Just a few days ago, Stavros did a great writeup on how conducting airborne operations in the Third World, with some of our partners and allies who aren’t very well trained, can be… interesting. Many of these soldiers had never even been around aircraft before joining the military, and most of those on their first jump were also making their first aircraft flight. 

But there were even times when conducting airborne operations of our own, using U.S. Air Force aircraft, things could get downright interesting — and we could even come into contact with aliens.

Many moons ago, our Special Forces A-Team in the 7th SFG(A) was getting ready to conduct a long UW exercise. Our team leader, a new Captain, had arranged to get us about a 60-man “guerrilla force” consisting of Army clerks and typists who we had as our own for about three weeks. 

Our O&I (operations and intel) sergeant used to be a Robin Sage instructor and had a ton of contacts out in the area where the students did their final exercise and they agreed to roleplay as our auxiliary. We even had a large farmer’s field, which was just getting ready to be plowed, for our drop zone. Some Air Force CCT buds surveyed the DZ and we were good to go. An MC-130 Combat Talon and a tailgate jump would be the way into our AO. 

We rigged up a door bundle and everyone packed their rucksacks with about 100 pounds of lightweight BS that we always carried. We waddled to the aircraft at about 2200 on the night of infill looking like the Michelin man. Our crew was going to do some flying nap-of-the-earth (NOE) once we got out to the area so that the Air Force crew would also get some training in. 

Flying NOE is something all SF guys have done numerous times but it always gets the blood flowing. For those of our readers who have never got to experience it, picture if you will (tip of the cap to Rod Serling), a roller coaster with no rails but going about 150 miles an hour faster than a regular one — and with four engines roaring. It is something that will hold your attention for sure. 

So we did about an hour of twisting, turning, gut-wrenching flying before the awesome pilots of the C-130 began to level off. We then went through our normal jump procedures and the tailgate was downed with the red glow of the interior lights bathing everything. The team was gathering near the tailgate, but our team sergeant was shaking his head. He couldn’t see the drop zone. We weren’t over the DZ — and remember this was a blind drop, there were no lights or panels on the DZ. 

We made a race track, then another, and after a few minutes, our legs felt like lead. One more try. The loadmaster from the aircraft was talking on the intercom with the pilots and then yelled in my ear, as I was the #1 jumper, “watch this!” We crossed over the top of a mountain and about 50 feet off the deck, we could see a farmhouse, with all the lights burning, and the owner at his pickup truck; we were that close to the ground. Then we were over the valley and straight ahead was the DZ.