Hundreds of thousands people from all over the world gathered in line to see a C-130J Super Hercules from Ramstein Air Base, Germany, on display at the Africa Aerospace & Defence Expo here Sept. 20-21.
The nine-Airman crew from the C-130J was part of a total-force team of Guard, Reserve and active-duty Soldiers and Airmen. A C-17 Globemaster III crew from New York and an Army RQ-7B Shadow joined the C-130J at the show.
The Super Hercules crew made the two-day trip from Germany to explain the aircraft's capabilities and allow the nearly 350,000 visitors of the expo to see first-hand what the aircraft looks like up close and ask questions of the crew. There was so much public interest in the aircraft and crew, the line to view it extended about as far as the C-130 is long.
"We're here to showcase the aircraft for the trade show," said Senior Airman Nick McVittie, 37th Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "We explain what we do, where we are from and answer any questions they might have."
McVittie explained that their mission isn't just for the public's understanding of their capabilities, but the partnership with African nations that makes the trip worthwhile.
"It's very important for us to share experiences and knowledge with each other," he said. "Showing the capabilities of the C-130J to our African partners is a big deal -- the more familiar we all are with each other's aircraft the easier it will be for all of us to work together in the future.
However, when these Airmen aren't opening the ramp and doors to the public morning to evening, they are training or transporting.
"Normally we use the 'Herc' for air drops and passenger and cargo transport -- we can fly over marked landing zones and offload the troops in the back or the cargo," said Capt. Lindsey Kinsinger, 37th AS pilot. "This is an amazing machine. I love flying it because it is so functional and I'm able to employ its tactical-airlift capabilities at moment's notice."
In addition to training drops, C-130Js from Ramstein have been known to show up in other public events and real-world missions like Operation Market Garden, D-Day re-enactments, airfield-seizure exercises and it has even converted into a mobile emergency room for potential evacuations from hazardous areas.
"This is such a versatile machine," said Kinsinger. "Today we are doing the air show, but next week we could be working with another country's paratroopers, working together and them jumping out of the plane with our guys; you never know what the next week or even month holds."
The 37th AS is part of the 86th Airlift Wing, the host wing at Ramstein AB, Germany. Ramstein is assigned to U.S. Air Forces in Europe and is a North Atlantic Treaty Organization installation.
The mission of the 86th AW is to provide combat airlift and operate the Air Force's premier installation to enable and assure strategic capabilities.
For more photos of the event, visit Ramstein Jet Draws Crowds