COURTESY GINA VANATTER / BOEING
The first Air Force C-17 to be based outside the mainland took off Friday for the first time from the Long Beach, Calif., airport, with Boeing pilot Joel Brown at the controls. The aircraft will be flown to Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe on Feb. 7 and turned over to Hickam officials the next day.
Military's newest cargo jet ready for action
The first of eight Air Force C-17s is on its way to Hawaii
A C-17 Globemaster cargo jet that can carry a payload four times greater than the standard C-130 propeller plane has finished its final flight trials in Southern California, and it's ready to be the first stationed in Hawaii.
"The airplane feels really good," said Boeing pilot Joel Brown, who flew the 174-foot cargo and troop transport last week, in a news release.
C-17 GLOBEMASTER III
Function: Cargo and troop transport
Length: 174 feet
Wingspan: 170 feet
Speed: 450 knots (Mach .74)
Power: Four turbofan engines
Crew: Three (two pilots and loadmaster)
Load: 144 soldiers or three 19-ton Stryker combat vehicles or 170,900 pounds of cargo
The $202 million cargo jet, dubbed the "Spirit of Hawaii Ke Aloha," will be flown to Marine Corps Base Hawaii at Kaneohe Bay on Feb. 7 and be turned over to Hickam officials the following day.
The Globemaster is one of eight that will be assigned to the first active Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard unit -- the first outside the mainland. It will be crewed by 150 members from both services.
The Hickam unit will have 40 air crews, with three coming from the active Air Force and five from the Hawaii Air National Guard. Each of the eight cargo jets will be assigned five crews. Its maintenance section will have a similar mixture of active Air Force and Hawaii Air National Guard personnel. The aircraft, aircrews and mechanics will be housed at a new $190 million facility at Hickam.
The active-duty Air Force portion of the unit will be the 535th Airlift Squadron, commanded by Lt. Col. Chris Davis. The other component will be the Hawaii Air National Guard's 204th Airlift Squadron, which will be led by Lt. Col. Scott Kimsey.
On Friday, the Hickam-bound C-17 made its first flight, flying nearly 3 1/2 hours over Catalina and the San Clemente Islands and performing various routine flight tests over the Pacific Ocean, said Gary Lesser, Boeing Co. spokesman, in the news release.
Lesser said the aircraft will be the Air Force's 146th C-17.
The C-17s are the first of 16 destined for the Pacific Air Forces; the other eight will go to Elmendorf Air Force Base in Alaska beginning in 2007, Lesser said.
Boeing has said one C-17 can carry 144 soldiers, three 19-ton Stryker combat vehicles or 170,900 pounds of cargo as far as 2,700 miles without refueling. The Army is in the process of converting the 25th Infantry Division's 3rd Brigade Combat Team into one built around 300 Strykers, with nearly 4,000 soldiers.
Besides delivering troops, C-17 Globemasters were used last year during the Pacific tsunami relief efforts, the rescue of the trapped Russian submariners, the Pakistan earthquake humanitarian mission and the Marshall Islands fire in September, the Air Force said.
In a news release last week, Gen. Paul Hester, Pacific Air Forces commander, who will pilot the C-17 to Hickam, said: "The C-17 gives our nation the flexibility and dexterity to excel across the entire spectrum of military operations -- it can provide humanitarian aid one day and support full-scale combat the next."