Iconic C-17 to fly over Sonoma
THE C-17 is one of the military's larger planes, and can be seen over Sonoma on the Fourth of July.
Sonoma will get an up close taste of military magnitude during the City of Sonoma's annual Fourth of July parade, hosted by the Sonoma Community Center, when an official C-17 of the 301st Airlift Squadron flies overhead, piloted by Lt. Col. Adam Willis, Maj. Troy Ogle, Maj. Caleb Provencio and Maj. Phil Dillingham.
The original 301st Troop Carrier Squadron formed at Sedalia Army Air Field, Mo., and flew the venerable Douglas C-47 "Skytrain" and Waco CG-4 "Hadrian" combat glider. Flying from Merryfield Airfield, England in 1944, the 301st air dropped elements of the 101st AB Division during the Operation Overlord invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.
By Oct. 1, 1969, the unit was assigned to the Air Force Reserve flying the C-141 Starlifter at Travis Air Force Base. In April 1973, the squadron converted to the C-5 Galaxy.
With the C-5, the 301st participated in every world crisis in which the United States Air Force was confronted. Some highlights were Operation Babylift and Freedomlift, the emergency evacuation of Vietnam, Operation Nickle Grass, the emergency airlift to Israel and support of combat operations in Lebanon and Grenada in 1983.
After Sept. 11, the 301st was mobilized and supplied critically needed airlift for Operation Enduring Freedom in the war on terrorism. Though demobilized Feb. 7, 2004, many squadron members volunteered for active duty supporting American efforts stabilizing a fledgling democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan. In spite of these challenges, the 301st was selected to lead the Travis Air Force Base conversion to the C-17 Globemaster III.
In 2006, the squadron no longer had C-5 crewmembers and moved toward a fully manned C-17 status. During 2006-07, the squadron supported the pick-up and delivery of 13 new C-17 airframes from the Boeing factory in Long Beach. The C-17 will often be seen over the runway at 10,000 feet and execute up to a 10,000 feet per minute descent to come in for an assault landing, then stop within 3,500 feet on the runway. This is an impressive maneuver that can be executed in complete darkness to a blacked out dirt runway.
The 301st also practices Air-to-Air Refueling with the KC-10 and KC-135 aircraft and low level navigation at 300 knots and 300 feet above ground level. As a fully qualified C-17 squadron, members volunteer for five to seven days a month of training to maintain proficiency and to transport troops and cargo.
Also on the aircraft is Master Sgt. Donna Milford, Technical Sgt. Ritta Dillon and John Neuburger, serving as loadmasters and safety observers for today's event. The C-17 is capable of taking off at weights up to 585,000 pounds and can land on runways as short as 3,000 feet. It lands on prepared and unprepared (dirt) runways throughout the world.
This particular airplane was built in 2006 and has over 3,000 hours on it. It has been used to deliver supplies and troops in both the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and also supporting other humanitarian and aero-medical missions throughout the world.