Monday, April 03, 2006

Squadron Flies Last Mission on C-5 Galaxy

Squadron Flies Last Mission on C-5 Galaxy
By Ian Thompson

The crew that flew the last local C-5 mission for the 21st Airlift Squadron were hosed down per tradition on arrival at Travis AFB on Friday. (Ian Thompson/ Daily Republic)

TRAVIS AFB - The 21st Airlift Squadron's last mission flying a C-5 Galaxy transport ended Friday amid streams of water as fellow squadron members soaked the crew.

It was a traditional, unofficial farewell to the aircraft that the squadron flew since 1993 before it took up flying a new bird - the C-17 Globemaster III transport.

"I enjoyed this plane. I enjoy getting on this plane every time," said 21st AS commander Lt. Col. Paul Pollmiller, who commanded the squadron's last C-5 mission. "But we are also looking to move the C-17 forward."

The squadron flew its last overseas mission in a C-5 early in March, which took the aircraft around the world, dropping supplies in Iraq, collecting Marines in Hyderbad, India, and picking up two helicopters in Hawaii.

On Friday, Pollmiller took the helm of the last C-5 mission, which involved practicing air refuelings, take-offs and landings before taxiing in under streams of water slot into the air by Travis firefighting trucks.

"It is a bittersweet moment," 21st AS operations officer Lt. Col. Christopher Bingham said, adding that the C-5s and squadron members who flew them "did amazing things over the years."

Most of the squadron's aircrew who are trained to fly C-5s have already transferred to the base's other C-5 squadron or transferred to other bases. The 21st will make the formal transition to a C-17 squadron on Monday.

The Reservists of the 301st AS, which is also changing from C-5s to C-17s, have been retraining to fly Globemasters for a year and some of them are already flying missions on C-17s located at other bases.

Travis is expected to get the first of 13 C-17s in late July with the rest arriving over the next three years.

The base, which had 34 C-5s stationed here two years ago, is in the process of being cut back to having only 16 left that will be flown by the remaining active-duty and Reserve C-5 squadrons.

The older C-5s that are leaving Travis are being sent to Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard units stationed elsewhere in the country.

More than $250 million already has been spent to build the support facilities and infrastructure needed to support the Globemaster squadron, ranging from maintenance facilities to a squadron operations center.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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