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 c-17A S/N 00-0173
Acceptance date - April 24, 2001
McChord's 23rd  factory delivered C-17A
Transferred  to Elmendorf AFB, AK in 2007
Crashed - July 28, 2010
Photo by Senior Airman Garrett Hothan / USAF 

The Spirit of the Aleutians descends to the flightline Sept. 17. was the newest addition to Elmendorf's Globemaster fleet. The first aircraft arrived in June. The eight and final aircraft arrived in November. 

Photo by Senior Airman Laura Turner/ USAF  
C-17A -0173 is pictured before landing during Red Flag Alaska 09, April 30, 2009.

C-17 -0173 from the 517th AS sits at Earckeson Air Station during a visit on July 10, 2009. The airfield, constructed in the early 1940s, resurfaced in 1976 is now tasked with supporting heavier and more complex aircraft.

4 killed in C-17 crash at Anchorage Base  
By JAMES HALPIN and LISA DEMERAnchorage Daily News  
Air Force photo by Senior Airman Cynthia Spalding/JBER PAO)  

The tail of C-17A 00-0173 can be seen in the wreckage of the aircraft on 30 July 2010.  



A C-17 cargo plane with four people on board crashed and burned on Elmendorf Air Force Base Wednesday evening (28 July 10), according to the Air Force. Air Force Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, the highest ranking military official in Alaska, said at a press conference late Wednesday night that it's "likely there are fatalities involving this mishap." He said investigators were working the scene into the night.

Atkins said the plane was practicing for the Elmendorf air show planned for this weekend went it crashed at 6:14 p.m. The huge, four-engine jet, which is known as the most advanced cargo aircraft in the world, crashed in what witnesses described as a huge ball of flame."It's not an ejection aircraft," Atkins said during the press conference, held outside the Boniface Parkway gate of Elmendorf. "I mean, it's not like a fighter where you can eject out of the aircraft. So, likely nobody escaped the aircraft prior to the crash."The aircraft belonged to Elmendorf's 3rd Wing but officials wouldn't address whether the crew was Air Force, Alaska National Guard, or a mix.

Initial reports indicated the plane had gone down in a wooded area about two miles north and east of the runway. A black plume of smoke was visible rising from the base starting shortly after 6 p.m. Firefighters at the downtown Station 1 say they saw a ball of flames and black smoke rise from base. They were called for an agency assist to a report of a plane crash but then were called off the summons moments later as they got out on the street, according to firefighters. Roger Herrera, 35, said he had been driving on Turpin Street south of Elmendorf when he saw a ball of fire erupt on base. "It was huge," he said. "My wife thought it was a nuclear bomb."He reached for his camera, but by the time he had it the flames had given way to massive pillar of black smoke billowing into the sky, he said.


At the Boniface Parkway gate to the base, Karol Malone tried to get access to the base soon after the crash because of worries that her son, Maj. Aaron Malone, was aboard the airplane. She said he is a pilot on a C-17 who is planning to fly in Elmendorf's immensely popular Arctic Thunder air show and open house, which is set for this weekend.  Guards at the gate told her to contact public affairs, who didn't have any information for her. "It's been an hour and a half and they haven't even contacted families," Malone said. Military acts have been gathering on base this week to prepare for the air show. Atkins said a decision would be made "very soon" on whether the show would go on.

The announced headline acts at the air show are the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the Canadian Snowbirds. In the past, the air show has drawn the largest two-day crowds in Alaska. The C-17 is commonly featured in air shows, particularly the aircraft's ability to take off and land in short distances. The Boeing C-17 is a large military transport aircraft. It can "carry large equipment, supplies and troops directly to small airfields in harsh terrain anywhere in the world day or night," according to a description on Boeing's Web site of the C-17 Globemaster III. "The massive, sturdy, long-haul aircraft tackles distance, destination and heavy, oversized payloads in unpredictable conditions."The C-17 holds more than 20 world-class airlift records, including one in which one of the aircraft took off and landed in less than 1,400 feet carrying a payload of 44,000 pounds, according to TheAviationZone.com.

The worst crash at Elmendorf happened in September 1995 when an AWACS jet hit a flock of geese. Twenty-four airmen were killed when the radar plane went down. It was the first ever crash for an AWACS jet.

Some 218 C-17s are in service around the world, including 199 used by the U.S. Air Force and National Guard, according to Boeing. A search of a news database found no previous reports of fatal C-17 crashes. One crash-landed on its belly in Afghanistan in January 2009, but it was due to pilot error, according to a military investigation. The crew failed to lower the landing gear and turned off an alert system, according to the Air Force Times. The repair bill for the $200 million plane was $19 million, the story said. Wednesday evening's crash is the second this summer near downtown Anchorage. A light plane went down in June after taking off from Merrill Field in June, killing one young child and injuring four other people.

Gov. Sean Parnell and Sen. Mark Begich issued statements late Wednesday expressing sadness over the crash and sending well-wishes to members of the military. "Alaskans are very connected to the military, and our thoughts and prayers are with Alaska's Air Force family," Parnell said.


