An AC-130 gunship is shown in this undated photo provided by the U.S. Air Force. (AP/U.S. Air Force)
This time of year, you hear people using the word "Spooky" a lot. But it's always "spooky" at Hurlburt Field at Ft. Walton Beach.
"Spooky" is a 36-and-a-half ton aircraft that plays a major role in our nation's defense capabilities.
The word Spooky means two things, frightening and a flying tank.
The Air Force introduced the AC-130-U in 1995 and based its design off the original Vietnam era AC47 Spooky gunship.
SMSGT. Christpher Jette, an Aeriel Gunner tells us both gunships operated mostly at night, to stay hidden from view. "Sometimes the only way they were seen was through their trace of fire. They also had an illuminator mission where they would kick out illuminator flares."
Gunship historian retired Lt. Colonel David Metts recounts his Vietnam experience from the ground watching AC47's reign fire down on the enemy. "There were several AC47's circling the base and literally it looked like a red waterfall."
The AC47's layout was three -- seven point 62 millimeter machine guns. All mounted on the left side. However the Air Force felt it still needed more fire power.
The AC130 U brought just that with it's one oh five millimeter howitzer canon, 40 millimeter auto canon and 25 millimeter Gatlin gun, all still mounted on the left side of the plane.
With a layout like that, the mysterious origin of Spooky's name is a little clearer.
All of the Air Force's "Spooky" AC-130-U gunship's are assigned to the 1st Special Ops Wing at Hurlburt or the 27th Special Ops Wing at Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico.