HomeMediaArticle Display

Guard Airmen make splash at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Harold Wood, a retired Alaska Air National Guard senior master sergeant, speaks with Tech. Sgt. Anthony Barker, a loadmaster with the 211th Rescue Squadron, May 5, 2018, inside a 211th RQS HC-130J Combat King II at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering. Wood was a flight mechanic with the Alaska Air National Guard’s 144th Air Transport Squadron and flew with C-123 Providers before converting to C-130 Hercules. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Levi Crawford is a student at Mountain View Elementary School in Kenai and is framed by a 168th Wing KC-135 Stratotanker May 5, 2018, at the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering. Crawford aspires to be a 737 airline pilot and said he was impressed with the 707-based KC-135. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Alaska Air National Guard Lt. Col. Eric Budd, 211th Rescue Squadron commander and HC-130J Combat King II pilot, asks questions about 3-year-old Quest Marecle’s toy airplanes May 5, 2018, during the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The recently manufactured HC-130J sports a fully digital “glass” cockpit. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Ryley Fiscus, 12, foreground, rests in the control section of a 168th Wing KC-135 Stratotanker boom pod May 5, 2018, while brother, Ronnie, 16, looks on during the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The KC-135 supports the Air Force mission of global reach and can refuel fighters, other jets and large propeller-driven aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

A line of Alaska community members waits to tour the cockpit of a 249th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III during the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The C-17 conducts combat and strategic airlift operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Liz Davidson, son, Theo, 3, and husband, Eric, prepare to tour a 249th Airlift Squadron C-17 Globemaster III during the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport. The C-17 conducts combat and strategic airlift operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Alaska Air National Guard Capt. Corrie Elmes is a KC-135 Stratotanker pilot with the 168th Wing. The KC-135 supports the Air Force mission of global reach and can refuel fighters, other jets and large propeller-driven aircraft. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

Alaska Guardsmen showcase at Great Alaska Aviation Gathering

Tech. Sgt. Anthony Barker is a HC-130J Combat King II loadmaster with the 249th Airlift Squadron, Alaska Air National Guard. The HC-130 supports combat rescue operations. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by David Bedard)

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska --

When Harold Wood, a retired Alaska Air National Guard senior master sergeant, entered a 211th Rescue Squadron HC-130J Combat King II on display during the Great Alaska Aviation Gathering at Ted Stevens Airport, it was like boarding a time machine to the future.

 

Wood served as a C-123J Provider flight mechanic with the Guard’s 144th Air Transport Squadron before graduating to the C-130E and ultimately the C-130H Hercules cargo aircraft.

 

In terms of technology, Wood said, the C-123 is as far removed from the HC-130 as can be imagined. The Provider used “Double Wasp” radial piston engines assisted by wingtip turbojets to perform short takeoffs from Alaska’s austere airfields.

 

By contrast, the Combat King is pushed by compact turboprop engines churning out 4,637 shaft horsepower each, granting it plenty of thrust to catapult off short, unimproved Alaska Bush runways without the aid of jet power.

 

The Joint-Base Elmendorf-Richardson based HC-130 was one of three Alaska Air National Guard aircraft at the gathering, which also included a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft of  the 249th Airlift Squadron at JBER as well as a KC-135 Stratotanker of the 168th Wing at Eielson Air Force Base.

 

During Wood’s visit, he spoke at length with Tech. Sgt. Anthony Barker, 211th RQS loadmaster, about their shared experiences as well as the differences the HC-130J represents. While the elder Airman marveled at the new rescue aircraft’s digital cockpit and load-handling system, he pointed out how the foldable passenger seats and the litter stanchions are essentially unchanged from the E-model he flew with decades ago.

 

Newly fielded with the 211th RQS, Barker said this year’s gathering was the first time the aircraft – designed to support combat rescue operations – was showcased at a major local aviation event.

 

“The mission of the Combat King II is to locate survivors, assist with rescue operations, refuel enroute or on station, and drop pararescuemen and rescue supplies,” Barker explained.

 

Perhaps the most conspicuous difference between an HC-130 and a C-130 Hercules “slick” cargo aircraft is the Combat King’s refueling pods, which are designed to refuel HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters belonging to the 210th Rescue Squadron. Pararescuemen and combat rescue officers of the 212th Rescue Squadron can get to isolated survivors or aircrew by jumping out of an HC-130 or inserting via hoist from a Pave Hawk.

 

Barker said the J-model replaced the HC-130P/N Combat King. With scimitar blades driven by newer engines, the loadmaster said the J uses less fuel and has as much power with three engines as the older model had with four.

 

Exhibited next to the Combat King was a 168th Wing Stratotanker that rolled off the assembly line in 1960.

 

Air National Guard Capt. Corrie Elmes, 168th Wing KC-135 pilot, said he enjoyed fielding questions from community members young and old.

 

“The questions from the kids are the best part,” Elmes said.  “‘Do we have guns on the airplane?’ ‘Do we drop bombs?’ ‘Have I ever been shot at?’

 

“When you see them sit down in one of the pilot’s seats or sit back in the boom pod, their eyes light up,” the pilot continued. “It’s so exciting to see that drive start for wanting to fly.”

