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Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-24-2006, 03:32 PM   #1
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Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

As a retired military guy I can fly space available on military aircraft, but I have never taken advantage of the option so far.

If you have traveled Space-A, either in CONUS or overseas, what advice can you give me about the best way to do it, problems encountered, what to avoid, what to definately do at all times etc.* I picked up a book that addresses Space-A travel and it referred me to www.spaceatravel.com
but advice from folks that have done it is always the best IMHO.

Another simular issue has to do with traveling in the USA in your car and staying at military bases. This appears to me to be a very cost effective way to travel and have a nice place to stay ovenight at a reasonable cost. I place great value in the personal recomendations of folks on the list. If you have traveled around and used military lodging facilities rather than motels or camping can you give me your views?

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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-24-2006, 05:10 PM   #2
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

I haven't traveled Space-A since I was a cadet, but I've spent a lot of time at MAC/AMC terminals. Like you, I'd like to do it sometime.
- You'll need to be very flexible about where you go and how long it takes to get there/get back.
- Sometimes you need to travel away from your ultimate destination in order to have the best chance of getting there. Certain hubs have a lot of flights, with a lot of expected available seats. I'm not current on the best hubs--it used to be that in the US you wanted to be at Dover AFB (for Europe), Charleston AFB (for Europe/South America/Africa), McGuire AFB (same as Charleston AFB destinations) Travis AFB and McChord AFB (Pacific).
- Aircraft:
-- C-5: Comfortable flying up in the tail area (each acft has 75 available seats regardless of the configuration of the cargo area. Of course, many times none of these are released/available for space-a folks). BUT-- the C-5 breaks down a lot. It is an old acft and very complex (watch how the gear retracts sometime). So, expect the scheduled takeoff time to slip, and expect that, once you land, the plane may not go to another destination regardless of the original schedule.
-- C-17: Very comfortable, fairly quiet. Some have comfortable soft seats along the wall, a few have the original hard-plastic seats that are not comfortable--bring something softer to sit on from your luggage.
-- C-130: These are tactical acft for fairly short hops, I don't think there are many space-A flights available. If you get to fly aboard one it will be noisy, smelly, bumpy. You may throw up. You'll also be aboard one of the most magnificent and important acft flying, and the airplane which has been in continuous production longer than any other.
-- KC-135 or KC-10: Comfortable, but always cold (especially the floor on the KC-135). In fact, none of the military acft except DV and medevac acft have temperature controls as good as an airliner--bring something warm to drape over you regardless of the weather.

- Bring food with you (powerbar-type stuff, nothing messy or smelly). Also, bring water. When you sign up for space-A, enquire about meals and order one if they are available. It won't be fancy, but there will be a lot of food for your money. (On my first trip to Germany I was with a bunch of retirees who were not offered a chance to buy food. I was the only guy to get a box lunch. Of course I passed it around--when it got back to me there was one lonely chicklet in the box).
-- You'll be offered earplugs--use them. There's less sound insulation on military acft (it reduces availabe payload for beans/bullets).

Again, with Space-A you can easily get stranded in one location for a long time, so you'll have to be flexible and bring enough money to buy a ticket if you must (or at least buy a ticket to where you can get another space-a flight).

I remember well the faces of retirees traveling space-A: some were clearly sick of the waiting around and uncertainty. Others were happy vagabonds just looking to go somewhere exciting and not too picky about where they ended up. The later group seemed to be having a really good time.

Military quarters: They can be a really good deal (though they used to be a lot cheaper--$6 per night was common). You'll be in safe quarters that are generally clean. Places to eat are always within walking distance on base, though it will be food-court type stuff.
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-24-2006, 08:11 PM   #3
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

