The Rivrsis, dear to my heart, remembered that I did some "trash hauling", navigating C-141s during the Reserve part of my commissioned military career (1978-1979), so she sent me this link from the DailyKos, a leftoid Internet 'Zine which I usually avoid. For some reason, I read the article, and it was pretty good. The article is a compilation of jet-era Trash Haulers, with some commentary, written by a former USAF trash-hauling pilot. There is interesting comparison in the article between military and civilian trash hauling.
I read through, especially interested by the author's commentary on the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy, or "FRED", aka "aluminum overcast", aka "national aluminum scrap repository". His negative commentary fits history, though, and it did jog my memory, so here goes:
I was stationed TDY at Andersen AFB, Guam in 1970, navigating B-52s, when the first operational C-5 flew in, supposedly on a demonstration mission. It had 70 Lockheed engineers and techs on board, but was flown by a USAF (test) aircrew. Most of the plane's vast cargo room was taken up by it's own spare parts. As soon as they shut down the engines, it was announced that the next leg of it's "combat zone tour" had been postponed, so it's 17 pallets of actual cargo were moved to 2 C-141s for delivery to the forward area. The mission cancellation was due to an engine problem, we learned form our Command Post. I was standing SAC nuclear alert (counter-Kimmy mission) and we were out on the flightline, returning from maintenance on our nuke-loaded bomber while the techs were trying to fix the bad engine in the C-5 (turned out they couldn't, but they had a spare on board, so they installed that). Now, Andersen AFB WAS a SAC B-52 base, so military protocol demanded that visiting outfits display courtesy. We stopped our Alert vehicle by the C-5 and I sidled up to the C-5 Loadmaster and asked him if he could demonstrate the Kneeling Drive, a hyper-complex system that lowers the aircraft on it's landing gear about 3 feet closer to the tarmac to make for less-steep ramp angles in loading/unloading oversize cargo. He said sure, and fired up the on-board Auxiliary Power Unit to power up the (notoriously, it's mentioned in the article) unreliable hydraulic system. He kneeled the aircraft, but when he tried to get it back up from kneeling level, the hydraulic system broke. He got on the radio to call the mission commander, and I heard him say, "Yes sir. Well I was demonstrating kneeling for some bomber guy who wanted to see it work." That aircraft was still there two weeks later, and the Lockheed and Airlift Command people were probably still blaming the "bomber guy" (me) for ruining their "combat demonstration mission". The truth, of course, was that the C-5 was NOT mission-ready, but clauses in the delivery contract called for a demonstration mission, so they did one. We heard through the grapevine later that the failed mission had caused HUGE problems for Lockheed back in the US of A.
This was probably the second biggest impact I had on the Vietnam War. The biggest was, as you might surmise, another aircraft maintenance FUBAR, but one which might have ended the war before it actually WAS ended. I have to think twice about relating it though, because it would trample on some 4-star toes. I don't think the story has ever been told publicly before. Some other day on THAT war story.