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C-5M Super Galaxy unofficially sets 41 world records

by Capt. Marnee Losurdo
512th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

9/14/2009 - DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- A Dover aircrew flying a C-5M Super Galaxy, named The Spirit of Normandy, unofficially set 41 world records in a single flight, taking off from the base before dawn Sept. 13.

The results are pending certification by the National Aeronautic Association and should be finalized in about a month, said Kristan Maynard, the NAA official observer who documented the world record attempt. The NAA is the record-keeper for U.S. aviation.

The crew, composed of eight 512th Airlift Wing reservists and four 436th AW active-duty members, was led by Maj. Cory Bulris, the aircraft commander and 436th Operations Group Program Integration Office chief for the C-5M.

With a payload of about 178,000 pounds, the C-5M climbed to 12,000 meters in less than 28 minutes, setting the altitude, payload and time-to-climb records during the one-and-a-half-hour flight. Because they were successful, the records "trickled down" to the lighter payloads and lower altitudes.

"We are very proud of this accomplishment, and it displayed the capability of the C-5M, the Air Mobility Command's newest airlifter," said Major Bulris, who added that planning for this mission began almost two months ago.

To prepare for the record-breaking run, NAA officials weighed the aircraft, its fuel and cargo Sept. 11.

Mr. Maynard said he was impressed with the aircraft's record-breaking capability.

"This doesn't happen very often ... not in one flight," he said.

One of the records broken during the flight was previously held by the Russians who set it in 1989 with a Tupolev Tu-160 aircraft, said Mr. Maynard. It's one of the more significant records broken: the altitude attained in horizontal flight.

The C-5M crew also set a new record for the greatest mass carried to 2,000 meters, set by a C-17A Globemaster III in 1993. The crew also broke six other records previously held by the C-17.

A C-5M, which was used for the record-breaking flight, is a C-5 Galaxy that has received a modernized glass cockpit and avionics upgrade as part of the Avionics Modernization Program and new engines through the Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program.

The C-5 Galaxy, one of the world's largest aircraft, has been the backbone of America's strategic airlift fleet since the late 1960s. However, years of wear and tear impacted the C-5s' reliability rates. Yet testing revealed the C-5 fleet had 80 percent of its structural service life remaining. Rather than doing away with the aircraft, Lockheed Martin officials proposed a plan in September 1998 to update the C-5 Galaxy fleet with new avionics and engines.

These improvements are predicted to raise the aircraft's reliability levels.

"This aircraft is capable of significantly shorter take-offs than the previous (C-5) aircraft," said Lt. Col. Mike Semo, 709th Airlift Squadron pilot and C-5M Program Office chief." We are able to take more cargo farther distances with greater reliability. They've also vastly improved to a glass cockpit, which results in greater situational awareness for the pilots. There are upgrades to navigation, safety equipment, communications and a new autopilot system. This really is a modern aircraft for a modern Air Force."

Current Air Force plans call for Lockheed Martin to deliver 52 C-5Ms by 2016. Dover currently has three C-5Ms.

While it's The Spirit of Normandy that is set to go down in the record books, future C-5Ms are sure to make a name for themselves as they continue to carry supplies and combat-ready military units around the globe at any time.

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