With the nickname of Barney, the last thing you associate with this plane is being sexy. But after 90 minute aboard this beast, even Fred would change his mind. Measuring 174 feet long with a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches and pumping out a fierce 161,760 pounds of thrust, I got a chance to ride with the C-17 West Coast Demo Team from the 452nd AMW at March AFB.
Flying directly in from March AFB, SLAM 86, piloted by Lt. Col. Tim Harris makes this plane dance like a ballerina on stage.
Negative SLAM 86, the pattern is full!!!
Once the plane finishes its orientation flights above the skies of Santa Rosa, it gracefully lands and taxis towards us. So the 20 or so other media and myself are escorted to the aircraft for a hot loading. That is when the aircraft does not shut it’s engines off and still we board the aircraft. After everyone gets strapped in, our uber cool PAO, Amy Abbott notifies me that I’ve been selected to sit in the cockpit jumpseat with the pilots for the take off. Having had the honor of working with the Demo team last year, I ran on up and greeted Tim and John.
Belts on, headset on, flaps down, engine to max, brakes released, and off we go!
Once we were in the air we could move around freely. The -17 is incredibly spacious and can fit 170,900 pounds of cargo.
Our proposed flight plan took us due west from Santa Rosa, CA towards the pacific, down the coast towards Monterey and back to Santa Rosa.
While this planes primary mission is to carry cargo, it is quite nimble for its size. Here we are in a 45 degree left turn to avoid traffic.
As our flight nears its end, we line up for Runway 14 at STS. With a length of 5115 feet and 150 feet wide, we have more then enough room to land this behemoth. The C-17 is capable of landing on runways as short as 3,500 feet and only 90 feet wide. As the rest of the media sit down, I am allowed to stand in the cockpit during landing. Yup! Stand! Seatbelts are soooo commercial airline.
Once we taxi to our spot and shut down, I get a chance to sit in the pilots seat. All the major information is visible from the heads up display or HUD.
And even though the flight is over, you still have to do a walk around and make sure nothing broke.
I just want to express gratitude to John, Paul, Stuart, Tanesha, Jen, and the whole C-17 crew for allowing to fly with them! And an extra special thanks to Tim Harris and Amy Abbott for helping me get these awesome shots and allowing me to be apart of the crew for the weekend.