Quote:
Originally Posted by samclem
* *- Aircraft:
* * * -- C-5:* Comfortable flying up in the tail area (each acft has 75 available seats regardless of the configuration of the cargo area.* Of course, many times none of these are released/available fr space-a folks).* BUT-- the C-5 breaks down a lot.* It is an old acft and very complex (wathc how the gear retracts sometime).* So, expect the scheduled takeoff time to slip, and expect that, once you land, the plane may not go to another destination regardless of the original schedule.
* * * -- C-130:* These are tactical acft for fairly short hops, I don't think there are many space-A flights available.* If you get to fly abord one it will be noisy, smelly,* bumpy.* *You may throw up.* You'll also be aboard one of the most magnificent and important acft flying, and the airplane which has been in continuous production longer than any other.
I'll add to the aircraft comments:
- I didn't realize that the C-5 seats face aft until we started rolling down the ramp. It's a freaky feeling.
- 20 years ago spouse and I got all the C-130 seats we wanted when the people in front of us bailed out of line with comments like "No #$%^ing way am I ever getting onboard one of them again!" It's one of the few aircraft explicitly designed to make you happy to jump out of it. Sometimes you even get to wear a parachute.

Just about every AMC terminal is on the web and may let you sign up from your current location. Test-run your travel plan by checking the flights available through that terminal.

You'd be amazed how many places in the world offer pizza delivered to your hotel room at 2 AM.

http://www.afvclub.com/

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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-24-2006, 09:49 PM   #4
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

Quote:
20 years ago spouse and I got all the C-130 seats we wanted when the people in front of us bailed out of line with comments like "No #$%^ing way am I ever getting onboard one of them again!" It's one of the few aircraft explicitly designed to make you happy to jump out of it.
After six months in Macedonia (next to Kosovo) I was happy to get on anything that would take me home. Although I think I could have walked faster than that thing
Pretty fun to jump out of them too. Just the landing part that sucked. My knees hurt for six months after Airborne school. Thank God I never got assigned to the 82d.
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-25-2006, 07:43 AM   #5
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

I have traveled several times Space-A in Conus and OCONUS with good success. I have done solo trips to go fishing for the weekend or to Vegas and major vacations with the family.* Its all about the planning.* Of course my theory is if I can get there I will have a back up plan on how to get back worse case.*

You really have to know what is going on and information can make or break you if you are on a time crunch.* For example I think if you are retired you probably don't want to be traveling near the time the DoD schools get out as your priority is low.* I have met folks that this is all they do.* Look at this board.* These guys have it down to a science.*

http://www.pepperd.com/scgi-bin/discus/discus.cgi

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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-26-2006, 03:57 PM   #6
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

We've done three Space-A trips to Europe, all wonderful. In addition to what's already been mentioned:

-Sign up everywhere you think you might even remotely fly in/out of.

-If you sign up via email then print out the emails and carry them all with you. They frequently lose sign ups, but if you have a hard copy of something they will go by the earlier date.

-Information is key. We carry a tiny notebook with the phone numbers for nearly every base in Europe: once got home via a Naples to Sicily to Rota to Delaware hop. Wouldn't have made it there if we hadn't called each of those places to connect the dots. The notebook also came in handy for jotting down other information along the way like the bus schedule from Seville to Moron Air base, hotel info, etc.
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-26-2006, 04:34 PM   #7
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

I've made several space-A trips.* Last one was to kaneohe in Hawaii.* We landed on a Saturday afternoon about 1 pm.* The Marines didn't seem to care. I did make certain we were signed up before we left the terminal by rounding up an enlisted man to input us into the schedule.* Even though some people on the flight had reserved rental cars, none were there because it was Saturday.* I had to go into the Honolulu airport to get a rental.*

Patience plus tenacity is recommended.* Make sure you sign up EARLY for any space-A trip and I always verify the flight and my eligibility the day before.* C-130 trips are loud (earplugs required), cold and slow.* Bring your own food (to be sure you have some) and your own entertainment.* If you just must get somewhere at a specific time, it doesn't hurt to have a backup plan and/or money for a commercial flight.* Otherwise, patience and tenacity pay off and the price is right. One perk on this end, I was able to leave my vehicle parked onbase, right next to BaseOps, for the week we were gone, at no charge.*
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-26-2006, 09:32 PM   #8
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

Can a retired individual travel Space-A with one of his adult children (his daughter, for example) so that she can "assist the poor, old, senior citizen" with his luggage, etc. etc.?

(Not that the septugenarian in question couldn't beat me in a footrace of any length I'd care to try, but that's another thread entirely.)

Caroline



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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding
Old 03-27-2006, 10:08 AM   #9
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Re: Space-A Travel/Temp. Military Logding

Thanks you all for your information it is all very helpful. 8)
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