Aeromoe's
1997 South Pacific Adventure






Photos on this page taken by Aeromoe during the week of September 26 - October 4, 1997.



In the wee hours of the morning of September 26, 1997 I got a phone call from my boss at work. The question was brief, the answer was simple. "Moe, do you want to go to New Zealand? You need to be to work in an hour." My job, as a Supply Technician, was to accompany the "kit" of spare parts for the C-5B aircraft. Should the C-5 require replacement parts at any time during the mission I would provide that support.

And so began my South Pacific journey. I crawled out of bed, quickly showered and shaved, got dressed in a uniform, grabbed my "bug-out" bag and my camera bag, and headed out the door.

At work and now more awake, I only had to finalize my personal affairs to board the aircraft...the cargo loading had already occured. With the drawdown of Travis AFB C-141 fleet earlier in the 90s, Travis AFB had relinquished the so-called "Operation Deep Freeze" Antarctic resupply missions. These missions were critical in that they provided much-needed heavy-lift aerial support to scientists on our southern-most continent.

The reason Travis AFB was involved in this particular mission was simple: a large helicopter was being transported to Antarctica and the Lockheed C-5B Galaxy provided the necessary capability. I imagine there was probably other cargo being transported as well and during the course of the journey I learned a crew of scientists would also travel to Antarctica for rotation with existing inhabitants.

As I compose this page in the summer of 2012, I'm relying on memory more than anything to recall the nuances of the trip. The technical details concerning each flight are no problem - I've always kept reasonably good notes about my flights. As I am an avid aviation photographer, I took a lot of aircraft photos but not very many scenery photos.

What follows is a photo essay of my week-long journey.


Leg 1

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

26 Sep 97

C-5B
70034

Travis AFB
California

Hickam AFB
Hawaii

08:34
Local

10:51
Local

05:08

2435

1st time to Hawaii


I remember we were onboard the aircraft for at least a couple of hours prior to our early-morning departure. In my experience, travelling onboard a military transport is usually an exercise in "hurry up and wait". I'm not sure how many "Space-Available" passengers were onboard, but in my case I was on the manifest as a military member on duty so my seat was pretty much guaranteed. The rear portion of C-5 upper deck is fairly roomy and in most cases, contains 73 passenger seats. These seats are all located in a cabin behind the massive wing, above the main cargo compartment. The cabin is accessed via a modest internal ladder from the lower main cargo deck. Alternately, a very high mobile staircase can reach the external doorway from the ground. I've embarked/disembarked via both methods.

I recall there was a necessary repair before we could depart Travis...something to do with overseas navigation requirements between New Zealand and Antarctica. At this point I wasn't sure if I would be travelling to "the ice" or not... I was probably under the impression that I would be.

My notes show we departed Travis AFB at 0834hrs Local on runway 21R. Our C-5 was tail number 70034...a C-5 "B Model" allocated a serial number from Fiscal Year 1987 funds. It was constructed during the 2nd batch of C-5 production that produced 50 of the more advanced "B Model" C-5s. This was my 5th flight in a C-5B in the last 5 months. Since there are not many passenger windows in the upper deck with which to view the goings-on outside, I may have had to ask a crew member which runway we used.

I don't remember much about the flight to Hickam...maybe I was asleep most of the way. We touched down on runway 08L at Honolulu Int'l airport just shy of 1100am Local and taxied back to the ramp at Hickam AFB. We deplaned the C-5 and milled about the "AMC Terminal". I was able to see airliners taking off and landing in the distance but Hickam is quite removed from the civilian action so I couldn't get any photos.

For some reason we were required to claim our checked baggage. Mine never showed up. The only bag I had with me was my trusty camera bag, and all that had in it was camera gear and my travelling papers. Another curiosity I don't recall the specific reason for is the lateness of our departure to Pago Pago: 0355hrs the next morning. As such, I had some time to kill. At the time one of my Air Force buddies and his family was stationed at Hickam AFB. I managed to get in touch with Tobin and he came by the AMC terminal and picked me up. I got a tour of the base and was able to see some airliners courtesy of Tobin taking me around a couple of spots at the airport.

