DOVER AIR FORCE BASE, Del. -- Seven C-5B Galaxy and C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft from Dover Air Force Base, Del., took off between Oct. 14 and Oct. 20 as part of a United States Transportation Command-wide 41-plane C-5 surge. The historic surge of the nation's largest military airlifters exercised the ability to fly cargo in support of combatant commanders across the globe.
Team Dover, one of two active-duty bases participating in the surge, provided all seven of their aircraft. Six of the aircraft were inspected and mobilized within 36 hours by the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Oct. 14 through Oct. 15. Six were flown out of Dover AFB by the 9th Airlift Squadron between Oct. 15 and Oct. 18. The last plane is scheduled to take off Oct. 20 and will be flown by the 709th Airlift Squadron.
"This is the third straight month we've had to mobilize our fleet," said Maj. Justin Radford, operations officer for the 436th AMXS. "It's amazing when you go out there during one of these exercises or real world evacuations -- all the engines on the flightline running, the trucks going back and forth -- it gives you goose bumps."
The process includes an approximate 10-hour work-up per plane. The plane is inspected from top to bottom, fueled and stocked with everything, inspected again, then cleared to fly. The 436th AMXS followed what they call a generation-flow plan.
The generation-flow plan ensures aircraft undergoing inspections are situated next to each other on the flightline. Specialist can then service each plane subsequently like an assembly line. Crew chiefs conduct pre-flight inspections followed by special teams, such as nitro, liquid oxygen, or aircrew flight equipment.
The 436th AMXS doubled their shift on Oct. 14 to accomplish the generation-flow plan.
"Every aircraft inspection starts an hour after the other," said Radford. "This is what we do on a daily basis. This operation requires coordination with agencies throughout the wing, including the 436th Operations Support Squadron, the 436th Logistics Readiness Squadron, the 436th Aerial Port Squadron and the 9th."
Once the aircraft were inspected and prepared, the pilots, loadmasters and flight engineers from the 9th were put on alert.
"We are always prepared to put up to 10 - 12 crews 'on the road' at any time," said Lt. Col. David Herbison, operations officer with the 9th AS. "This is a welcome challenge for us."
The only differences from normal operations are the destinations for the C-5s, said Herbison. Picking up missions, typically flown by C-17 Globemaster IIIs, gives the 9th a chance to visit a few places out of the ordinary.
A few C-5M Super Galaxys will be headed for Thumrait Air Base, Oman, which was previously only flown to by the C-17.
"The goal was to see how the airlift system would handle an injection of a lot of C-5s," said Herbison. "This will allow us to look at the lessons learned and improve our system."