At an altitude of about 6,000 ft. a sudden, brief turbulence left some of us scrambling for support when the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III hit an air pocket somewhere over Bangalore.
We were ambling around the aircraft’s innards, studying its finer details when we were jolted back to, well, the air.
“There’s lot of cloud, that is why there’s some turbulence. Otherwise the aircraft flies smoothly,” said technical sergeant Jerome Thomas, a loadmaster on board, minutes after the aircraft demonstrated a steep landing at the Air Force Station, Yelahanka.
Deal with Boeing
“On our missions, we have carried a lot of stuff — vehicles and helicopters among others on the C-17,” said Mr. Thomas, who has been on missions to Iraq and Afghanistan, providing details on the Globemaster that will equip the Indian armed forces. In 2011, India signed a $4.1 billion deal with Boeing to supply 10 aircraft.
During the half-hour demonstration flight, Maj. Kenneth Kirkpatrick and co-pilot Captain Chris Ross conducted manoeuvres, including a couple of 360 degree turns, steep landing and backing among others. The Globemaster has a modest seating arrangement for 54 people, leaving a huge space in the centre where the floor can be flipped to make changes — either to move cargo and reconfigure seats. Loadmaster Thomas demonstrated the operation of the ramp. “The aircraft has a capacity to carry 77 tonnes of cargo and has a range of 5,000 to 7,000 km, depending on wind, temperature and weight. The cruise speed of the aircraft is .76 Mach,” said Marc E. Caudill. The seating capacity can be reconfigured up to 184 depending on the need.
‘Honour to fly it’
Captain Angela Kimler, another pilot on board, said: “It is an honour to be flying the Globemaster and it’s doing a great job. It is also giving [us] many opportunities to participate in various missions.” The young captain has been flying the C-17 since 2007 and has been on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan that included medical evacuation, cargo and movement of people. “At least 10 per cent of the flying crew of Globemaster are women,” she added.
The Globesmaster has been flown down here by a demonstration team of the Pacific Air Force based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, led by Maj. Kenneth Kirkpatrick of 535th Airlift Squadron.
It is one of the nine Globemasters at the base. It took the 16-member team nearly 20 hours to reach Bangalore after a stopover at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan. The flight has a call sign “Reach” on international missions and “Slew” at the home station.
Boeing, in a release, said the C-17’s unique ability to fly long distances, and land in remote airfields in rough terrains and landlocked regions, makes it the premier transporter for military, humanitarian and peacekeeping missions.