The C-17 is, by far, my favorite airplane. I know it isn't as big as the Lockheed C-5 Galaxy,
so it doesn't have as much 'awe' factor as the C-5 does when you talk about size and weight (not to mention the Russian/Ukranian
An-124 or An-225), but the C-17 can be right over you before you hear it, instead of hearing its engines grinding 10 miles
away as is the case with the C-5. But what's not to love about a plane that can descend as fast as 20,000 feet
per minute (227 MPH vertically, bet that'll make your ears pop!), can carry 169,000 pounds of cargo, 27,000 gallons (181,000
pounds) of fuel making for a maximum takeoff weight of 585,000 pounds, can takeoff and land on a 3,000 foot runway, and
requires a crew of only 3 (2pilots and a loadmaster)! It is 174 feet long, and has a wingspan of 169.8 feet, to
give you a better idea of its size by looking at the pics in the link above, the winglets (up-turned parts at the wingtips)
are 9.2 feet tall. By the way, it is one of the few planes that can go in reverse uphill (max 2% grade).
For me, flying the C-17 for the Air Force is my top career goal (besides flying for an airline
or something like that afterwards). I've been in the full-motion, swear-you-are-really-flying (if I wasn't buckled in,
I would have fallen out of my seat when another person was at the controls and had a serious over-control problem) simulator
at Altus AFB twice, and got to take the controls once. That first time in the simulator and getting to "fly" it around
the pattern is when I realized just how awesome this big bird is. You can either program the autopilot to do all the
work (from flying in formation to dropping your cargo), or you can put one hand on the throttle levers, the other on the stick,
and look through the HUD (heads-up display) for all your necessary flight information (these last 2 items are common for fighters, not
I guess for you to truely understand what I'm talking about, you would have to get up close
to one, walk around inside its cargo bay, and then climb up into the cockpit and take a good look at it as a pilot tells you
about what everything does and the plane's capabilities.
One thing about the C-17 that I didn't know up until just a few weeks ago is something that
I have been wondering about for quite a while. What is it's callsign when talking on the radio? I knew the C-5
is called "Jumbo" and the KC-135 is called "Gasser", but I never could quite understand what the Altus approach controllers
were saying when they were talking to a C-17 (almost always the military planes talk on a UHF frequency, so I don't hear them
talking, while the controller transmits on UHF and VHF at the same time). Finally, a few weeks ago while I was in the
practice area and maybe one or two other planes were talking to approach, I asked the controller about it. He replied
that they call a single C-17 "Caddo" and they call a formation flight of them "Tribe". Finally a nagging curiosity has
been put to rest.
Here are pics of when I "flew" in the C-17 simulator at Altus AFB. All the terrain that was visible on the
screens didn't show up on these pics. That sucks because it looks pretty cool.
Flying club C-17 sim trip.