The latest installment of the Grimm Trip Report references one of the flights my family took aboard a U.S. Air Force C-141 Starlifter. This warrants something of an explanation and a brief anecdote.
As you can gather from these reports, my father was stationed at a military base in Central Australia. Being the middle of nowhere and not being able to utilize commercial transport, the facility was supplied weekly by this cargo aircraft. As ‘perk’ of being stationed in Alice Springs, for a nominal fee my father and his dependents could hitch a ride to and from the Richmond Air Force Base outside of Sydney. I’d say over the years we probably took advantage of this opportunity maybe four or five times. It was definitely a no-frills adventure.
Thankfully, the plane was usually empty of passengers so we could use one of the two dozen or so actual airplane seats, though the seats did face the rear of the aircraft. All the other seating comprised of jump seats. The aircraft was not noise insulated whatsoever. We would be issued with earplugs when we got on, and eventually we took to using the over-ear hearing protection used on rifle ranges. Communication required shouting over the wind & engine noise or in writing so I suspect my parents got three relatively undisturbed hours when we flew on the MAC.
Obviously, there wasn’t much in the way of in-flight entertainment or snacks These flights pre-dated portable audio devices like the Walkman, though I do think we had a couple of hand-held video games. That said, the young Air Force officers always did their best to make us feel welcome. This extended once to letting me and my six-year old brother, “fly” the Starlifter. In hindsight, this was insane but I have to tell you it may be one of my favorite childhood memories. The pilots turned the controls over to us (it was on autopilot) and showed us how to waggle the wings of this massive cargo plane. Which we did.