Eglin AFB’s joint C-5M aircraft load exercise wraps

  • Published
  • By Samuel King Jr.
  • Eglin Air Force Base Public Affairs

The 436th Airlift Wing, based out of Dover Air Force Base, Delaware, and the 96th Test Wing from Eglin AFB conducted unique training exercise recently where a 436th AW C-5M Super Galaxy flew to Eglin so base units could process and load their support vehicles onto the largest aircraft in the Air Force’s inventory. 

The vehicles, including the base’s new P-23 firetruck, a Humvee, a front-end loader, an ambulance and more, were weighed and measured by Eglin’s 96th Logistics Readiness Squadron aerial porters and then positioned and readied for load and mock transfer. 

Once the aircraft arrived and opened for loading, the vehicles and their drivers lined up for their turn to drive onto the C-5 through its gaping maw.  

The C-5 can be loaded from the front or back of the aircraft and can have a cargo load of 281,000 pounds, can fly 2,150 nautical miles, offload, and fly to a second base 500 nautical miles away from the original destination — all without aerial refueling. 

“This is a rare opportunity for Eglin Airmen to practice generating load plans and securing vehicles on the aircraft,” said Tech. Sgt. John Gordon, 96th LRS air operations NCO-in-charge, who helped coordinate the Eglin portion of the training operation. 

It was also a chance for firefighters, medics, fuels and the aerial porters to drive their primary vehicles onto an aircraft, many of them for the first time. 

“It was my first time loading a vehicle on to an aircraft, let alone the biggest aircraft, so there were some nerves, but good nerves,” said Airman Philip Nazario, a new 96th LRS aerial porter. “I just focused on the spotter, did one thing at a time and tried not make mistakes.” 

The C-5M Super Galaxy is a strategic transport aircraft and is the largest aircraft in the Air Force inventory. Its primary mission is to transport cargo and personnel for the Department of Defense.

When loading began, the 9th Airlift Squadron’s loadmasters took charge. They validated the order and location of the vehicles and marshalled them up and inside the aircraft.  

“The C-5 is designed for out-sized cargo and we aren't always utilized in this way, so to be able to train to and for that was a big win for us,” said Master Sgt. Monty West, 9th AS C-5M evaluator loadmaster. “Heavier weights and axels, like on the firetruck, was a great teaching opportunity for aircraft limitations since you can't just park it anywhere.” 

For the 9th AS’s loadmaster, Airman Wyatt Nagelkirk, this cargo load was his first.  

“The goal was to show him the basics of a cargo load and sequence of events that take place from the Dover take off, cargo upload/download and move on,” West said. 

Although Nagelkirk was there to shadow and observe, he led the marshalling and parking of the ambulance into the C-5.  It was a glimpse of what he will oversee during his career, according to West. 

When the opportunity for this training mission began, the Air Force invited the Army’s 7th Special Forces Group to participate. Soldiers brought two light tactical vehicles similar to Humvees and trained in the loading and vehicle-tie-down process with the Airmen. 

When each new vehicle was parked, loadmasters, aerial porters and Soldiers all pitched in to chain down and secure them to the floor of the C-5. Each different military specialty took turns to listen, learn and participate in the hands-on training.  The aerial porters also completed some chemical-biological training with two Airmen securing a vehicle while dressed in Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, and Explosives, or CBRNE, protective gear. 

More than 30 Airmen and Soldiers loaded, secured and then unloaded six vehicles weighing more than 150,000 pounds in just a few hours, helping to further the Air Force’s commitment to training Multi-Capable Airman who are faster, smarter and ready for the future fight.