We departed McGuire on the 24th. You can read that post. But on that trip we ended up in Chateauroux and when we left, we flew to Incirlik, Turkey. As we got ready to leave Incirlik, we discovered that the starter for our #3 engine would not function. I decided to go out on the runway and taxi down the runway, spinning the prop on the engine that wouldn’t start normally and start it on the runway.
Our first stop out of Incirlik was Beirut, just across the Mediteranean. Well, we dropped off our cargo and loaded what they had for us and then we started three engines and taxied to the runway. Take a look at the Beirut airport. notice how the runway goes right out over the Med.
We got to the runway and got cleared for takeoff. We started rolling down the runway and we started the engine on the roll. The tower operator said: “I think one of your engines is not running.” My co-pilot said: “Keep looking.”
The engine started properly, I brought it up to full power and we made an uneventful takeoff. I did not have any problem with this maneuver because the C-130 had lots of power and we could have lifted off the ground with just three engines.
From Beirut, we went to Jedda, in Saudi Arabia. Later on, when I flew for Pan Am, I went up to Afghanistan and flew for Ariana Airlines. Pan Am owned 51% of Ariana Airlines. We flew an old 707 airplane and went to Jedda from Kandahar. We carried people into the Haj. If you want to read about Saudi Arabia I recommend: VISION or MIRAGE by David Rundell.
At any rate, we started our third engine by a run on the runway and then taxied back for takeoff, at Jedda. Our next stop was Asmara, Eritria. We spent the night there. This is 2500 meters high, too high for bigger planes.
I always liked the Eritreans I met and liked the layover there. Naturally, we started the 3rd engine on the runway and taxied back for our takeoff. And we went to Addis Ababa, in Ethiopia. We started #3 and taxied back for takeoff.
From Addis we flew to Cairo, Egypt. Here was the perfect opportunity to tell the US Airforce that we had a bad starter and NEEDED to have one sent to us. That guaranteed that we could have a layover in Cairo. During this time, under General Nasser”s leadership it was hard to get a layover there. It took about FIVE hours for the woman who we were working with to get us cleared into Cairo for our layover. Read about Nasser:
We went to our hotel and then we grabbed a taxi and headed for the pyramids and the Sphinx. I don’t remember his name, but my copilot was from Pennsylvania. On the taxi ride out into the desert, he was afraid we were being kidnaped. When we got out to the pyramids and standing in front of the Sphinx, he looked at the pyramids and said: “We have slag piles bigger than them where I grew up.”
There was a restaurant out out there and it’s entertainment was ending because it was getting late and the tourists were leaving. But we walked in and they had us sit at a big table. We told them they could let the orchestra leave, we didn’t need them for our dinner. They refused and kept them there and they played for us, as we ate the pile of lamb and goat chops that they provided.
The next morning, my friend Tom Stringer, my navigator, and that copilot went to the Cairo museum, but as aircraft commander, I went to the airport with the mechanic who installed the new starter. You see, the Air Force had rules that you were not allowed to make running starts on engines. We, as Navy pilots, didn’t pay too much attention to those rules, unless we were in Cairo.
From Cairo we started a run through Beirut and Incirlik to Chateauroux and got there on the 30th. We left for Wheelus on 2 November.