Friday, June 27, 2014

In the belly of a C-17

Years ago, Tim and I were living in Germany when Addison was born. A few weeks later, my little sister was graduating from high school.

That's when I got one of my hair brained ideas. Tim wasn't able to take leave long enough to travel back to the states, but that didn't necessarily mean that I couldn't go home for her graduation. I didn't see any good reason why I couldn't manage to take a six-week-old baby on an international trip all by myself.

The military operated several commercial flights that flew between Germany and the United States a few times per week. If there was room after all of the official passengers were assigned seats, other military members and dependents could fly space-available in one of the extra seats for a minimal cost. I traveled to the Air Base near Frankfurt (about an hour away) twice in an attempt to get seats on a flight heading to Atlanta. No luck.

Some friends then found out that there were C-17s flying from our base to the one in Charleston, SC several times a week. It was worth a shot.

Flying in a C-17 isn't exactly like flying in a commercial airliner. A C-17 is designed to carry cargo, but it also has passenger capabilities, such as they are.

The inside of the cargo compartment (or belly) of a C-17:

If you look closely along the two sides of the plane's cargo area, you can see black fabric seats that will fold down. For our flight there was a single line of cargo pallets (mainly our suitcases) in the middle of the cargo hold and passengers were all along the sides facing inward. The seats aren't as comfortable as airline seats, but we had more leg room than anyone could ever ask for. 

The cargo compartment is pressurized, but isn't heated. I wore winter clothes and bundled Addison up in a snow suit and several blankets. Both of us also wore ear plugs to protect us from the engine noise.

My crazy idea turned out to be quite an experience. When the plane reached cruising altitude (and the captain turned of the fasten seat belts indicators), many of the people around me stretched out on the floor with blankets. I put my head on Addison's carseat, hoping that I'd hear her if she cried, and stretched out across a couple of now-empty seats to catch a nap. Addison napped for practically all of the ten hour flight. I guess it wasn't such a bad way to fly across the Atlantic after all.

Our flight landed in Charleston, SC around midnight (6 am Germany time), and my dad drove me home to south Georgia the next day. You should've seen the look on my sister's face when she came home from school and found me (and her new niece) sitting at the kitchen table.

Addison meeting Aunt Caryn

Ben and MeI'm sharing a "years ago" story corresponding to each letter of the alphabet for the Blogging through the Alphabet challenge hosted by Marcy at Ben and Me. I often tell my children stories of things that have happened in our past, and now I'm taking the time to write down those stories.

©2009-2014 Through the Calm and Through the Storm. All rights reserved. Photos and content may not be reproduced.


  1. I absolutely loved reading this. What an experience! Thanks for sharing.



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...