Patriot Wing teamwork soars during Total Force mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Andrew Biscoe
  • 439th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

A Patriot Wing crew teamed up Dec. 2 to criss-cross America while delivering a weather satellite to Florida during a four-day Total Force mission.

The GOES-S satellite, which weighed 6,000 pounds, was a light load for the C-5M, but Lockheed- Martin -- the satellite’s manufacturer -- had to transport it safely for its Dec. 4 trip from Buckley Air Force Base, Colo., to the Kennedy Space Center landing strip at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Crews nestled the satellite in a tractor-trailer that weighed 90,000 pounds.

“It feels good to contribute to a Total Force mission, “said Tech. Sgt. Brent Read, 439th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief. “And to be working with all these different people from Lockheed, NASA, and the loadmasters.”

Loading at Buckley took about five hours, which began very early Dec. 4. Read and one other crew chief and loadmasters arrived first, starting the pre-flight and securing and preparing the cargo compartment for the payload. Reserve Citizen Airmen and Lockheed crew members faced chilling winds that blew across the flight line at Buckley as they carefully moved the satellite into the belly of the Super Galaxy.

“It was extremely cold, so it was challenging to maintain a temperature in the aircraft to keep the integrity of the satellite,” Read said.
Crews constantly measured the distance between the C-5’s floor and the trailer’s body. Powerful winches from inside the aircraft gingerly pulled the satellite into the C-5’s 121-foot long cargo bay.

With the upload complete, the C-5M weighed in at 650,000 pounds on takeoff out of Buckley. The Total Force comprises Air Mobility Command’s fleet of active-duty, reserve and guard airlifters. AMC tasked the Westover crew with this mission.

“This sounded like a neat opportunity,” said Senior Airman Ashley Kostka, a 337th AS loadmaster, as she met with several southern Florida media outlets for interviews Dec. 4 near the C-5.

Three media members were also along for the mission from Buckley to Cape Canaveral. They included Meredith Garofalo and Benjamin Strauss with the WeatherNation network.

“These people are so hospitable,” Garofalo said of the aircrew, during an inflight visit to the C-5M cockpit.

“This makes me want to join the military,” Strauss added.

The mission originated Dec. 2 at Westover, with a near-four hour flight to Buckley, an Air Force Space Command base. Five more Patriot Wing Airmen joined the effort Dec. 5 to assist with the off-load. GOES-S, part of the next generation of weather satellites operated by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is expected to launch into space some time in early 2018. It traveled Dec. 5 from Kennedy Space Center to Astrotech Space Operations, its final home.