Flying Jennies Prepare To Deploy

"Mission overview," said the Lieutenant Colonel, as he began a morning briefing prior to a training flight aboard the C-130J cargo plane.

Reservists with the "Flying Jennies" came ready to train at 0800.

"Looks like they're going to have a lightning watch," said the weather officer, pointing to the bright green and yellow spots on the radar screen.

A stubborn line of thunderstorms interrupted this mission. While steady rain peppered the flight line, reservists gave media visitors a dry-run-drill of preparing the C-130J.

The mission was supposed to involve flying to Hancock County for a cargo drop.

"Accomplish air drops over at the Stennis International Airport as if we were re-supplying some troops that needed, it could be fuel, ammunition, a resupply of some type," said Lt. Col. Tim Weiher.

Sgt. Michael Watson went through a pre-flight checklist. He says the C-130J is a real cargo "work horse" for the military. The aircraft is versatile, while its crew must be flexible.

"We can be rigged for maximum troops, land in an austere environment and find out we have to pull out three Humvees and a trailer. So, for the air crew that's reconfigure the airplane, load and get out in minimum ground time," Watson explained.

Using the C-130's for cargo drops in the war zone has proven to save lives on the ground. For more than a year now, the cargo planes have been used to supplement the dangerous task of delivering supplies by truck convoy on the ground.

"They were getting hurt by a lot of IEDs blowing up . And so what we're doing with the C-130 is we're air lifting all this cargo and supplies they need in theater and that way convoys don't have to travel the roads," said General Richard Moss, commander of the 403rd Air Wing.

The reservists and two cargo planes will be headed overseas in the next two weeks.