The rest of the year finished quietly with no major trips.
The Brothers of Flight did fly out to Phoenix and Havasu. They brought back Jam Henderson who stayed with Uncle Jim and his wives. They seemed to get along really well. A few weeks later, he married into the family making them a foursome. They seemed to be very happy. My sister in-law, Jen, likes her new father. I asked him to write the story of the journey of the Salt Lakers. He agreed reluctantly. He said that it wasn't a happy story though he also understood that it should be part of our history.
I decided not to push him. When or even if he finishes it, I will include it in this journal. He seems to be happy with Jim and his wives. He also seems close to Robby. I spoke to Robby and he said that they understood each other and losses before and after the Day. I didn't bug Robby any more either. That story had been written and I cried for my three spouses every time I thought of our missing spouse who I would never meet.
When we had returned, I resumed teaching my classes. My three oldest children and the Harold's two all were successful graduates of my school of hard knocking along with a number of other men and women. Preservation was, on the whole, a polite society. However, knowing that any female, even young, could put you on your butt painfully did help keep those with attitudes under control.
An older boy had begun to torment some of the younger kids, particularly the girls. SJ caught him at it and slapped him hard. He made the mistake of coming at her. Since he was almost a foot taller and twice her weight, she wasn't gentle. If he got hold of her, he might have hurt her. He didn't. She threw him and he landed hard with a broken arm from his landing. She suggested that he or his friends were welcome to try again but, next time, she wouldn't be so gentle. There were no more problems.
His father came calling but backed off when he found out she was my daughter. I told him that my children had my permission to beat bullies into the ground. I continued to tell him that he could have his son learn and take his lumps or he, the father, could try to take me on. I wouldn't let him leave and mutter but made him commit by getting in his face. His family left the area right after Thanksgiving. Poppa Jack had them followed, making sure that people knew why they were moving. He kept going on into the Carolinas.
Christmas was another big event in the family and an excuse for many to get together to celebrate. We met at Poppa and Momma's house and it hasn't grown less crowded. Jam added one more there. Mary and her husband, Isaac, came from Talladega. The four Harold's came so our oldest two would not be disappointed.
Spring was coming and Andy and Charlie would reach the age of consent! Andy was even more beautiful and Charlie was a tall, muscular, and handsome young man. Their birthdays passed. Not only they didn't marry, but they were making no imminent plans! I caught them with just the three of us and said, "Okay, what gives?"
Andy looked at Charlie and then said, "It's my fault. I know I'm old enough and that Charlie and I are deeply in love but I want a little more time before we marry and have to get serious about living together for the rest of our lives."
Charlie said, "I watched Jen and Mike before I even knew Andy. We will marry as soon as the time is right. I'm working on a few things with my Dads that should be done first. In the meantime, we are together almost all the time anyway."
Andy said, "Don't worry, mom. Mothers of the groom don't have anything to do anyway." They grinned at me. I let it go. I sure wasn't going to force them to marry! I'm not sure I could anyway. I just felt that I hadn't heard the entire story.
Europe is on Poppa's list though he understands that his "intrepid explorers" aren't anxious to embark on another trip immediately. We have talked to the Brothers of Flight about a trip like that because it could be a long leap for the Twin Otters. It will take much more planning and thought and, probably, different planes. We would be almost out of touch even for communication. Getting help would be a lost cause. Knowing that makes planning more important.
Poppa was talking very seriously about making the trip and that brought another small group of challenges including timing because he was still the director of Preservation. He had learned to fly but still took Andy and Charlie with him on his flights. I think he enjoyed their company and he knew that Momma and I were more comfortable with them along. Momma had even come to me for flight lessons. She was already a top graduate of my self-defense classes. More than anything else, that told me that Poppa was serious about retiring as director and traveling. They never did anything of major importance separately!
SJ, Bobbi, and Jacob were moving up the airplane ladder from the single engine Cessna's to any of the larger multi-engined planes. When they weren't taking classes, they were looking for an excuse to go flying any kind of plane anywhere. Bobbi and Jacob wanted to fly but SJ wanted to know everything about them and how they operated and how they could be operated.
Of the three, she might be the better pilot and certainly understood the abilities of a plane as well as the Brothers of Flight. She was only eleven but was a big, tall girl who was just growing into her height and strength. She the first one born after Bennie and I joined the marriage and, from her size, might well be born of Bennie with Mel. She was going to be beautiful, just tall and would fit her size. I had the feeling that it would take a physically big and mentally agile man to capture her heart at some point.
On a trip to Protection, my spouses and I made it a point to talk to the Brothers of Flight about planes for a trip to Europe in more detail. They wanted to come to Preservation when we returned and go to Marietta. That was where the C-130J was built and it was their suggestion for our longer trips.
We agreed to work up some living quarters that would be convenient to the Marietta location of Lockheed-Martin. We hadn't been there in years. Armed forces bases had helpful things but didn't offer as much as some other places for everyday living. Over the years, we had all fought and used equipment from various bases but the fighting was a minor, though not unimportant, issue in everyday living.
When we returned, we took the family and the Harold's up to Marietta to find some place to live and operate for our group. We brought a diesel generator with us but had no idea what we would find. People didn't live in the cities because farming was important. Our communities weren't big enough for much trade to allow specialization. Even Bennie's dad and his partner in the machine shop had large, active truck gardens.
