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Westover to resume limited flight operations; base access still restricted

WESTOVER AIR RESERVE BASE, Mass. --

After a stand down of more than 60 days, the 439th Airlift Wing is planning to resume limited flight operations this week.   

Col. Craig C. Peters, 439th AW commander, made the decision to return the massive C-5Ms to the sky after consulting with base maintenance and operations leadership, as well members of the wing’s Emergency Management Working Group.  The decision comes in conjunction with Westover’s Health Protection Condition moving from Delta to Charlie.  However, the Public Health Emergency Col. Peters declared on 19 March remains in effect.

“While we are not returning to a normal flying schedule, we will begin limited, local flying to allow our aircrews to regain proficiency.” said Peters. “Since our aircraft have been on the ground for an extended period of time, our maintainers have encountered a demanding list of actions to perform to get our aircraft ready to fly. They have done a tremendous job in handing off fully mission capable and safe aircraft to our flyers - all while ensuring personal protection measure and physical distancing directives were followed”

Col. David C. Post, 439th Maintenance Group commander, has led the effort to ensure the safe return of the C-5Ms to the sky and allow them to perform their vital national mission.  His team of specialists have successfully endeavored the return of aircraft to Fully Mission Capable status.

“As keepers of the Super Galaxy, our maintainers have experienced a rather unique situation; our aircraft have never remained static for such a long period of time.  Aircraft always perform better when routinely flown, and this is especially true of the C-5M. Rest assured, our maintainers have utilized their skills and tools to thoroughly inspect the aircraft ensuring they are ready when called upon.” he said.

Col. Neil Hede, 439th Operations Group commander, said aircrew flying skills are perishable, so it is critical to the wing’s mission to get the pilots, flight engineers, and loadmasters back into the air as soon the aircraft are ready.  

“Our citizen airmen flight crews are eager to return, and we can’t wait to have our iconic aircraft back over the skies of Western Massachusetts,” he added.

“An additional reason for resuming local flying is that we want to have a visible way to show solidarity with the city of Chicopee and other surrounding communities, as well as thanking these towns for their on-going support in these challenging times.”  Peters added.