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The C-17 Journey Starts in Charlotte

  • Published
  • By by Tech. Sgt. Julianne M. Showalter
  • 145th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
An 18-month journey of change came to a head when two C-17 Globemaster III aircraft landed and taxied onto the ramp for a welcoming crowd of over 2,500 distinguished guests, Airmen, retirees, family and friends for an Arrival Ceremony. The ceremony honored not only the arrival, but also the dedicated work which every member of the 145th Airlift Wing put in to make the transition a reality.

“It’s been a long process with setbacks, and sometimes we didn’t know what to expect coming into work. But we took steps forward and went with it so, in the long run, those planes could land and make it all worth it,” said Senior Airman Brett Barber, 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron.

The 145th Airlift Wing was selected to transition from the C-130 Hercules aircraft to the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, and the airframe will carry the units airlift mission into the future.

“It all began when we started divesting the C-130s, and it really hit home that we were transitioning to C-17s. Once we got together our transition teams, we started to go out to these units to train and see the best way to go about gaining these airframes,” said Senior Master Sgt. Anthony Freeman of the 145th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and production superintendent overseeing the maintenance transition.

Freeman also flew on the first C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to land, and he said, “It’s an exciting moment to work with the units we received the aircraft from, and then to fly in on the first jet. It’s a big deal, and I’ve never seen that many people in our hangar. It was jam-packed.”

The first two aircraft of eight were previously assigned to the active duty wings at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.

One of the airframes is painted with a white memorial tail flash and banner over the crew door to commemorate the units 70-year anniversary being a part of the U.S. Air Force from March 18, 1948 to March 18, 2018.

“I’m used to seeing C-130, so to see the C-17 taxi, I thought, ‘Man those are big aircraft.’ Seeing the anniversary tail flash on the side was surreal and really cool for me too,” said Barber.

On the way from Joint Base Charleston, S.C., the two airframes flew over the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, N.C. The Wright brother’s first flight in December 1903 took place at the outer banks in N.C., and it was often referred to as the “Epic Flight.” The 145th Airlift Wing has adopted ‘EPIC’ as their call sign.

“It’s important symbolism to fly where the Wright brothers flew. I saw the old C-130 picture flying over the memorial, and I’m excited to see the new picture of our C-17 flying over it. It shows the different phases of our aviation, “ said Freeman.

The 145th Airlift Wing has a long standing history in aviation spanning several different airframes, but the C-17 Globemaster III aircraft is its key to the future by providing greater flexibility, performance, and the capability for rapid strategic delivery of troops and all types of cargo to fulfill the worldwide air mobility requirements.

“I’m a fourth generation military member and so is my brother, and it’s interesting because the C-130s we got rid of were older than me. Now we’re getting C-17s, and in 25 years I hope to still be here. I’ll be able to say I was here when we first got this plane,” said Barber.