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An Alert Loadmaster Saves the Day

David Millican

One of my friends in the 14th MAS related this story that had happened a couple of years before I showed up in 1973.

He was in Danang and had off-loaded and was picking up a back-haul of some Marine artillery ammo that was being repositioned to Okinawa. When he showed up at the aircraft after filing the flight plan the Load pulled him aside and said, "Sir, we have a problem here."

"What would that be?", queried the pilot.

The Load said "We have a probable overloaded aircraft, and these aerial port assholes won't listen to me."

"How do you know the plane is overloaded?", the pilot asked.

The Load responded, "Step back away from the plane and look at the struts."

My friend did and right away he could easily see that the plane was "squatting" way down on the struts---a real "low-rider". He told the Load he'd take care of it, and after being told by various locals that there was no problem, that the struts just needed servicing, etc, etc, he insisted that they re-weigh the cargo.

After some bitching and complaining, they did eventually re-weigh the cargo and it turns out the cargo weighed over 100,000 lbs.

In all probability the alert Loadmaster saved both the crew and plane.

On September 5th, 2006, I got the following additional notes from Gail Meyer, who was one of the engineer's on this aircraft involved in the incident noted above.

Just a little addition and correction to David Millican's story.

I arrived at Norton a little ahead of Dave in December of 1970, and did fly some good trips with him in the 14th MAS after he arrived. It was my third over-water trip as a second engineer in early 1971. My instructor was L.L. Johnson and the other engineer was Tony Grant and the Loadmaster was named Bonaface. I used to know the pilots name, but I forgot.

We were taking expired twenty millimeter ammunition back to Kadena from Ubon or Udorn. I was doing my thru-flight walk-around when I noticed the nose tires looked like radials. I did forget to check the nose strut, but I went and got my instructor and showed him. He checked the nose strut and then went to inform the loadmaster.

The loading crew already had three pallets on the aircraft. They were marked under five thousand pounds. Just then the forklift driver came driving up with another pallet. When he turned a corner the forklift came off the rear wheels. The driver had to get out of the seat and jump on the rear of the forklift to get it to go down.

The loadmaster asked him how much it weighed and he stated what it said on the pallet. The loadmaster made him go and weigh it again. The pallets had two cans high of 20mm covering the pallet, then wooden pallets and two more cans high of 20mm on them.

The driver came back and said it weighed 10,100 pounds. The loadmaster then made them download the three pallets.

The loadmaster said, "I thought it shouldn't take as many load crew as it did to push a pallet under 5000 pounds."

He also thought it was weird the forklift came off the rear wheels in a turn. The load would have totaled 101,000 pounds. We then flew back to Kadena empty.

Gail H. Meyer, SMSgt (Ret)

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