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OPERAT 16 [[image - black & white photograph of a C-119 aircraft being loaded through the rear clamshell doors]] [[caption]] Loading C-119 at Floyd Bennett Airport [[/caption]] ROARING out of Floyd Bennett Airport in Brooklyn, N.Y., a lone Fairchild C-119 "Flying Boxcar" climbed into a hazy, early-morning autumn sky and swung its nose in a lazy arc toward the Caribbean. Ostensibly it was just one of Floyd Bennett's over 450 daily take-offs, but in reality it marked a milestone in Air Force Reserve training progress. For the five-man crew piloting Air Force 49106 were flying the windup mission of Operation 16 Tons - biggest airlift in Air Reserve history. Operation 16 Tons entailed the ferrying by Air Reserve Troop Carrier wings of nearly 1,000,000 pounds of equipment from Long Island to the Caribbean area. The Reserve aircraft hauled material to assist the US Coast Guard establish a LORAN (Long Range Navigation Aid) chain in the Caribbean area. Crew of the C-119 on the windup fight were Maj. Harry Amdur of Far Rockaway, N. Y., pilot; Capt. Wilbur H. Diedenkapp of East Meadow, Long Island, N. Y., co-pilot; Lt. Frank J. Santo of Bridgeport, Conn., an additional co-pilot; Maj. Frank X. Reilly of Jackson Heights, N. Y., navigator; and Airman First Class Roger L. Thoreson of Milwaukee, Wis., crew chief. All five crewmen are members of the 514th Troop Carrier Wing, Long Island's own Reserve wing stationed at Mitchel Air Force Base, N. Y. Stowed in the C-119's cargo hold were 7,500 cargo pounds bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico. The flight was the 164th sortie of Operation 16 Tons. All-in-all, since Operation 16 Tons got underway last June 22nd, over 860,000 pounds of LORAN equipment had been airlifted, some 526,000 miles flown and approximately 3,000 hours logged - all without a single mishap. Air Reserve crews airlifted about 740,000 pounds from Floyd Bennett Airport to San Juan. The remaining more than 122,000 pounds were ferried from Floyd Bennett to San Salvador in the Bahamas. Twelve of the Air Reserve's 13 Troop Carrier wings participated in the airlift. Piloting C-46 Curtiss Commandos and C-119 Fairchild Flying Boxcars, they flew an average of two sorties daily to the Caribbean, carrying an average of 16 tons each day. Air Reserve crews airlifted the majority of the LORAN equipment to the Caribbean sites during their summer active duty training tours extending from June to September. The remainder of the cargo was flown by Reservists on special active duty tours during early September. In the overall Operation 16 Tons plan, the Coast Guard LORAN equipment was loaded into Reserve Troop Carrier aircraft at Floyd Bennett Airport ion Brooklyn. Air Reserve crews then ferried the equipment over 1,000 air miles to Miami International Airport in Florida. Miami Airport served as the jump-off point for the Caribbean flights. The Caribbean Sea, incidentally, encompasses some 1,667,762 square miles. At Miami the Reserve aircrews were given a thorough briefing on overwater flying by officers of the 2585th Air Reserve Flying Center there before undertaking the long Caribbean hops. Page 8
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