BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - The "Flying Jennies" at Keesler Air Force Base are getting set for another combat deployment. Members of the 815th Airlift Squadron will be returning to Southwest Asia early next month.
Reservists spent the day Thursday on a tactical training mission, testing the combat capabilities of the C-130-J aircraft. It is a proven "work horse" for the U.S. military. This latest version of the C-130 is designed to transport cargo or troops anywhere in the world.
"Flies super fast, super high and drops a variety of equipment and personnel. Basically transports anything you need," reservist pilot David Perez said.
"We are definitely a lot more powerful than the Legacy C-130s. With the new engines we can cruise pretty much 10,000 feet higher than the older C-130s and travel up to 50 knots faster," said the pilot.
Our training mission involves trailing another C-130-J, then practicing various maneuvers while doing some low level flying along the coast.
Coast residents know all about these "low flying" C-130s, but do you know the reason for the low altitude? In a combat situation, low level flying is often preferred, catching the enemy off guard.
"So, if you come in at a low altitude it really removes the ability for the enemy to really track you or even get a good shot at you," said Travis Bealmer.
Major Bealmer said all the advanced technology onboard makes it a pleasure to fly the C-130-J. He calls this versatile cargo plane the "U-Haul of the Sky."
"We can carry anything the user wants to put on the airplane. We can put down seats. We can remove the seats, carry cargo, whether it's flat loaded or rolling cargo with wheels," Bealmer said.
The C-130-J was first deployed in a combat situation five years ago and has since proven its worth, flying many missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and other countries.
"We always get good reviews. The commanders over there in theater like it. It's a good performer and I think the military has been very happy with it," Bealmer said.
"It's an honor to be able to serve the country and fly this particular aircraft," Perez said.
The C-130-J also has impressive landing capabilities. In combat situations, it can land on a dirt or gravel airstrip only 2,000 feet long.