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Reserve wing welcomes change to flying mission

by Tech. Sgt. Charles K. Miller
445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

10/7/2005 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) -- The 445th Airlift Wing received its first of 11 C-5 Galaxy aircraft Oct. 3.

Air Force Reserve Command wings do not change aircraft very often, and the 445th AW is no exception, having flown C-141 Starlifters since the wing’s activation Oct. 1, 1994. All that will soon be history.

The C-141s are being retired, and the C-5s are replacing them. The transition should be complete by June.

When the first C-5 arrived here, about 350 people, military and civilian, turned out for a ceremony celebrating the wing’s new flying mission.

“Today, we exchange one old war bird for another old war bird,” said Brig. Gen. Bruce Davis, 445th AW commander, referring to exchanging 40-year-old C-141s for 35-year-old C-5s.

After delivering his remarks at the ceremony, General Davis led a group of 20 people onto the C-5 where he swore them in to the Air Force Reserve and the 445th AW.

“This is the first time we’ve ever done anything like this,” said Master Sgt. Thomas Zwelling II, of the 445th AW Reserve recruiting section. “The new Airmen really enjoyed it. It’s not every day a general swears you in. We at the recruiting office have been gearing up for this for a month.”

After the enlistment ceremony, people were given a chance to walk up one of the two aircraft ramps and tour the C-5. Many climbed up to the flight deck and the passenger area. They also toured the upper deck of the plane, checking out the cockpit, crew quarters and the windowless passenger area that is similar to commercial airliners.

“I’ve taken my 4-year-old son to the (National Museum of the Air Force) several times, but this was the first time he’s stepped inside an in-service aircraft,” said Ernie Sigler, an information technology program manager for the National Air and Space Intelligence Center’s communication and information directorate here.

“I saw this as a golden opportunity to give him a hands-on experience with the aircraft. I wanted him to see the Air Force for its full-spectrum mission, not just in a fighter or bomber role,” Mr. Sigler added. “We were both very impressed. I’m excited that these increased capabilities are now available to our forward-deployed personnel through the 445th AW. They will come in very handy.”

Another person thrilled to see the C-5 was Tech. Sgt. Clarine Blakely of the 445th Logistics Readiness Squadron.

“It gave me goose bumps,” Sergeant Blakely said. “The idea of seeing something that huge land -- it was truly awesome. I feel fortunate to be part of the 445th. The new taskings for this wing will be interesting, and I’m really looking forward to flying in the C-5.”

The C-5 is one of the largest aircraft in the world. Its cargo area can accommodate six Greyhound buses. First built in the late 1960s, it was designed to provide strategic airlift for deployment and supply of combat and support forces.

“With a wing span of 222 feet, it is capable of moving 291,000 pounds of cargo as far as 1,530 nautical miles or 180,000 pounds of cargo as far as 3,200 miles,” said Col. Brian Dominguez, 445th AW vice commander, during his address to the crowd. “To reach these distances, it has 12 integrated wing fuel tanks that hold 51,150 gallons of fuel.”

One of the unique features of the C-5 is its ability to kneel from its normal stance of 10 feet to just 3 feet off the ground. This allows drive-on and drive-off loading and unloading from the front and the rear.

“Although we will miss the dearly loved C-141, we do embrace the change,” Colonel Dominguez said. “The C-5 will bring us a new mission transporting cargo and people all over the world. We look forward to the change and the challenges that are ahead.” (Courtesy of AFRC News Service)

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