Saturday, December 23, 2006

20 Charleston C-17s fill the sky

Several C-17 Globemaster IIIs fly as part of a 20-ship formation Dec. 21 over South Carolina. The C-17s, assigned to the 437th and 315th Airlift Wings at Charleston AFB, were part of the largest formation in history from a single base and demonstrated the strategic airdrop capability of the Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)
And via Mark Cleary:
Charleston AFB breaks C-17 flying record
by Airman 1st Class Sam Hymas 437th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
12/21/2006 - CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- The largest formation of C-17 Globemaster IIIs from a single base took off from here Dec. 21 in a demonstration of Charleston AFB's strategic airdrop capability.
After taking off at 9:30 a.m. at 30-second intervals, the 20 C-17s flew over the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge and then back over the base to "wave" at maintenance, aerial port and other support Airmen who helped make the flight possible.
The formation continued to North Auxiliary Field near Orangeburg, S.C., and completed a massive airdrop.
"The 437th and 315th Airlift Wing partnership allows us to deliver a huge amount of airpower in a short amount of time," said Col. Steven Harrison, 437 AW vice commander. "This training demonstrates the outstanding teamwork between both organizations to be mission ready when the nation needs this critical capability."
The formation was designed to help Airmen involved complete needed training. More than 500 training events took place during the flight and seven aircrews were certified as formation airdrop leads.
"We had a chance to see the muscle and the might the 437th Airlift Wing can put forward," said Capt. Jaron Roux, 15th Airlift Squadron pilot who was the aircraft commander on the second plane in the formation.
The 437th Airlift Wing must be able to meet the Army's goal of airdropping a brigade's worth of Soldiers and their equipment within 30 minutes. An Army brigade includes about 3,250 Soldiers and 3,450 tons of equipment.
Additionally, nine of the C-17s practiced aerial refueling as part of the training. "It's important to us to stress our organization occasionally and make sure we're able to support the Global War on Terrorism and still respond to any other contingency in the world. We must make sure we can generate the crews and the aircraft in a timely manner," said Colonel Harrison.
On average, more than 200 tons of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom cargo is processed through the 437th Aerial Port Squadron daily with approximately 65 percent of all air cargo bound for American warfighters in Iraq and Afghanistan originating here.
"I don't know if there's another unit in the world that could do this," said Colonel Harrison.