We ended up at Tobin's base quarters so I could meet his family and probably have some dinner. I remember this now but I was only reminded of it while researching negatives from the trip and I found the photo of them.

Hickam AFB /
Honolulu Airport

Hawaii ANG
KC-135R
Landing path at
Honolulu Airport






Leg 2

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

27 Sep 97

C-5B
70034

Hickam AFB
Hawaii

Pago Pago
American Samoa

03:55
Local

08:42
Local

05:48

2600

1st crossing of equator


The 2nd leg of our trip was to Pago Pago, American Samoa. After departing Honolulu in the wee hours of darkness Saturday morning we made my first crossing of the equator some hours into the flight. I cant remember if the crew announced this fact...probably not. We landed at Pago Pago for a scheduled refuelling stop, and we were on the ground for about 2 1/2 hours. As you can imagine, Pago Pago is a tropical island and the scenery is right off the set of "Gilligan's Island".

During the course of our stay, I was able to photograph three deHavilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otters: two of Samoa Air and a single unit from Polynesian Airlines.

Deplaning from C-5B
70034 at Pago Pago
Pago Pago Airport Sign
as seen from the ramp
Moe at Pago Pago
Two Twin Otters
Polynesian Twin Otter
5W-PAH
Samoa Air Twin Otter
N711AS
Polynesian Twin Otter
5W-PAH

Samoa Air Twin Otter
N28SP







Leg 3

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

27 Sep 97

C-5B
70034

Pago Pago
American Samoa

RAAF Richmond
NSW, Australia

11:24
Local

15:15
Local
28 Sep 97

06:51

2750

Outskirts of Sydney

The 3rd leg of our trip took us to the Australian continent. Why we "overshot" New Zealand by several hours and landed near Sydney is beyond me, although I'm not complaining. Before this trip, I'd never been anywhere south of the equator so any new destinations were fine by me.

I think I was able to see out one of the portholes and observe some of the cityscape around Sydney during our descent into RAAF Richmond - a Royal Australian Air Force transport base to the northwest of Sydney. At the time, RAAF Richmond was home to RAAF 707 and C-130 transports so it was perfectly capable of handling our C-5B.

During the course of our flight from Pago Pago we crossed the International Date Line so we jumped ahead to Sunday, September 28th. We landed at 3:15pm and as I recall we had to way a couple of hours in the terminal before taxis were available to take us to a local hotel for our overnight stay. I was chomping at the bit to visit Sydney Airport and daylight was rapidly fading. The reason for the long delay at the air base was some silly sporting event had basically shut down the community and everybody was concerned about the game...pudknockers.

In the end, we made it to a local hotel in Windsor, New South Wales, not too far from RAAF Richmond. I sussed out how to get to the airport via train and bus and managed to safely get there during the early evening. I have vague recollections of the journey but no photographs of either the trains or the airport. I did enjoy a couple hours of plane watching from the domestic terminal at Sydney, and I was happy to see Qantas A300B4s, 737s, and various other domestic airliners of the period.

I managed to get back to the hotel and get some sleep before an early rise to make the flight to Christchurch, New Zealand Monday morning. The only photograph I snapped in Australia was this photo in Windsor, NSW during the ride to the air base. In July 2012 I used Google Earth to determine the exact location this photograph was taken.

Windsor
New South Wales

My ONLY photo from OZ
Windsor
New South Wales

Google Earth Street View







Leg 4

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

29 Sep 97

C-5B
70034

RAAF Richmond
NSW, Australia

Christchurch
New Zealand

10:19
Local

15:16
Local

02:57

1355

1st time in New Zealand

Leg 4 of this trip was the shortest duration of the trip. New Zealand is located east of Australia, across the Tasman Sea. Our destination of Christchurch is located on the South Island, roughly 1350 miles east of Sydney. Christchurch International Airport is home to the International Antarctic Centre and would be our base of operations for the coming week.

