Hurlburt's Spooky Mission!

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Naomi M. Griego
  • 1st Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
On a cold, dark Halloween night lurks a shadow in the sky. The smell of fire lingers in the air. A loud ratcheting sound can be heard from miles away. If you live near Hurlburt Field, what you are witnessing is an appearance of the AC-130U "Spooky" gunship in action.

It all began during another time period: the Vietnam War. The AC-47 "Spooky" was the first of a series the Air Force created that ultimately led to today's AC-130U gunship, also called "Spooky". The aircraft operated inconspicuously, mostly at night, which brought about its nickname.

The AC-47 provided close-air support and provided illumination to the battleground. This was considered to be instrumental in its success.

The Air Force introduced the AC-130U in 1995, with more firepower than its predecessor. The AC-130U honed the capabilities of the AC-47 and continues to be the inconspicuous aircraft that provides tremendous fire power in a variety of missions.

"Sometimes the only way that they were seen was through their trace of fire," said Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Jette, an aerial gunner for the 4th Special Operations Squadron.

The AC-130U has a 105mm Howitzer cannon, 40mm auto cannon and 25mm Gatlin gun all mounted on the left side.

"They also had an illumination mission, where they would kick out illumination flares," said Jette. The "Angel flares" that the AC-130U uses, creates an angel design in the air when used for illumination. The remnants of an angel remain in the sky only lit by what little moonlight remains.

It is no wonder why the AC-130 is utilized in many night-to-night operations: it has the ability to operate in adverse weather conditions and for long periods at night, all while staying hidden from sight. After the sun goes down, the wheels of the "Spooky" gunship go up to complete yet another mission.