Tug of War: 911th Airlift Wing Brings Home New Tug

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Grace Thomson
  • 911th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Airmen from the 911th Airlift Wing went on a mission to Dobbins Air Force Base, Georgia to retrieve an aircraft tug for the new C-17 Globemaster III aircraft April 11, 2019.

The aircraft tug, a vehicle built to tow extremely heavy loads, is the first tug able to tow a C-17 at the 911th AW. This is just the next step to completing the aircraft fleet at the 911th AW. Slowly but surely, the C-17s are coming in and specialized equipment is being picked up.

Currently there are three C-17s on the flightline with five more to come before the 911th AW aircraft family is complete. During this time, the equipment for the C-17s is coming in from other bases and the base personnel are gaining experience in transporting and utilizing the equipment.

This aircraft tug retrieval was the perfect opportunity to get some hands-on training for the pilots and the loadmasters.

“It was good training for loadmasters to see that type of cargo because of the complexity of the size and the amount of weight,” said Staff Sgt. Carl Kocon, loadmaster with the 758th Airlift Squadron. “This is new for a location like this, and being able to apply proper restraint and following new procedures helped train newer loadmasters as well.”

The pilots had never flown with such a heavyload in a C-17 before and used this local mission to gain practice landing a heavily loaded plane. It was the first heavy weight flight these pilots have done in a C-17 that weighed approximately 70,000 pounds.

The loadmasters gained experience navigating the larger interior of the C-17 as well as the new angles of the ramps. Kocon was training an Airman fresh from technical school on proper procedures for loading and transporting heavy equipment.

The loadmasters had to use their ingenuity to load the tug as the angle of the ramp would have made the tug scrape the floor of the aircraft. They needed to find a way to adjust the angle so that the tug could get on safely.

Kocon had an idea to place wooden planks under the ramp to raise it and make it easier for the vehicle to climb into the aircraft.

After the tug came the 40,000 pound weights in eight separate pallets to serve as a counterbalance to the tug; otherwise, the front of the plane would have been much heavier than the back.

Once everything was on the plane, it was time to chain everything down and secure it for flight.

The flight back to the 911th AW was an uneventful one, yet pilots used this rare opportunity to get some training in of their own with heavyweight loads.

“It was fantastic training and we don’t get to do that training very often,” said Capt. Richard Bell, pilot with the 758th Airlift Squadron. “Being able to do heavyweight assaults just makes the aircraft feel different.”

Thought the aircraft tug does not complete the family just yet, it is another piece to the puzzle. As more aircraft and equipment come here the base will be on its way to finishing this conversion from C-130 Hercules to C-17 Globemaster III.