The rear door of a C-130H Hercules opens in mid-flight, exposing the lush landscape of northern Michigan just a few hundred feet below. Tethered inside the aircraft, Tech. Sgt. Trent Barron, a C-130H flight engineer assigned to the 169th Airlift Squadron, Illinois Air National Guard, is preparing for a piece of military cargo weighing more than 1,000 lbs. to slide from the back of the plane, and — after being caught by a quickly deployed parachute — descend gently to Earth.
“I’m going through my head mentally, going through the checklist to make sure we’ve accomplished all the items for the air drop, that we are ready for something big to exit the aircraft,” Barron says.