GREGG KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gov. Linda Lingle and Gen. Paul Hester stood at attention yesterday while the national anthem was played at Hickam Air Force Base, where the Air Force and the Hawaii Air National Guard's first C-17 Globemaster jet cargo plane was christened.
The arrival of the $200M ride
State leaders take Hickam's new cargo jet for a test run
One of the first flights by a C-17 Globemaster military cargo jet over Hawaii waters yesterday was simply a fun ride.
Even Republican Minority Leader Sen. Fred Hemmings joked that "for a $200 million ride, it's great," as he and other state leaders, including Gov. Linda Lingle, flew for 34 minutes on Hickam Air Force Base's first C-17.
More will follow. The modern Boeing-built C-17s will be the main workhorses in a new partnership between the Air Force and the Hawaii National Guard. The two units have been training together since last fall at a new $190 million operations and maintenance facilities at Hickam.
The first C-17 in the squadron to arrive in Hawaii was baptized as the "Spirit of Hawaii -- Ke Aloha,"* and was nicknamed "Hawaii One" for its historic first flight in the state.
Yesterday, filled not with cargo, but with plenty of Hawaii leaders, Hawaii One banked to the right during a flyover of Hickam, where hundreds of spectators watched the maneuvers. At the helm were Hawaii Air National Guard pilot Capt. Kimo Lowe and his active-duty counterpart, Air Force Capt. Paul Theriot.
GREGG KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Gen. Paul Hester, commander of Air Force operations in the Pacific and Asia, sat in the cockpit of a C-17 Globemaster cargo jet yesterday with Air Force Capt. Paul Theriot and Hawaii Air National Guard Capt. Kimo Lowe.
Hawaii One is the first of eight C-17s that will be assigned to Hickam. It was modified with an extra fuel tank so it can fly at least 10 hours without refueling, enough to reach the East Coast or Asia without a stop. All of the C-17s should be in Hawaii by early October. The Air Force also plans to spend $18 million to build a 4,250-foot runway at the Big Island's Kona Airport to practice combat landings. Boeing says the aircraft with a payload of 160,000 pounds can land on runways as short as 3,000 feet.
Because the C-17s are part of a state-Air Force partnership, it means they will be available for state emergencies, and possibly for humanitarian efforts in the Pacific.
"In times of emergencies in the state, this plane could move tremendous amounts of cargo and people. In that sense it really expands our disaster preparedness," Gov. Lingle said. "It gives us another option. ... It's a real plus for the people here."
Brig. Gen. Peter Pawling, who commands the Hawaii Air Guard's 154th Wing, said the C-17 can carry in one load what took four of his older propeller-driven C-130 Hercules cargo planes. The last C-130 in the fleet will soon be part of the Idaho Air Guard fleet.
CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Also making its official isle debut yesterday was the Stryker at Schofield Barracks. Cpl. Jeremy Beers lifted the hatch before getting out of the vehicle.
Maj. Gen. Bob Lee, head of the Hawaii National Guard, said the first C-17 will be used only on Air Force missions. A second C-17 that is expected to arrive in three weeks will be used for state missions.
Besides a continuing and growing partnership with the Hawaii Air Guard, Gen. Paul Hester -- the four-star general who commands all of the Air Force operations in the Pacific and Asia -- said the C-17 puts the Air Force in a better position to help other military services in Hawaii -- including the new Army Stryker brigades at Schofield Barracks -- or military units in Alaska.
But its reach also could mean the C-17s could bring more work for Hawaii's crews. Master Sgt. Kale Barney, who was a flight engineer in the C-130 and was retrained for the C-17, said the new plane will mean new and longer missions that could keep them away from home for longer periods.
"It will mean our TDY (temporary duty) missions will be a lot longer," said Kale, who has been in the Hawaii Air Guard since he graduated from Kailua High School in 1989.
» Aug. 19, 2004: Groundbreaking for the $30 million Hickam Air Force Base C-17 Globemaster jet transport operations, training and maintenance center. Total cost was $190 million. The facility became operational last summer.
» February 2005: Air Force signs an environment assessment designating Kona Airport on the Big island as a practice airfield for combat landings.
» February 2005: The first class of Hawaii Air National Guard C-130 cargo pilots return from Altus Air Force Base in Oklahoma for four months of C-17 transport jet transitional training.
» March 21: The first rivet of a Hawaii-based C-17 is driven at Boeing Co.'s Long Beach facility.
» August: Hickam's three-building complex housing the active-duty 535th Airlift Squadron and the Hawaii Air National Guard's 204th Airlift Squadron becomes operational.
» Aug. 12: Hickam's $35 million C-17 cockpit simulator arrives.
» Aug. 18: Hickam's first C-17 cargo jet is blessed at Boeing's Long Beach plant.
» Yesterday: First of eight C-17 Globemaster jet cargo transports arrives at Hickam. The remaining will be sent to Hickam at a rate of one each month.
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
Inventory: Active duty, 118 squadrons; Air National Guard, eight
Friday, February 10, 2006
» The first C-17 Globemaster military cargo jet assigned to Hickam Air Force Base was christened "The Spirit of Hawaii - Ke Aloha." A story on Page A1 yesterday and a photo caption in yesterday's afternoon edition incorrectly listed the name as "The Spirit of Aloha - Ke Aloha."