Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Bee Liners Now Part of Travis' C-17 Squadron

Bee Liners Now Part of Travis' C-17 Squadron
By Ian Thompson

TRAVIS AFB - A gift of squadron momentos and some words lauding the heritage of the 21st Airlift Squadron marked the final step in the group's transition to a C-17 Globemaster III squadron.

The squadron, nicknamed the Bee Liners, will now be flying the C-17 Globemaster and not the C-5 Galaxy that had been its airlift workhorse since 1993.

The Bee Liners ended their last overseas C-5 mission on March 13 and flew their last local C-5 training mission on Friday.

"Transition and change has always been a part of the squadron," said 21st AS commander Lt. Col. David Pollmiller at the small Monday morning ceremony in the squadron's operations building.

The 21st logged more than 130,000 hours flying the C-5 since it moved to Travis AFB in 1993, hauled more than 830 million tons of cargo and carried more than 250,000 passengers, Pollmiller said.

Most of the C-5 trained aircrew have either transferred to the base's remaining active-duty C-5 squadron or have moved to C-5 squadrons on other bases.

The 21st AS is now bulking up on fliers trained on the C-17. The first of the squadron's 13 C-17s is expected to arrive from the production plant in Long Beach in late July and will be up to full strength by 2008.

Once that is done, 60th Air Mobility Wing commander Col. Lyn Sherlock said Travis will be the only base in Air Mobility Command to be flying three different kinds of aircraft - the C-17, the C-5 and the KC-10 Extender.

"We will continue to be America's first choice more than ever," Sherlock said.

The gathering all took a moment of silence to think of the Dover AFB, Del., aircrew injured when its C-5 crash-landed Monday morning while trying to return to land at that base.

"That brings home some of the risks and danger we face," Pollmiller said.

The 21st AS is now one of two squadrons on base that will be flying the C-17. The other is the Air Force Reserve's 301st Airlift Squadron, which has been retraining its reservists to fly the C-17.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or ithompson@dailyrepublic.net.

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