January 4, 2014 (by Maj. Bryon Turner) - The 103rd Airlift Wing reached a historic milestone when it launched the first locally-generated sortie with one of the unit's newly-assigned C-130H Hercules aircraft on Dec. 19, 2013.
Aircrew aboard a C-130H #74-2134 assigned to the 103rd AW prepare to taxi moments before conducting the first locally-generated sortie with the unit’s new airframe at Bradley ANGB, on December 19, 2013. [ANG photo by Maj. Bryon Turner]
The Flying Yankees took flight shortly before 17:00hrs, soaring off into a stunning winter sunset over the Bradley Air National Guard Base with a local aircrew augmented by members of the New York Air National Guard and a member of the U.S.A.F.
"It was very exciting to be a part of the first local launch," said Senior Master Sgt. Bill Westling, a flight engineer assigned to the 118th Airlift Squadron. "From the preflight to takeoff without any hiccups is a testament to the team effort from maintenance and ops."
The composite crew was required to fill critical roles aboard the C-130H as members of the Connecticut Air National Guard continue to train for the new mission.
Maintainers and aircrew deftly completed final adjustments moments before take-off as other Airmen, drawn to the wintery flightline, watched this historic moment unfold before their eyes with great anticipation.
"Being in the seat for engine start with familiar faces on our own flightline was exciting," said Maj. Joshua Panis, a pilot assigned to the 118th Airlift Squadron. "The fact that we were able to get airborne on our first attempt at a locally launched C-130 line speaks mountains to the amount of time, effort and training that everyone on base has dedicated themselves to in support of our new mission."
With the next C-130H aircraft scheduled to arrive in January, followed by four additional aircraft, and more trained aircrew members returning to Connecticut in the weeks and months to come, the flightline and the skies above are poised for increased activity and the Flying Yankees are ready.
"I look forward to the future here at Bradley," said Westling.