"Flying Jennies" Flying High In C-130Js

Stennis International Airport was transformed into an enemy zone Thursday night.

Without any lights from the building or the runway, night vision goggles were the only way you could see anything- including the newest C-130J.

"This is preparation. A tactical flight so we can prepare for going into combat over in the Middle East. W hat we're assuming is that the best course of action for us is to fly low level, under night vision goggles, dark, basically blacked out, so the enemy can't see us," said Major Keith Gibson.

These types of flight training missions are conducted almost on a weekly basis, and have been ever since Keesler began testing the new aircraft in 1999.

During times of war, the "flying jennies" enter into combat- dropping and loading everything from tanks to food and other supplies.

And they are definitely benefiting from the C-130J, which crew members believe is a step up from the former C-130.

"Reduced crew members. We're relying heavily on the computer aircraft to tell us where to drop and where to go. As far as our time status is concerned, we don't have a navigator anymore telling us, 'Hey speed up' or "Slow down' or 'Cut this corner.' Now we look at the computer and we have our head or behind status displayed to us at all times. None of the pilots that you'll talk to here had anything bad to say about the plane. It's a joy to fly. More power, more technology at our fingertips essentially," said Gibson.

The "Flying Jennies" operate under the 403rd Wing located at Keesler.