Friday, June 09, 2006

C-17 Aircraft Arrives at Travis

C-17 Aircraft Arrives at Travis
By Ian Thompson

A C-17 Globemaster III jet transport taxis in backwards before a gathering of Travis servicemembers and community members Friday. The C-17 showed off its capabilities at the event which was put on to introduce the plane to Travis. (Ian Thompson/Daily Republic)

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE - Travis Air Force Base proudly showed off its next big resident Friday to an admiring crowd which watched the C-17 Globemaster III be put through its aerial paces.

Onlookers "oohed" and "aahed" at the nimble aircraft's ability to shoot off the runway at a steep 25 percent angle, pull tight turns, buzz the flightline at high speed and then slow down to almost loiter over the crowd.

It ended its demonstration with landing in a short, near-screeching halt and then taxied to the crowd backward with the loadmaster standing in the rear door, directing the pilot.

Travis also opened the C-17 brought in from March AFB for tours by base residents and community leaders both before and after the aerial demonstration of the plane's capabilities.

The first of 13 C-17s to be based at Travis is expected to arrive some time in late July or early August.

Travis spent the last two years getting ready to support the jet transports with $185 million in military construction projects and bringing in new servicemembers to fly and maintain the C-17.

"We are moving along quite well," said Lt. Col. Paul Dorcey of the 60th Air Mobility Wing's C-17 Program Office.

Some of the 17 construction projects, such as building a C-17 training simulator and a squadron operations building, have already been completed.

As for those who will fly the C-17, "the initial cadre are in place and more people are coming in," Dorcey said.

Fliers such as C-17 Capt. Kevin McCasky said the active-duty 21st Airlift Squadron will be able to fly real-world missions out of Travis the day after the first C-17 arrives.

The Air Force Reserve's 301st AS retrained its members to fly the C-17 and are already flying missions using C-17s based at either March AFB or McChord AFB, Wash.

"A lot of guys are flying a lot of missions," 301st AS commander Col. Dave Pavey said. "We are so excited about it coming here."

The arrival of the C-17 means there will finally be a plane at Travis that will completely accommodate the needs of the 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, 349th AES member Tech. Sgt. Paul Rogers said.

"This is just manna from heaven. It is an airframe that is great for aeromedical evacuation," Rogers said of the C-17's ability to reconfigure into a flying ambulance.

Senior Master Sgt. Ed Carmody of the 21st AS shares a similar excitement, describing the C-17 as being "actually built for the loadmaster" and standing head and shoulders above its predecessor, the C-141 Starlifter.

"It is much more user-friendly," Carmody said.

That includes state-of-the-art technology such as heads-up displays in the cockpit and a design that allows it to nearly "fly like a fighter," said C-17 pilot Capt. Paul Goff said.

This allows the aircraft to fly around the world with a small, three-person crew, and land in short austere runways to deliver almost twice as much cargo as the C-141.

Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or at

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