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News > Prodigal aircraft returns home
Prodigal aircraft returns home

Posted 10/7/2011   Updated 10/13/2011 Email story   Print story


by Capt. Matt Wunderlich
345th Airlift Squadron

10/7/2011 - Keesler Air Force Base, Miss. -- The beginning of October brought to close a chapter started over a decade ago when the first of two C-130J aircraft rolled off the production line and was delivered to the 403rd Wing as the newest model.

"Frankenstein," the 815th and 345th Airlift Squadrons' term of endearment for Tail 8151 returned home after serving as a training aircraft for new C-130J pilots and loadmasters at Little Rock AFB, Ark.

For 1st Lt. Scott Schavrien, 345th AS pilot, being a part of the crew that brought the plane home was a good experience.

"Bringing the tail back was great to see," said Schavrien. "The aircraft is two pallet positions shorter and handles differently so, it was interesting to see the differences in the aircraft operation."

The shorter aircraft offers unique aircraft operation challenges to both pilots and loadmasters.

As a 345th AS loadmaster, Airman 1st Class Phillip Rogers is responsible for some of the integral aspects of tactical airlift.  According to him, having two less pallet positions poses a challenge to how the aircraft is rigged for airdrop as well as how cargo and passengers are loaded onboard. 

Despite the challenge, Rogers was proud to be part of the crew that brought 8151 home. "It was a great opportunity to receive the aircraft," he said.

For the 403rd Wing's commander, Col. Jay Jensen, being the mission commander charged with bringing Tail 8151 home was personal.

"It was an honor to bring back home the first Air Force C-130J and also one of the original aircraft that I flew at the factory in the C-130J test program," he said. "For me, being back behind the controls of Tail 8151 brought the journey I started with the J model, full-circle."

Tail 8151 is the first of two aircraft to be moved from Air Education and Training Command to Air Force Reserve Command, effectively increasing the tactical airlift capability of the squadrons by 20 percent. The second aircraft is in depot undergoing modifications and is expected to be delivered to the 403rd Wing by the end of 2011.

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