By Airman 1st Class Sadie Hewes, 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
/ Published June 09, 2017
Excitement buzzed on the Westover flight line June 2 as media, Airmen, and plane fanatics alike stood waiting for the arrival of the military’s largest aircraft.
Everything was in perfect place for its landing. A static C-5 loomed next to the control tower, awaiting retirement, and the fire engines were in place to christen the new C-5 as it landed.
All of a sudden, a low-pitched sound came from the distance. As it approached, it was hard to believe the quiet behemothin the sky was the first C-5M Super Galaxy to be assigned to Westover. As it swooped over the heads of its onlookers and circled back to make its landing, another aviation milestone was in the books.
The aircraft, which had been stationed at Westover in 2016 as a C-5B, was recently renovated and upgraded into a C-5M. It is the first of a fleet of eight, with the rest of the new models scheduled to arrive here by summer of 2018.
Designed by Lockheed-Georgia Co., the Super Galaxy lacks the distinctive whine known to the legacy cargo aircraft. However, it certainly isn’t lacking in its lifting capabilities. It has the capacity to carry 36 standard pallets and 81 troops simultaneously.
“This aircraft was built with a performance increase in mind and it delivers,” Lt. Col. Scott Kuhrt, instructor and C-5 aircraft commander, told reporters and public affairs staff, during a planeside interview. Indeed, with a maximum cargo weight of 270,000 pounds, the C-5M’s performance is unmatched by any other cargo aircraft. Additionally, the M-model consumes about 20 percent less fuel than previous models, and has the ability to fly up to 5,000 nautical miles without aerial refueling.
With the assistance of aerial refueling, the new model aircraft can travel worldwide.
“We can travel further, without making stops for fuel from the east coast to as far as Central Asia direct,” said Master Sgt. John Lyons, a loadmaster assigned to the 439th.
As the newest addition to the Westover family landed, it was taxied through towering arches of water, courtesy of the Westover fire department, before parking. As the crew departed the aircraft, they were greeted by their aircrew and maintenance wingmen line to congratulate them on their safe arrival.
"I feel lucky, I’m one of the few maintenance people here left that has actively worked on the old model aircraft,” said Master Sgt. Kevin Bowen, a crew chief assigned to the 439th Maintenance Squadron, during an interview with local media. “To be a part of this transition is a big deal.”
The Super Galaxy is sure to enhance mission readiness and performance at Westover as a new aviation chapter has been written for the base.
"What's happening today is one of the most significant aviation milestones in the 77-year history of this base,” said Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe, acting chief of the 439th Public Affairs office.
With a red tail stripe and Patriot logo freshly painted proudly on the tail of the aircraft, there's no doubt the C-5M will live up to its expectations. Westover’s C-5M will soon be formally named “The Spirit of Chicopee” during a dedication ceremony on base.
Editor's note: Please visit Westover's Facebook page for photos of the C-5M's arrival: https://www.facebook.com/westover.patriot