Thankfully, CHC (airport code for Christchurch) had a US Naval Exchange store so I was able to stock up on some supplies that went missing with my duffle bag that never showed up at Honolulu. Despite the fact I'd been able to shower at the hotel in Australia, I was still wearing the same clothes I'd put on at the beginning of the whole journey. I was also able to purchase some Kodak slide flim (Ektachrome, not Kodachrome) for my second camera body.

The hotel we stayed at was not terribly far from CHC, and I remember I even walked home from work on at least one occasion. Because there was already a USAF presence from McChord AFB, Washington at CHC, I was able to work the night shift while the TSgt from McChord worked the day shift. This worked out very nicely as after work I was able to walk over to the airport terminal and watch planes for several hours each day. CHC has a very nice open-air observation deck atop the terminal building and the photography was top-notch. The weather most of the week was cloudy but on the Thursday it cleared up nicely. To the west, I could see part of the snow-covered "Southern Alps" mountain range in the distance.

During the mid 1990s I'd become interested in astronomy. I was aware there were "treasures" to be seen in these southern-hemisphere skies but I dont have any observation notes from the trip. It is evident we had cloudy days most of the time, and maybe this equated to cloudy nights when I would have been on duty at the airport and theoretically able to view the night sky. As I type this in July 2012, I've not ventured back to the southern hemisphere, but I'd definitely like to pursue such a trip.

Early on after our arrival, it became clear I would not be travelling with the C-5 to Antarctica. I'm sure I was somewhat disappointed with not being able to visit the most isolated continent of earth, but apparently there wasn't enough cold weather gear aboard the C-5 to accomodate me. In the end, I was happy to watch and photograph 70034 depart on mission "Ice 03" in the morning sunshine. This occured on Thursday October 2nd, and the plane arrived back in Christchurch sometime that night or early the next morning...I don't have any notes on the arrival.

Friday October 3rd we prepared for departure. We loaded the "kit" back onto the C-5 and a little after 6:30pm we departed Christchurch on the single longest leg of this trip: to Andersen AFB, Guam.

Christchurch Airport
Antarctic Center
Christchurch Airport
Ramp at CHC
70034 at CHC
RNZAF 727-100
RNZAF 727-100
Air New Zealand
Mainline and commuters
"Links" and a "heavy"
QANTAS 767-300
QANTAS 747-400
Air New Zealand
737-200
Ansett New Zealand
DHC-8
Ansett New Zealand
BAe 146-200QC
Ansett New Zealand
BAe 146-300
Air New Zealand Link
Metroliner
Air New Zealand Link
Metroliner
Callsign "Ice 03" rolling
on CHC runway 02
Callsign "Ice 03" airborne
for Antarctica
Kiwi Tug
Mini Cooper
Cessna
Cessna
Piper
NAC
Viscount
NAC
Viscount
NAC
Viscount
Cool sign on
a hangar door
Cessna

Air Safaris
GAF Nomad
Moe on CHC ramp
ANZ boarding stairs
tells it all...







Leg 5

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

3 Oct 97

C-5B
70034

Christchurch
New Zealand

Andersen AFB
Guam

18:34
Local

02:21
Local
4 Oct 97

09:47

4297

1st time on Guam

The 5th leg of this trip turned out to be our longest: Christchurch to Andersen AFB, Guam. Guam is an unincorporated territory of the United States has been strategically important to the United States for over 100 years. After nearly 10-hours in the air, we touched down on Guam in the middle of the night. We'd covered nearly 57 degrees of latitude (or almost 1/3 a hemisphere) in a northerly direction, roughly similar to a trip from La Paz, Bolivia to New York City.

Because we'd be staying on Guam the whole day, we got rooms in the base "billeting" (motel). This was fine, but I was interested in seeing the island after daybreak. I may have caught a nap, or I may have been rested enough from the flight...I don't know. I do know I was at the base rental-car agency when they opened and before long, I was driving along slippery coral roads in a rental car. I sorted out finding the main international airport and took a few photos of Northwest and Continental planes. At some point during the day, a rain storm hit the island but it didn't last too long. At the time I was on a windy little windy heading down to a base beach but because of the rain, I didn't stay there very long. I seem to remember some folks were on the beach having a BBQ.

