At 16 years young, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III is the newest
and most versatile aircraft in the mobility fleet. And, according
to those who fly it, it is the best the Air Force has seen in its
60 years. "There's no doubt in my mind I fly the best transport
aircraft ever," said Major Wayne Manuel, director of operations for
the 817th Airlift Squadron's Detachment 1.
The C-17 flew its maiden flight on Sept. 15, 1991. According to
a Boeing Web site, it has broken 33 world records and won numerous
awards since that maiden flight. For the crews who fly it from
Manas, they just know the aircraft enables them to safely deliver
passengers and cargo into Afghanistan, delivering much needed
resources to the folks downrange.
"It's hard to believe, but it flies more like a fighter than (a
large transport)," said Capt Ryan Spodar, a pilot with 817 AS, Det.
1. The aircraft features a control stick instead of a yoke, a
heads-up display and other modern cockpit features.
But it was the maneuverability in a sizeable airlifter that Air
Force planners and engineers envisioned when they set their sights
on a new cargo aircraft. Features of the aircraft include elements
from all three of the most recent cargo workhorses: the C-130
Hercules, C-141 Starlifter and C-5 Galaxy. The result was a
mid-size cargo aircraft with strategic range that can carry
oversized equipment and operate on austere fields with shorter,
"Smartly, the military recognized the need to more swiftly
deploy forces and equipment beyond its current capabilities," said
Major Manuel, a command pilot with more than 2,600 hours flying the
The C-17 can back up under its own power, meaning it can
actually complete a driver's ed-style three-point turn to turn
around, even on narrow runways.
"This is one of the more unique aspects of the plane," said
Major Manuel, who is deployed to Manas from the 7th Airlift
Squadron, McChord Air Force Base, Wash. While this is normally a
capability utilized in more austere locations, it can also help on
parking configurations, like at Manas.
"Our aircraft here at Manas occupy ramp space at an
international airport. The parking layout doesn't allow you to pull
forward," said Major Manuel.
So aircraft at Manas back up in order to move ahead with their
mission of supporting coalition forces in Afghanistan.
The Operation Enduring Freedom missions flown from Manas add to
a long list of distinguished service for the C-17 fleet which has
also served in military operations Joint Endeavor (Bosnia), Allied
Force (Kosovo), and Iraqi Freedom.
There are currently 168 C-17s in the U.S. Air Force, and Great
Britain, Canada, and Australia have established C-17 forces of
When not deployed in support of humanitarian or combat
operations, C-17s can be seen stateside on the ramps of
active-duty, Guard and Reserve Air Force installations in South
Carolina, Washington state, Oklahoma, Delaware, California,
Mississippi, New Jersey, Alaska and Hawaii. [ANN Salutes Maj.
Adriane Craig, 376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs]