This year as part of my wife’s military service, I got a special treat. Along with some other military spouses I had the opportunity to participate in a short flight on one of the C-130 aircraft at Peterson Air Force Base. After being verified on the manifest, we headed onto the flight line and boarded via the aft loading ramp. We were briefed on board with some safety instructions and given Emergency Passenger Oxygen Systems which were not particularly important as we were only flying at 13,000 feet. What could have been important were the motion sickness bags.
Take off was similar to commercial air travel aside from sitting parallel rather than perpendicular to the fuselage. The ride itself was kind of bumpy. As opposed to commercial air travel the aircraft was not pressurized and it never reached the cruising altitude that commercial aircraft reach.
Once we were airborne, the pilot did open up the aft loading ramp briefly to the delight of all the spouses. It is quite the view to see the mountains from the belly of a military aircraft. After closing the aft loading ramp, we were allowed to rotate through the cockpit as well as look out the rear exit doors.
Given the opportunity, I think I would prefer a private jet to a C-130, but it was a really great experience. I could not imagine being cooped up in the cargo hold for a cross country or international flight. However the pilot and loadmasters were very professional. They even took time to answer questions and make sure everybody had a fun flight.