"Wow" one of the six men said aloud. "How in hell does that guy do that?"
At the same time as the wheels touched down, the four huge props on the wings reversed reverse into the wind with an ear piercing whistle which helped slow the plane's speed until it rolled to a full stop in less than 2,000 feet.
Inside the plane, the pilot spun the nose gear steering control with his left hand and the plane started a slow one-eighty turn and then faced into the rising sun from which it had come. With outside vision at zero from the dust cloud, the pilot watched the ship’s console compass spin and he settled the needle on 134 degrees. Satisfied with his position, he cut power to the inboard engines and the thunder weakened to a deaf roar. He would leave the two outboards running at 20 percent because there was no fuel crisis or any other reason to risk a restart of all four engines. With finality, he locked the brakes, checked the overhead gauges, and then let his eyes scan the tree line outside looking for the signal. It was not long in coming.
From the shadows of the tree line on the right side of the runway, a small light beam flashed once, then twice and then once more. The pilot reached to an overhead panel, flipped a switch off and on, three times. The plane’s running lights flashed in accordance.
Boss watched the plane return his signal, tucked the flashlight away in a pocket and turned to the others with a tone of authority, "Okay. Let's get going and everyone keep your eyes open. I don’t want any more trouble tonight."
Eyes alert and wary, the pilot watched a pair of vehicle headlights glare on from the woods and then start toward him. A third and smaller vehicle followed the parade. He cut power back further on the left side engine, leaving the main right idling then reached for the intercom mike and said, “It’s clear. Open the rear cargo doors.”
A voice over the electronic box replied “Got it; doors open.”
When the rear door, which also served as loading ramp, was fully open and down, two heavy pickup trucks backed to the bottom of the ramp and a yellowish green warehouse forklift puffed to a stop at the base. A dark figure of a man from the left truck stepped out and then up the ramp of the C-130. “Any problems?” he asked the load handler.