Interestingly, it appears Guam is the one location I managed to take the most "non-aviation" photos. I'm just as likely as the next guy to snap photos of clouds and sunsets, so I do have some record of the island scenery. I remember visiting the base commissary (grocery store) for a snack and getting the rental car turned in. Not sure if I went back to the billeting room for a nap or not, but we were back onboard 70034 and headed for Hickam AFB, Hawaii by a little after 9pm. More importantly, we were finally heading east.

Guam scenery
Northwest 747
Continental Micronesia
747
Continental
757-224
Northwest DC-10-30
Andersen AFB
Front Gate
Heading to the beach
during a rain storm
Sunset
Crepescular Rays
Andersen AFB
Guam
C-5B 70034
Andersen AFB
Guam





Leg 6

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

4 Oct 97

C-5B
70034

Andersen AFB
Guam

Hickam AFB
Hawaii

21:18
Local

08:54
Local
4 Oct 97

07:37

3790

Gained the 4th of October
again by crossing the Date Line

The 6th and penultimate leg of this trip was the 2nd longest flight: just over 7 1/2 hours and nearly 3800 miles. We set down at Honolulu International Airport in mid-morning and since we'd crossed the International Date Line again, we regained the 4th of October. After deplaning, I inquired in the passenger terminal about my missing luggage, and wouldn't ya know it, they had it safely stashed away for me.

At some point I contacted my buddy Tobin again. Since it was a Saturday, he was off duty and able to meet up with me again. He took me 'round the airport and dropped me off near the terminal so I could do some photograhy. He also took me to a spot near the taxiway to the reef runway and I did some photography there as well.

Back at the AMC terminal, I was informed our C-5 was broken and we wouldn't be departing right away. I don't remember the situation but I ended up spending the night with Tobin and his family... saving the modest cost of a billeting room or hotel for the night. During the evening, I do remember we went to the Naval Exchange at Pearl Harbor and did a little shopping.

After a reasonable night's sleep, Tobin dutifully carted me back over to the AMC terminal and dropped me off for my flight to Travis. Thanks for your hospitality Tobin!

Continental Mircronesia
747-200
American
DC-10-10
Sun Country
DC-10-15
Hawaiian Air
DC-10-10
Hawaii ANG
KC-135R
Hawaiian Air
DC-9-51
Aloha
737-200
United
747-100
Garuda
MD-11
JAL
747-300
TWA
747-100
Hawaiian Air
DC-10-10
American
DC-10-30
Nothing but
Tri-Jets
Hawaii ANG
F-15
USAF
C-141B
United
747-100
All Nippon
747-200
Delta
L-1011-1
ATA
L-1011
Mandarin
747SP
JAL
747-100
JAL
747-200
World Airways
MD-11F
Hawaiian Air
DC-9-51
Aloha Island Air
Twin Otter
Aloha
737-200
Aloha
737-200




Leg 7

Date

Aircraft

From

To

T/O

Land

Flight Time

Miles

Remarks

5 Oct 97

C-5B
40062

Hickam AFB
Hawaii

Travis AFB
California

09:34
Local

17:22
Local

04:48

2435

Flew home on different C-5B
due to 70034 being broken

The final leg of this journey started out on Sunday morning. 70034 was still broken but another Travis C-5B was available to take me home. I don't remember how many of the original folks I was travelling with stayed behind or flew with me, but I was forced to leave the "kit" behind with 70034...I was assured it would be O.K.

We took off at 9:34am and after flying almost 5 hours, we touched down at Travis AFB at 5:22pm Sunday afternoon. I was glad to be home...the boss was a little perturbed I'd left the "kit" back at Hickam but she eventually got over it...and we eventually got the kit back.

And so ends my South Pacific Adventure. This was not my first trip aboard a C-5 nor would it be my last. Two more TDY's involving C-5s would come my way during the next 6 months.

Here are some numbers to quantify this trip:

-Seven flights in Lockheed C-5B Galaxy aircraft
-Five new airports (six when you count visiting Sydney)
-Four new islands visited
-One new continent (Australia)
-Almost 20,000 miles of flying
-2,576 minutes (nearly 43 hours) airborne