It was packed inside. There were no "cabins." It was just one long metal tube with seats crammed into every available space, and everyone of them filled. Luckily, as an officer, I was able to board first and get a window seat on the left side of the plane. That put my left arm, still smarting from from seventeen shots that I received minutes before we boarded, in the space next to the window where it wouldn't bump against anything.
There was no functioning entertainment system. No music and definitely no movies. A young soldier sitting near me asked a stewardess. She replied that she was the "entertainment." She wasn't much good at it.
Travis was built with extra long and wide runways to accommodate B-52 bombers. We needed them. As our plane began to roll we looked at each other. It didn't take an experienced flyer to realize that we were carrying the maximum load. The plane floated on its suspension. Every seam in the taxiway caused the planed to dip and float slowly back. The cargo compartments must have been even fuller than the passenger compartment.
When we turned onto the runway, the pilot took us to the very end and made a u-turn so that we could take advantage of every inch of pavement to accelerate and get airborne. He set the brakes and revved up the engines until they were screaming with white hot fury. The plane rolled from side-to-side and we expected to take off as though launched from an aircraft carrier catapult. Instead, when the pilot released the brakes, we surged ahead like a giant glob of honey pouring from a jar.
We were worried. Well, I was. I had flown enough to know that we needed speed to lift off. However, I swear that birds were passing us on the runway. And they were walking.
Towards the end of the runway there were signs warning that we were approaching the end. (I'm not saying the end of what.) 5 - 4 - 3... I don't know how far apart they were, but the plane still hadn't rotated - the nose wheel was still on the ground - when we passed "2."
I don't think it ever rotated. I believe that the pilot simply raised the landing gear like a woman might raise her skirts to cross a puddle, and we cleared the chainlink fence at the end of the runway.
We circled until we gained enough altitude to clear the mountains circling Travis before heading northwest to Alaska. The planes headed for Vietnam alternated routes with the first stop being either Alaska or Hawaii. My plane went from Alaska to Japan to Guam to Wake Island to Bien Hoa, Vietnam.
We were allowed to deplane and stretch our legs at each stop. I was comatose most of the time - almost 24 hours total - sleeping off a hangover and recovering some feeling in my arm.