Big aircraft lands on short runway
December 24, 2013
WHEELER ARMY AIRFIELD, Hawaii (Dec. 20, 2013) -- A C-17 Globemaster III piloted by Air Force Col. Michael Merritt, commander, 15th Operations Group, 15th Wing, landed, here, on a runway mostly used for helicopters, Dec. 16.
The arrival and departure of the huge, jet engine cargo aircraft was the end result of four months of planning by the 5th Battlefield Coordination Detachment (BCD) assigned to the 15th Air Wing at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
What's unique about the Wheeler runway is that it is only 5,600-feet long, much shorter than the one the C-17 took off from, explained Sgt. 1st Class Eric Pettengill, ground liaison officer (GLO).
Pettengill said Merritt brought up the subject of a joint service exercise in September to validate the deployment process, setting into motion the coordination required to make the exercise useful for the Army and Air Force.
"I approached the 25th Infantry Division to see if it was something they wanted to do," said Pettengill. "It was, and Dec. 16 was the best date that worked out for both parties."
Soldiers and humvees awaited the arrival to load up. The road at the western edge of the runway was briefly closed for safety, and groups of Soldiers and Airmen traded takeoff and landing experiences in Afghanistan as the C-17 approached.
Capt. Adam Thompson, GLO officer in charge, 5th BCD, was on board while Pettengill managed final arrangements on the tarmac.
The huge Globemaster, easily spotted miles away against the backdrop of blue sky, grew larger as it approached from the south, first banking west toward the mountains and then sharply to the east as it descended on approach.
The landing looked textbook perfect as the C-17 touched down and braked to a stop.
"That was a short runway," said Thompson afterwards.
The C-17 then backed up the runway under its own power to take on the troops and vehicles.
"The 15th Wing continues our partnership with 25th ID, with our joint base partnership, here, on the island," said Merritt. "This is just one more way in which we are able to increase our opportunities to train together and grow our partnership."
"This took a long time to plan, but it was well worth the time and effort put into it," said Pettengill. "With the coordination between 25th ID, 15th Wing and the 5th BCD, we were able to execute this mission with great success."