 

Based on a Boeing 707 jetliner platform, the aircraft drew the rapt attention of 11-year-old Levi Crawford.

 

The would-be aviator waited patiently to talk to Elmes, stating he had a strange question: Is the Stratotanker a Boeing? The captain explained it is indeed a Boeing, the same manufacturer of the airline 737s Crawford wants to fly when he earns his stripes and wings.

 

While most children shuffled to the back of the KC-135 where the cramped boom pod – the station where the refueling boom is operated – is, Crawford was more interested in the cockpit where the aircraft has been piloted for 47 years longer than he has been alive.

 

Whereas the HC-130 is designed to refuel combat search-and-rescue helicopters at low altitude, the venerable Stratotanker is built to refuel fighters, other jet aircraft and larger propeller-driven aircraft at higher elevations.

 

With its bull shark-like fuselage, towering T-tail, and a rear ramp opening that can swallow a tank, the 249th AS Globemaster and its cavernous cargo compartment provided the largest indoor mobile venue for visitors. Tables set up for Guard recruiters and the unit booster club took up little real estate inside the cargo bird.

 

Air National Guard Maj. Jason Guinnee, a C-17 pilot with the 249th AS, said the Globemaster fits between the usually forward-deployed C-130 and the enormous strategic-lift C-5 Galaxy.

 

“It can take more cargo than a C-130 can and a little bit less than a C-5, but it can get into almost all of the same locations a C-130 can,” Guinnee said.

 

The C-17 pilot said he was happy to take time greeting and talking with community members.

 

“It’s their airplane,” Guinnee said. “They pay for the fuel. We’re just lucky enough to be able to fly it.”

 

Elmes explained the significance of Alaska Air National Guard presence in the community.

 

“It’s important for us to get out there to show support for the community,” he said. “It also gives us recruiting opportunities for people to know what we do and where we are, and know we are their hometown Air Force.

 

“We also get to see the support other people give to us,” Elmes continued. “It’s humbling at times.”

USAF Comments Policy
If you wish to comment, use the text box below. AF reserves the right to modify this policy at any time.

This is a moderated forum. That means all comments will be reviewed before posting. In addition, we expect that participants will treat each other, as well as our agency and our employees, with respect. We will not post comments that contain abusive or vulgar language, spam, hate speech, personal attacks, violate EEO policy, are offensive to other or similar content. We will not post comments that are spam, are clearly "off topic", promote services or products, infringe copyright protected material, or contain any links that don't contribute to the discussion. Comments that make unsupported accusations will also not be posted. The AF and the AF alone will make a determination as to which comments will be posted. Any references to commercial entities, products, services, or other non-governmental organizations or individuals that remain on the site are provided solely for the information of individuals using this page. These references are not intended to reflect the opinion of the AF, DoD, the United States, or its officers or employees concerning the significance, priority, or importance to be given the referenced entity, product, service, or organization. Such references are not an official or personal endorsement of any product, person, or service, and may not be quoted or reproduced for the purpose of stating or implying AF endorsement or approval of any product, person, or service.

Any comments that report criminal activity including: suicidal behaviour or sexual assault will be reported to appropriate authorities including OSI. This forum is not:

  • This forum is not to be used to report criminal activity. If you have information for law enforcement, please contact OSI or your local police agency.
  • Do not submit unsolicited proposals, or other business ideas or inquiries to this forum. This site is not to be used for contracting or commercial business.
  • This forum may not be used for the submission of any claim, demand, informal or formal complaint, or any other form of legal and/or administrative notice or process, or for the exhaustion of any legal and/or administrative remedy.

AF does not guarantee or warrant that any information posted by individuals on this forum is correct, and disclaims any liability for any loss or damage resulting from reliance on any such information. AF may not be able to verify, does not warrant or guarantee, and assumes no liability for anything posted on this website by any other person. AF does not endorse, support or otherwise promote any private or commercial entity or the information, products or services contained on those websites that may be reached through links on our website.

Members of the media are asked to send questions to the public affairs through their normal channels and to refrain from submitting questions here as comments. Reporter questions will not be posted. We recognize that the Web is a 24/7 medium, and your comments are welcome at any time. However, given the need to manage federal resources, moderating and posting of comments will occur during regular business hours Monday through Friday. Comments submitted after hours or on weekends will be read and posted as early as possible; in most cases, this means the next business day.

For the benefit of robust discussion, we ask that comments remain "on-topic." This means that comments will be posted only as it relates to the topic that is being discussed within the blog post. The views expressed on the site by non-federal commentators do not necessarily reflect the official views of the AF or the Federal Government.

To protect your own privacy and the privacy of others, please do not include personally identifiable information, such as name, Social Security number, DoD ID number, OSI Case number, phone numbers or email addresses in the body of your comment. If you do voluntarily include personally identifiable information in your comment, such as your name, that comment may or may not be posted on the page. If your comment is posted, your name will not be redacted or removed. In no circumstances will comments be posted that contain Social Security numbers, DoD ID numbers, OSI case numbers, addresses, email address or phone numbers. The default for the posting of comments is "anonymous", but if you opt not to, any information, including your login name, may be displayed on our site.

Thank you for taking the time to read this comment policy. We encourage your participation in our discussion and look forward to an active exchange of ideas.