MARTINSBURG — Weeks ahead of schedule, the West Virginia Air National Guard’s 167th Airlift Wing launched its first C-17 Globemaster III local training flight at its base in Martinsburg on Dec. 18.
It was a testament to the dedication and professionalism the wing’s airmen continue to show as they embrace the unit’s new mission with the C-17.
“The fact that this sortie was able to happen ahead of schedule and without a hitch is a tribute to the hard work of all those who have been working this conversion over the last year,” said Capt. Justin S. McCabe, who piloted the C-17 along with Lt. Col. Lisa Windle and Capt. Christopher K. Nary.
Shortly after 11 a.m. the aircraft lifted off the runway westbound on the wing’s historic flight. Chief Master Sgt. Leslie Y. Morris and Master Sgt. Charles R.D. Moore, mission loadmasters assigned to the flight, rounded out the five-member crew.
The initial flight training mission lasted nearly two hours with the C-17 flying as far as Pennsylvania and then heading back to Martinsburg airspace where it made a series of routine touch and goes on the base’s runway.
“A lot of different moving parts go into getting just one training mission off of the ground and this trial run gave us a good indication on where we stood,” McCabe said. “There are a lot of different agencies working behind the scenes.”
McCabe attributed the success of the flight to support efforts from sections across the wing to include maintenance, airfield management, aircrew flight equipment, command post and the logistics readiness squadron.
The pilot lauded all of the hard work accomplished to bring the wing’s first C-17 flight to fruition.
Nary couldn’t have agreed more.
“It’s quite an accomplishment from ops (operations) to maintenance and all of the supporting functions,” Nary echoed of being able to launch the wing’s first C-17 flight ahead of schedule.
McCabe said the C-17 “handled great.”
He noted that particular aircraft had not flown “in quite a while” and that can sometimes lead to maintenance issues.
“That was not the case today,” McCabe said. “The Martinsburg maintenance team lived up to their stellar reputation and gave us a tremendous aircraft, ahead of the original timeline no less.”
Lt. Col. Stuart W. Brown, deputy commander of the wing’s operations group, pointed out that the wing has transitioned itself in the past decade not only from the C-130 to the C-5 but also now to the C-17.
Brown said the first local training flight of the wing’s new aircraft was “a culmination of all of the efforts in the conversion process.”
“We still have a few things to iron out,” Brown said, but added that “(We are) happy at how well the sortie went yesterday.”
The 167th received its first C-17 on Sept. 25 courtesy of the 164th Airlift Wing in Memphis, Tenn. A crew based there flew the aircraft to Martinsburg where it was accepted by Col. Shaun Perkowski, commander of the 167th.
A total of eight C-17 aircraft are expected to be assigned to the 167th with the last one expected to be delivered in July.
(Grebenstein is a public affairs specialist for the 167th Airlift Wing.)