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Dover Reserve squadron flies final C-5 flight

by 1st Lt. Marnee A.C. Losurdo
512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

3/13/2007 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. (AFNEWS) -- The 326th Airlift Squadron, a unit in the Air Force Reserve Command's 512th Airlift Wing here, flew its final C-5 Galaxy flight March 10.

The squadron converts to the C-17 Globemaster III mission April 1.

The base's first C-17 arrives in June and it will receive 12 more of the aircraft over the course of two years. The base will keep 18 of its original 36 C-5s.

The 326th AS has been flying the C-5 since it arrived at Dover in 1973. Their sister squadron, the 709th Airlift Squadron, will continue to fly the C-5.

"It's a great moment in history for the 326th AS," said Lt. Col. Louis Patriquin, who has 3,000 flying hours on the C-5 and was the aircraft commander on the final flight. "The squadron has been flying the C-5 for 34 years, and today we're starting a new chapter adding the C-17."

It was a bittersweet moment, said Lt. Col. Rob Shepherd, 326th AS commander. He too has flown 3,000 hours in the C-5 and is currently attending C-17 school at Altus Air Force Base, Okla.

"The C-5 has been good to me," he said. "I have a long history with the aircraft and have made a lot of great memories. It's taken me all over the world."

Colonel Shepherd will continue those travels in the C-17, adding he's excited about the new aircraft arriving at Dover.

"It's an exciting time for the squadron," he said. "It's like getting handed the keys to your dad's new sports car. It's a great aircraft and paired up with the C-5 it will make a great team."

"That's the beauty of Dover's airlift team; we will be able to leverage the strengths of both weapon systems in one fight," added Lt. Col. Craig LaFave, chief of the 512th AW Program Integration Office. "Nothing in the world can haul cargo like the C-5; it can clear out even the busiest aerial ports. The Galaxy can haul 36 pallets and land at a forward base with longer runways. In contrast, the C-17 can carry up to 18 pallets and, like the C-5, can haul out-sized cargo. However, the C-17 has the ability to take its load to more austere and unimproved airfields."

The C-17 can land on a 3,500-foot dirt runway, taxi backwards out of tight parking spots, and can combat offload its cargo under fire. The C-17 can fly at 300 feet at high speed, and with the assistance of night vision goggles, crews can land on blacked-out assault zones.

Until the first C-17 arrives, the 326th AS aircrew members who have completed C-17 school are flying the aircraft at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., and Jackson Air National Guard Base, Miss., Colonel LaFave said. Several squadron members are currently in C-17 school, and all squadron members should complete the school by next year. It takes 100 days to train each crewmember, but up to 18 more months to fully season instructors and flight examiners.

The active duty unit here, the 436th Airlift Wing, also begins conversion in April. The wing's 3rd Airlift Squadron will fly the C-17 and its sister squadron, the 9th AS will continue to fly the C-5. 

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