Friday afternoon, Feb. 20, 2009.
It was kind of ironic that I drew two assignments in little more than a week to be out at Stewart Air National Guard Base near my home here in NY. For those that know me, you know already that I'm a former military guy - so that means I dig everything to do with heavy machinery, and particularly anything associated with aviation. Now combine the two out at the air base, throw in a few Air Force cargo aircraft that I was to photograph for separate stories, and you've got a guy feeling really good about being on the flight line. When I was on active duty (which seems at times like 100+ years ago) in the Marines, I flew quite a bit on training missions on 'smaller' Air Force cargo planes like the C-141 Starlifter and of course the ancient C-130, those propeller powered workhorses that have been flying since the Vietnam War. Been in a few helos too in my day, as well as all the Cessna and Piper airplanes I've been in recently, mostly for stories here close to home. But these two assignments allowed me to get up close and personal to largest cargo airplane the Air Force is flying, the monstrous C-5A. They don't call it a "Galaxy" for nothing.
Then on the following Friday, the 27th., I was back out at Stewart to witness a C-17 cargo aircraft arrive for a "Dog & Pony Show"
where the flight crew of a the newer cargo plane returned a few Stewart ANGB personnel from their base in Jackson, Mississippi.
The C-17 is the smaller, fuel efficient aircraft that the Air Force is turning to replacing it's aging fleet of C-5A's. The NY Air National Guard command here is waiting to hear from Washington if their fleet of C-5A's will eventually be replaced by the C-17's. There really isn't anything like the C-5A flying over our skies, so either way I know those big birds will be missed.
*Sorry, couldn't resist grabbing this image on the flight deck of the newer C-17. -cg.