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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | May 22, 2011

Getting Heavy at JSOH

By Senior Airman Torey Griffith 11th Wing Public Affairs

The aeronautical spotlight often falls on the Air Force's light and agile fighter aircraft, but behind the scenes, the heavies are making things happen.
From old to new, several examples of huge haulers were on hand at the 2011 Joint Service Open House here May 21 and 22.

"The C-5 Super Galaxy is the largest aircraft in the Air Force's inventory," said 2nd Lieutenant Ben Gleckler, a C-5 pilot with the 9th Airlift Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Del., as he showed the plane to show-goers May 21. "This C-5 is one of four that has been updated with the new engines, new insulation in the fuselage and a brand-new paint job."

The C-5 has been instrumental in moving supplies and personnel to and from the war operations, and even humanitarian operations in places like Africa and Japan.

The lieutenant explained that the gigantic C-5, with its tremendous payload capability, can carry fully equipped combat-ready military units to any point in the world on short notice and then provide field support required to help sustain the fighting force.

The newest and arguably one of the most versatile heavy lifters is the C-17 Globemaster III.

The C-17 is capable of rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to main operating bases or directly to forward bases in the deployment area. The aircraft can perform tactical airlift and airdrop missions and can also transport litters and ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations when required.

"The C-17 is one of the most capable aircraft in the Air Mobility Command with the many different missions it can carry out," said Capt. John Wimberley, a pilot with the 21st Airlift Squadron at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. "It can land and take off from very short airfields, whether asphalt runways or unprepared stretches of dirt or grass. This aircraft is essential to America's ability to carry out the war on terror as we transport cargo and troops in and out of the theatre of battle."

Another cargo plane has been around since the 1950s and with a name like Hercules, there is no doubt about its strength and versatility employed by airmen, Marines, sailors and seamen.

The C-130 Hercules primarily performs the tactical portion of the airlift mission. The aircraft is capable of operating from rough, dirt strips and is the prime transport for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.
The C-130 operates throughout the U.S. Air Force, serving with Air Mobility Command, Air Force Special Operations Command, Air Combat Command, Air Forces in Europe, Pacific Air Forces, Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve Command, fulfilling a wide range of operational missions in both peace and war situations.

Basic and specialized versions of the aircraft airframe perform a diverse number of roles including airlift support, Antarctic ice resupply, aeromedical missions, weather reconnaissance, aerial spray missions, firefighting duties for the U.S. Forest Service and natural disaster relief missions.

The J-model on display here was from the 40th Airlift Squadron, Dyess Air Force Base, Texas.

"The J-model is the newest version of the tried and true C-130 in the Air Force arsenal," said 2nd Lieutenant Zachary Fulton of the 40th ALS. "We are continuing the proud 'Herc' tradition well into the future."

Examples of the Air Force's cargo-hauling heritage were also on display.

The C-123K Provider, a twin engined cargo plane, was a short-range assault transport used for airlifting troops and cargo to and from small, unprepared airstrips. The rugged C-123K became an essential part of U.S. Air Force airlift during the Southeast Asia War, where it flew primarily as an in-theater airlifter and a Ranch Hand sprayer.

Bill Schillig of the Air Heritage Museum in Beaver Falls, Penn., said the C-123K on display here, the Thunder Pig, was rescued from a boneyard after it was decommissioned from the Air Force Reserve in 1980.

"This was a real workhorse in Vietnam," he said. "It could hold up to 60 troops that it could either deliver on small, dirt airfields or air drop behind enemy lines."
He flies the plane to all the locations it goes on display.

"It's a real handful," Mr. Schillig said. "It's all pulley and cable operated, there aren't any hydraulic or electric assists like the newer planes have."

Looking like it just came off the set of an Indiana Jones, another WWII-era cargo plane came to JSOH with a true battle history.

Few aircraft are as well known, widely used or used as long as the C-47. Affectionately nicknamed the "Gooney Bird," this aircraft was adapted from the Douglas DC-3 commercial airliner. The U.S. Army Air Corps ordered its first C-47s in 1940, and by the end of WWII, procured a total of 9,348. These C-47s carried personnel and cargo around the globe.

They also towed troop-carrying gliders, dropped paratroops into enemy territory, and air evacuated sick or wounded patients. A C-47 could carry 28 passengers, 18-22 fully equipped paratroopers, about six thousand pounds of cargo, or 18 stretchers and three medical personnel.

"This particular C-47 participated in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, France, June 6, 1944, dropping paratroopers behind enemy lines," said Naomi Wadsworth of the Historical Aircraft Group Museum in Geneseo, N.Y. "These versatile aircraft are more than 70 years old and many are still in service around the world today."