A Project of the Coast Guard Aviation Association

Mid Air Repairs

In 76, I reenlisted in Kodiak and then helped open Clearwater Air Station. Around that time, I was on a C-130B flying over the Gulf of Mexico, heading West to a search area. The drop masters heard a banging on the left, rear, and upper fuselage. We concluded that the left long wire antenna had broken loose from the vertical stabilizer. We were worried that mounting hardware might still be attached to the wire and beat holes in the skin. That happened in Kodiak.

The flight engineer, I believe it was ADCM Lonnie White, suggested that a crewman go out the rear escape hatch, left of the vertical stabilizer, and try to grab the antenna and tie it down. I volunteered to give it a try. The pilots put down 50% flaps and slowed the Herc to 130 Kts. I put on a gunner’s belt, removed the hatch, and started to test the wind. When I saw I could hold my whole arm against the slip stream I put on goggles and slowly stood up in the hatch. There was a step on the cargo door under the hatch. The hatch ring came to my mid chest.

The antenna was beyond my reach but I could see that no hardware was attached to it and the insulation was stretching over the bare wire. All it was doing was marring the paint. It’s a good thing I couldn’t reach that cable or it would have whipped me to pieces.

Since I couldn’t fix the antenna I took a moment to enjoy the scenery. We were at 5,000 feet, bright blue sky, deep blue sea, white fluffy clouds all around slowly building above our altitude. Wings were bent in a shallow arc with four big turboprops pounding through the air. It was an awesome sight.

I closed up and reported to the pilots that the antenna was not a problem.

Rick Brenden
AM-1, DM, LM, FE