Monday, March 20, 2006

Globemaster for Travis

Globemaster for Travis
Plant Visit Offers Promising Peek at C-17
By Reporter Staff

Travis Air Force Base Col. Timothy M. Zadalis speaks Friday at Boeing's manufacturing plant in Long Beach. Col. Zadalis, along with Travis troops and local media flew to the plant to get a sneak peek at the first of 13 C-17 Globemasters being assembled. (Ryan Chalk/The Reporter)

Troops from Travis Air Force Base and local officials got a sneak peek at Travis' oncoming fleet of C-17 Globemasters on Friday morning, as Boeing Co. showed off the first of that aircraft being assembled at its Long Beach manufacturing plant.

Travis is scheduled to receive the first of its 13 C-17s in July. The Globemaster transports will replace one of Travis' squadrons of C-5 Galaxies.

Standing in front of a C-17 in the assembly process,

A C-17 Globemaster destined for another air force base, nears completion at Boeing's Long Beach plant. The first of 13 C-17's headed to Travis AFB is also being assembled at the facility. (Ryan Chalk /The Reporter)

Col. Timothy M. Zadalis, the vice commander of Travis' 60th Air Mobility Wing, said the Globemasters will be a perfect fit in Solano County.

"We call ourselves 'America's First Choice,' ' Zadalis said. "Travis has a reputation for excellence."

Col. Michael R. Shanahan, Travis' chief of C-17 integration, said the new line will add to the local economy, as training needs will bring more jobs immediately to Travis.

"Boeing will be a presence on the base," Shanahan said. "There will be a need for contractors."

The C-17, which has a fuselage 174 feet long, is described by the Air Force as the "most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force." The craft first debuted in 1993 at Charleston Air Force Base in South Carolina.

Currently, the nation's only squadrons of Globemasters operate out of bases in South Carolina, Washington, New Jersey and Mississippi. Washington's McChord Air Force Base hosts two squadrons of C-17s. Other than scattered units in Southern California and Hawaii, McChord and Travis will be the prime locations for C-17s on the West Coast.

Meanwhile, the future of the C-17 in the modern Air Force has been the focus of scorn from politicians as President Bush and the Pentagon in February called for the halting of the production after Boeing finishes the first 180 C-17s in 2008.

Mike Reagan, a retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and current county supervisor, expressed disappointment in the talk of ending production of the C-17s, saying it could affect future staffing growth at Travis.

"We need to keep pounding on the Air Force to bring more planes here," Reagan told The Reporter in February.

The status of the C-17 line remains in limbo as Congress debates the federal budget.

Photography intern Ryan Chalk and staff writer Tom Hall contributed to this report.

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