We had flown up in King and flew back that way. Charlie was piloting with Andy as his copilot. I went forward and told them that I wanted to check out the air base in Marietta. They grinned and Andy gave Charlie a new heading. We flew over Dobbins and found the field in good shape. Andy called back to me, "Momma Janice, it's good. Why don't we land?"
We did. Charlie set us down gently and let King lose speed slowly. We expected no people and received no surprise. Preservation had moved up to the north this far but no one was trying to live in the metropolitan area because most wanted to farm. Cities and land with lots of houses were not desirable because of the work needed to get such an area ready for use.
We taxied toward to operations area. We quickly realized that a military air base was different from a civilian air field. We had radioed the Brothers of Flight. They took off in their C-130 and would follow us in and did. Charlie gave Vic the wind direction and estimated speed and, in less than ten minutes, his big bird flared in for a gentle touchdown. He pulled it over close to us and powered his engines down. He also lowered the rear ramp to show us a surprise.
Tom rolled out with the first four-wheeler. Their wives followed on one each with Vic bringing a fourth. By then, Bobbi and Jacob had reached the back of the big plane. They were directed inside to bring two more!
We all took turns riding around the base on the four-wheelers. I have to admit that Pam, Mel, and I took our turns, too. It was fun. We finally quit playing and found a room that could be powered and cooled by the generator on a trailer that Tom and Vic also brought. I was impressed. I had read the specs but it looked like a lot came out of that plane!
We sat down in the air that was rapidly being cooled for the first time in almost twenty years. With power, everything there was working. We gathered in the ready room and Tom and Vic explained what they had in mind. Tom's wife, Elaine, had prepared a briefing for us with handouts.
New Plane for Protection/Preservation Use
C-130J-30 Super Hercules
Crew: 3 (two pilots, and one loadmaster are minimum crew)
Capacity: 128 passengers or 8 pallets or 97 litter patients with 2 medical personnel or 2–3 Humvee's, or an M113 armored personnel carrier
Payload: 44,000 lb
Size: Length: 112 ft 9 in; Wingspan: 132 ft 7 in; Height: 38 ft 10 in; Wing area: 1,745 sq ft.
Empty weight: 75,562 lb
Useful load: 72,000 lb
Maximum takeoff weight: up to 175,000 lb; normal 155,000 lb
Power plant: 4 × Rolls-Royce AE 2100D3 turboprop, 4,637 hp each with Dowty R391 6-blade composite propellers
Performance: Maximum speed: 417 mph; Cruise speed: 400 mph
Range: 3,262 mi
Service ceiling: 28,000 ft with 42,000 pounds payload
Absolute altitude 40,386 ft
Takeoff distance: 3,127 ft at 155,000 lb gross weight
In the military, the C-130J-30 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for airdropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
Using its aft loading ramp and door, the C-130J-30 can accommodate a wide variety of oversized cargo, including everything from utility helicopters and six-wheeled armored vehicles to standard palletized cargo and military personnel. In an aerial delivery role, it can airdrop loads up to 42,000 pounds or use its high-flotation landing gear to land and deliver cargo on rough, dirt strips.
This is a big airplane capable of carrying an expedition to any place on earth and landing safely under adverse conditions with equipment for the expedition. Two airplanes of this type can go almost anywhere at a good rate of speed carrying equipment to accomplish most any reasonable purpose.
It is our plan to upgrade the main planes in the current fleet to these.
The briefing was breath-taking. We could see that Tom and Vic had given the proposed trip considerable thought and had made other decisions for the allied communities. The more I thought about it, the more I liked it. We could carry our own vehicles, fuel, food, generators, and everything else we would want. I thought about relative weights and decided that, even with what we would think of as a big load, the planes would still not be close to their maximum weight. It would give a whole new look to planning with more speed and range. They didn't need much runway either. I had noticed that Vic and Tom had landed in very little area.
I looked at my spouses and grinned. With two planes, we had a lot of ability and flexibility plus capacity. This would be really cool. I raised my hand. "Vic, Tom, when do we start our lessons?" I saw Bobbi and Charlie high five smiling.
Vic said, "Very soon. Tom and I have been flying an older model. The J is the newest model made and the '30' is for the stretch version. The main question for today is how many are here that are finished and then we will look through the records to find the others. It was a new plane for the series."
Everyone grinned. He continued. "We brought the four-wheelers to demonstrate capacity and to give us a way to get around. This is a big place. However, I expect we will be flying the 'Herc's' in about a month."
I said, "That sounds great. Family, we will have to come up with a new name. No more 'Kings.' These are too big a jump."
Everyone agreed that "King" had outlived its usefulness as a name for airplanes. The smaller ones started to brainstorm while my three oldest with Andy and Jacob went with us to check out available planes. This place was a goldmine for planes. If we were inclined toward jets, it was even better. We found five C-130J's in great shape along with a few in various stages of being built. We were walking back outside when my earphone sounded, "Janice, are you down there? This is the old man in the moon calling."
A number of us had headsets and laughed. I said, "This is Janice, Poppa. There is plenty of runway. The wind is light from the north. King is parked next to the Brothers of Flight's plane. Please join us."
He brought the Cessna in for a gentle landing and taxied over to us.