8. In hindsight ... you may have a point. (for anyone confused, it was my now ex-wife who I didn't puke on at the time of this story)

    lol, if I did something like that now, you'd just call me a dumbass, and tell me it was my own fault I feel like crap. You'd be right of course ... but you'd love me anyway. ;-)

  9. Hi Daryl,

    lol, yep that's Americans for you ... we can play practical jokes ... but usually not too happy when the tables are turned. ;-)

  10. Great story Todd, I am a Dutch guy and never was at San Vito though spend a lot of time at he O'club/the Galaxy at RAF M'hall at that time.
    Talking about a few drinks too much!


  11. Hi Peter,

    Oh boy, I myself have had "a few drinks too many" at the RAF Mildenhall Galaxy club. I actually worked there, first as a dining room waiter, then as a bartender, from 1985 until 1989 when my dad retired and we moved back to the States. I returned to England a few years later (to RAF Alconbury) once I had joined the Air Force myself.

  12. A lot has changed over the years Todd, but I still love to visit that area and will be there in Feb/March meeting some old friends at the Bird in Hand.
    The Marauder (sportsbar) is gone, the Galaxy (and Mickeys) are now "On Base" The "Smoke House" is also gone.
    Together with a buddy of mine (he flew with the 67th SOS) it was a blast!

  13. Unfortunately, I haven't been back to England since the mid 90s, so I'm not sure I'd even recognize a lot of places. I do have some pretty fond memories of the Bird in Hand though. We used to stop in there for a couple of hours, while we were waiting for military clubs to get busy. I was 18-19 years old at the time. I remember the outdoor parties, and the wet t-shirt contests ... that was definitely the place to be. :-)

  14. Hi Todd,
    I was there about the same time doing CSAR. We might have seen each other in the club (I mean gym).
    .-= Michael´s last blog ..Ways to Personalize Marketing Greeting Cards =-.

  15. Airsickness! Yes, been there, done that! I flew as a Loadmaster out of Van Nuys ANGB, CA for several years. Most of our airdrops were at Edwards AFB, CA. Of course, the navigators always planned the routes over the Mojave desert mountains. Even at night during the summer, the air was extremely rough. Very few loadmasters made it through the airdrop without looking a little green!
    What I did, out of self defense, was to try to lay down until my duties required me to move around. I found a way to beat airsickness: lay on your right side. The "G" forces work with your stomach to empty it instead of forcing the contents up! Keeping your head up, also, helped when you had to stand or bend over/squat.

  16. Go to YouTube and search for "Dyess C-130" look for my video having around 363,000 views.

    I was a TV news journalist and went into Somalia on a C-130. I'm also a pilot.

    The Dyess guys landed their C-130s on a dirt strip outside of Biadoa (The City of Death) in Somalia, where I would not have wanted to land my slow flying tiny Cessna.

    Man, I love those C-130s... Saw my first one at Pope Air Force Base when I was a soldier at an Airborne unit at Fort Bragg in 1971, before shipping off to Vietnam. The C-130 is old as dirt, but keeps getting better and better all the time.

    (Hey, can you tell me where I can find historical weather data for January 23, 2010 around the Dyess area?)


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