Knife Story: Leatherman Tool saves the day for USAF C-130

Leatherman Tool saves the day

As the author says, he is no longer in the military and any statute of limitations has come and gone. In peacetime, the military frowns on improvisation instead of SOP. But when you are stranded in a remote tribal area of the Philippines, necessity is what it is. And a brand new (at the time) Leatherman tool saved the day and got the Herc back home.

From American Digest:

Back in the day, I was an Air Force C-130 pilot stationed at Clark AB in the Philippines. I was assigned this trip which had the purpose of supporting two very small units on Yap Island…a Coast Guard unit who ran a LORAN station (which is an old-school navigational aid), and a Navy Seabee unit which was building roads, bridges, whatever for the Yapese. They each had about a dozen guys each (maybe). Every two weeks, we’d fly out to Guam, spend the night, and then the next day we’d fly to Yap to bring these guys any supplies, mail, or food that they needed…

After leaving the plane for a while, while some SeaBees unloaded it, the author returned to find himself in a bit of a pickle.

…The battery to the plane was (effectively) dead. I couldn’t start the APU to start the airplane’s engines. I couldn’t start the APU to power the HF radio to call someone to send us a new battery.

I was stuck.

I’m not at all proud of this, but I immediately lost my cool and started stomping around cursing like a sailor. The Army missionary and his wife just sort of disappeared. I wondered “How the eff was I going to get this airplane out of Yap?”

And that was when my copilot saved the day…

…that was when my copilot reached into his flight suit pocket and pulled out the first Leatherman I’d ever seen. I’d seen them advertised in magazines, but up until then, I’d never laid eyes on one.

A good weekend read.

I am an armchair aviator, with a particular love for the C-130. I fly one as part of a group using the mobile flight simulator Infinite Flight. My first simmed flight was on an Amiga computer in 1987, and I am constantly amazed that an app on my phone is eclipsed only by 2 or 3 desktop-dedicated simulators. I have almost 1000 simmed hours on Infinite Flight, and I am currently coordinating simulated pattern search and humanitarian airlift with about a dozen other people around the Laos dam collapse, in a C-130.

I know that this little anecdote has nothing to do with knives, but it was the most personal connection, other than a mild fondness for Leatherman tools, that I could come up with.

(h/t Sam)


  1. Sam L. says:

    This is such a great story!

  2. Thanks for the link. I appreciate it.

  3. Great story, but I am surprise that a rough-field aircraft like the C-130 doesn’t travel with a fairly complete tool kit. All that was needed was a pair of pliers.

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Knife Story: Leatherman Tool saves the day for USAF C-130

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