Monday, August 07, 2006

A Big Day for Travis, Solano

A Big Day for Travis, Solano
Tuesday will be a momentous day at Travis Air Force Base.

The first of 13 new Globemaster III C-17s will arrive at its permanent destination on the tarmac off Hickam Avenue. It is a proud day for Travis and for Solano County.

An incredible amount of preparation has gone into securing the C-17s for Travis, a process that began back in 2002 when the Air Mobility Command received word that it would receive the aircraft and two squadrons, one active duty and one reserve.

More than $180 million has been spent on base in construction projects to make ready for the new airplanes. In all, there are 17 construction projects, including a training simulator and squadron operations building.

At ceremonies planned on base Tuesday morning, military personnel and the community will welcome the first aircraft, aptly named "The Spirit of Solano." There's no question, Solano County has embraced Travis and helped wherever and whenever it could in the effort to expand missions at the base and keep Travis off any proposed base closure lists.

Base commanders repeatedly lauded local officials for support, including the Travis Regional Armed Forces Committee, which represents the seven Solano County cities and chambers of commerce. TRAF recently won the Air Mobility's Citizen of the Year Award for its dedication to Travis.
The C-17s will join C-5s and KC-10s giving Travis a full spectrum of missions, covering strategic, tactical and refueling tasks close to home and around the globe.

Those who will be flying and maintaining the new aircraft speak highly of its versatility and reliability. One of those is the 349th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron. Members of that team call it a "manna from heaven" because it can be reconfigured into a flying ambulance.

Others talk about the airplanes maneuverability. One pilot describes its technology as so sophisticated that it flies "like a fighter." It has the ability to land on short runways and carry twice the cargo of the airplane it replaces, the C-141 Starlifter.

Tuesday's C-17 arrival is only a beginning. On tap will be new assault landing zone to be built to accommodate aircrew training by 2009.

Congratulations to Travis and the entire AMW for a job well done. And to a bright future.

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