PATRICK AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --
The 39th Rescue Squadron displayed their iron and rescue prowess at two prominent air shows in July: The Royal International Air Tattoo at Royal Air Force Fairford, United Kingdom, celebrating the Royal Air Force’s 100th Centennial and the EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, celebrating the “Year of the Tanker.”
“It was non-stop,” said Maj. Patrick Woodruff, HC-130N combat-rescue pilot, 39th Rescue Squadron. “Visitors were lined up all day to see the inside of our aircraft. We really enjoyed showing off our airplane and our amazing rescue mission to all the aviation enthusiasts, especially the kids who were really excited to see our plane up close”.
In all, 185,000 visitors and 302 aircraft from the air forces of 30 nations attended the Air Tattoo, while Oshkosh had more than 600,000 visitors and approximately 10,000 aircraft, however both air shows brought lots of visitors through the 39th’s aircraft.
Capt. Elizabeth Holloway, also an HC-130N pilot from the 39th RQS, attended both prominent air shows and was overwhelmed with number of people eager to talk about the aircraft and the squadron’s mission. “It was exhausting standing in the sun and talking to visitors all day, but totally worth it,” she said. “RIAT and Oshkosh – it was the same story. People waiting in line for an hour just to see the flight deck and talk to you for a few minutes.”
As part of the Air Force Reserve Command 70th anniversary, the 39th’s HC-130N was part of an impressive fleet of military refueling aircraft showcased at AirVenture’s “Year of the Tanker” themed airshow. In addition to the HC-130N, AFRC tankers included the KC-10 and KC-135 showcasing a unique display of the past, present and the future of tanker aircraft. The HC-130, however, is set apart from other tanker aircraft as its air-to-air refueling is only a small portion of the rescue capabilities it provides.
The 39th RQS, a part of 920th Rescue Wing, played a major role in two long-range 1,000-mile round trip rescues at sea in 2017 saving the lives of 3 people. The crew not only performed four air-to-air refuelings and delivered the guardian angel team to the rescue site, but acted as command and control to execute a perfectly planned rescue. The saves resulted in the wing being recognized with multiple awards to include the 10th Air Force Power & Vigilance Award, as well as The Jolly Green Association’s Rescue mission of year award.
“Our community is making a big push with many robust aircraft updates to allow the HC-130 to excel in the type of combat-search-and-rescue scenarios we could see in a 21st century fight,” Maj Woodruff said. “Flying our planes to these air shows is a great opportunity to share our knowledge and rescue experiences with the public who otherwise may have no idea what we do”.
“The 70th anniversary of the Air Force Reserve is a superb time to tell the story of our Citizen Airmen who provide a tremendous amount of operational experience to the Air Force mission and for aviation fans, there’s no better place to demonstrate that than Oshkosh,” said Lt. Gen. Maryanne Miller, Chief of Air Force Reserve, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington D.C., and commander of Air Force Reserve Command, Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. “Innovation is in our DNA, and it comes from the diverse experience our Reserve Citizen Airmen bring to the mission from various communities across the nation.