September 18, 2008 (by SSgt. Catharine Schmidt) - On September 10 a 105th Airlift Wing C-5 Galaxy from Newburgh, New York, landed here with precious cargo - a training fuselage of C-130A #56-0550 that the 143rd AW in Rhode Island no longer needed. It was the first time a non-modified C-5 had carried this cargo.
QUONSET POINT, R.I. -- A C-130 training fuselage is loaded onto a C-5 for transport to Stratton Air National Guard Base, N.Y. The New York unit will use the aircraft for training purposes. This was the first time a C-5 transported a C-130 fuselage.
The fuselage was brought here to provide more training opportunities for guardsmen. Getting the C-130 onto the C-5 was no easy feat; it took more than two years of careful planning to make this happen.
"About two-and-a-half years ago it was mentioned that Rhode Island received their J-models, and that this aircraft was no longer applicable for training their crews," said Master Sgt. Glen Preece, a loadmaster with the 139th Airlift Squadron here. "Rhode Island checked on a few things and said 'OK, if you guys can transport it, you can have it.'"
Sergeant Preece began doing the legwork to get things started.
"I was asked to go out and took a look at the trainer to see if I could take the wings off of it," he said. He and a crew were able to cut the wings off and towed it to Rhode Island's flightline. He also approached the 105th AW about getting the actual C-5 to transport the training fuselage. The Guard unit agreed to help out.
The most challenging part of the process Sergeant Preece faced was obtaining a certification letter from Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He needed to prove that transporting the C-130 would be possible.
"I explained to them about the hydraulic unit we installed to lower the nose gear to prove that we could raise the mains and deflate the struts to get it to sit low enough," he said. "And then we had to build a shoring kit which was monstrous.
Building the shoring kit took about three weeks, and Tech. Sgt. Brian Irvin, another 139th AS loadmaster, helped figure out how they would build the kit.
"I would estimate that the entire shoring kit weighs about 22,000 pounds," Sergeant Irvin said. "The shoring kit angles and how we stepped it up was a lot of math and mental work. We had to get the fuselage approaching the C-5 at approximately the same angle as the C-5 floor. With such small clearance, if you're going in off-angle it's not going to work. It had to be very precise. We got copies of the flight manuals of the C-5 and we built the shoring kit to match that."
Sergeant Preece received the OK from Wright-Pat and all the hard work and preparation was finally tested Sept. 8 when the crew went down to Rhode Island to load the training fuselage.
"It went very smoothly loading the plane," Sergeant Preece said. "They gave us an eight-hour timeframe, and I think we did the whole thing in four hours."
"There was a lot of planning, I think we did a very good job anticipating as much as we could possibly ahead of time," Sergeant Irvin said. "Any time you are loading something that big with a couple inches to spare in clearance, there are going to be things you didn't think of.
"The shoring kit worked exactly as we wanted it to," Sergeant Irvin said.
The next step was transporting it here and unloading it. That ended up being a little more difficult than loading the plane.
"Where the C-5 parked I knew immediately that it wouldn't work," Sergeant Preece said. "So we went and walked around and we found a spot that did work. This time it took about six hours to offload.
"Safety and not damaging the C-5 were paramount," he said. "Once the C-130 got just outside the C-5, there was a ramp made for the nose gear, and getting that to track was a little difficult at first.
But with the help of guardsmen around the base, they were able to unload the aircraft with no major mishaps.
After maintainers work to get the aircraft up to training standards, many units will be able to use the aircraft at any time for training.
"This is going to be hugely invaluable for the base, it's going to be used for loadmasters, aeromeds, aerial port, and maintenance will be able to do some OJT on it by just getting it fixed up," Sergeant Irvin said.
"Some people from outside may not see it, but in the wintertime most of our aircraft are deployed," said Sergeant Preece. (The 109th Airlift Wing is home to the LC-130s, ski-equipped aircraft to aid in the unit's arctic missions.) "The aircraft that aren't deployed in the winter are really tied up in maintenance. So there's no aircraft availability sometimes; this will be available 365 days a year, 24/7 for anybody that needs it.
"(Transporting a C-130 on a C-5) has never been done before, so the fact that it was done safely without any major mishaps was an accomplishment in itself," said Master Sgt. Michael Peck, another 139th AS loadmaster who was part of the crew that transported the fuselage. "The teamwork from all the units and from everyone here was remarkable."
"It was just a remarkable job done by everyone," said Chief Master Sgt. Dennis Morgan, loadmaster superintendent with the 139th AS. "We had a lot of people involved, to include ops and maintenance. The support was outstanding. We couldn't have done it without the 105th at Stewart. They were outstanding to work with. It was really a joint Guard effort." .