TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Travis Air Force Base’s first C-5M Super Galaxy arrived at its new home Thursday to be greeted by the pilots looking forward to flying it and the maintainers looking forward to taking care of it.
For the fliers, it’s because the re-engined jet transport is now able to take off using less runway, climb faster, carry more cargo and fly farther than its predecessor, the C-5B and C-5A.
“It is amazing. It is like adding an extra engine,” said pilot Lt. Col. Jeremy Geaslin. “We can fly farther and longer now.”
For the maintainers and flight engineers, it is a much more reliable and efficient aircraft to take care of, allowing them to ensure that the C-5 can take off for missions on time and spend fewer resources fixing C-5s that broke down while deployed overseas.
“It is very user-friendly and saves us a lot of manhours,” said Tech. Sgt. Marcus Carrion of the 349th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.
Carrion, along with Tech. Sgt. Chad Kruger and Tech. Sgt. Robert Trask, both with the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, were handed the keys to C-5M No. 70042 by a proud 60th Air Mobility Wing commander, Col. Corey Martin.
That came moments after Martin and 349th Air Mobility Wing vice commander Col. Patrick Williams were ceremonially given the keys by Lt. Gen. Brooks Bash, vice commander of Air Mobility Command, who personally flew the C-5M to Travis from the Lockheed Aircraft facility in Marietta, Ga.
This is not the first C-5M to land at Travis. The base played host to a couple of loaner C-5Ms from Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, to allow both aircrews and maintenance personnel to train and familiarize themselves on.
Travis’ first assigned C-5M arrived on engines that sounded like a whisper compared to the ones they replace, while local civic leaders and Travis service members looked on from seats in front of the base passenger terminal.
The C-5M Super Galaxy is the child of the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program that started in 2006 and involved putting in new General Electric engines, pylons and auxiliary power units. It also involved improving aircraft skin and frame, landing gear, cockpit and pressurization systems.
This new engine generates 22 percent more thrust, allowing the C-5M to make a shorter takeoff, a faster rate of climb on takeoff, carry more cargo and have a longer range.
This followed a few years after the C-5 Avionics Modernization Program significantly upgraded the aircraft’s avionics and delivered the first modified aircraft in 2002.
These improvements will allow the C-5 to continue serving the Air Force as its front-line strategic airlifter beyond 2040.
Bash called the C-5M “a critical component” to plans for protecting American and allied countries’ interests in the Pacific and around the world.
Martin pointed out that the C-5M’s arrival was an important milestone in Travis’ 44-year relationship with the large airlifter. C-5M No. 70042 also had the distinction before its modification of being the first C-5 to land on the sea ice in the Antarctic.
“Now it is here making history again,” Martin said.
The Travis service members who flew and worked on C-5s had nothing but praise for the aircraft. Maj. Ash Cannon, commander of the 60th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, said the new systems are much easier to work on, which allows maintainers to troubleshoot problems much faster.
“It is a lot more automated,” said 22nd Airlift Squadron flight engineer Master Sgt. Timothy Piscitelli, who called the upgrades “a great improvement.”
The first 16 C-5Ms were delivered to Air Mobility Command in February. Those were assigned to Dover Air Force Base. The Air Force plans to modify 52 C-5s to become C-5Ms.
So far, only one 22nd Airlift Squadron aircrew is trained to fly the C-5M, but that is going to change for all of the C-5 squadrons. Travis is expecting to get its second C-5M some time this fall.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.