The Air Force has identified the crew killed in a C-17 crash earlier this week at Elmendorf Air Force Base. They are:

* Maj. Michael Freyholtz. Pilot. 34. Hines, Minn. 249th Airlift Squadron. Alaska Air National Guard.


* Maj. Aaron Malone. Pilot.  36. Anchorage, AK. 249th Airlift Squadron. Alaska Air National Guard.


* Capt. Jeffrey Hill. 31. York, Pa. 517th Airlift Squadron. Elmendorf Air Force Base.


* Master Sgt. Thomas Cicardo. 47. Anchorage, AK. Loadmaster. 249th Airlift Squadron. Alaska Air National Guard.


“We come to work with immense sorrow after four of our fellow airmen lost their lives in the C-17 crash at Elmendorf AFB Wednesday,” said Brig. Gen. Charles E. “Chuck” Foster in a statement released Friday afternoon. Foster is commander of the 176th Wing of the Alaska Air National Guard.“They were more than valued Airmen: They were our teammates, friends, family members and fellow Alaskans.


We mourn their loss and share the deep sadness of their families.” “These fallen warriors embody the pride and professionalism of American Airmen,” said Col. John McMullen, 3rd Wing commander. “They selflessly served their country and will be sorely missed by our entire Arctic Warrior family.”The crash occurred early Wednesday evening just after takeoff. The crew were preparing for this weekend’s air show.


Authorities are investigating the reasons for the crash.

View Image
Maj. Aaron W. Malone

 Malone served for more than 12 years in the Air National Guard. He received his commission as a second lieutenant from the Academy of Military Science in April 1998 and graduated from undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base in August 1999 with his Air Force pilot wings. He was initially assigned to the Iowa Air National Guard but later transferred to the 186th Fighter Squadron, Montana Air National Guard, where he flew the F-16 "Fighting Falcon."While with the Montana Air National Guard, he flew air missions in the 9/11 aftermath for Operation Noble Eagle and deployed to the Korean Peninsula. He transferred into the Alaska Air National Guard in 2008, when it started to fly the C-17 "Globemaster III" aircraft. He took an extended military leave of absence from his civilian employer, Alaska Airlines, to help set up the new 249th Airlift Squadron. Malone had more than 2,100 military flying hours in the T-37, T-38, F-16 and    C-17 aircraft, and routinely flew combat missions in the C17 in Afghanistan and Iraq.




Maj. Michael H. Freyholtz


 Freyholtz joined the Air Force in May 1998 and received his officer commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corp program. He attended undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force, where he received his Air Force pilot wings in May 2000.Freyholtz was selected to fly the C-17 "Globemaster III" after pilot training and attended initial C-17 qualification training at Altus Air Force Base, Okla. While on active duty, he was stationed at Charleston Air Force Base and McChord Air Force Base as a C-17 aircraft commander, instructor pilot and flight examiner. Freyholtz left active duty in May 2007 and joined the Alaska Air National Guard. He was the first outside pilot hired for the new 249th Airlift Squadron and helped set it up. Initially, he served in a drill status guardsmen capacity and worked for Boeing Co. as a full-time C-17 simulator instructor. He later became a full-time technician in the 249th Airlift Squadron and headed its standardization/evaluation section. He was the unit's first C-17 flight examiner pilot and air show demonstration pilot. He recently accompanied the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds throughout the Pacific, flying the C-17.Freyholtz accumulated more than 3,500 military flying hours in the T-37, T-1 and C-17 aircraft. He flew 608 combat hours in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, for which he received the Air Medal.

Capt. Jeffrey A. Hill

Hill was a C-17A instructor pilot and operations flight commander for the 517th Airlift Squadron at Elmendorf Air Force Base. He began his military career in 1998 as an enlisted aircraft maintainer in the 12th Fighter Squadron at Elmendorf. Hill attended pilot training at Columbus Air Force Base, Miss., after earning his commission in December 2002, where he later became a T-1 instructor. In 2007, he was assigned to start up the new C-17A squadron in Alaska. He later became the operations flight commander and instructor in the tactical airlift mission. He reinvigorated the booster club and motivated young airmen to get and stay fit.

Master Sgt. Thomas E. Cicardo

Cicardo served for more than 28 years in the U.S. armed forces. Before joining the Alaska Air National Guard, Cicardo served in the U.S. Marine Corp, U.S. Army and the Air Force Reserve. He joined the Alaska Air National Guard in September 1997.He spent his first eleven years in the Alaska Air National Guard in the 210th and 211th Rescue Squadrons, where he flew the HC-130 aircraft. He took part in 58 search-and-rescue missions in Alaska and was credited with saving 66 lives and assisting 13 others to safety. He deployed multiple times in Operation Enduring Freedom, flying combat search and rescue missions in Afghanistan and personnel recovery missions in the Horn of Africa. In 2008, Cicardo was selected to be part of the C-17 initial crew to start up the 249th Airlift Squadron. He was an instructor and flight examiner loadmaster Cicardo checked out in the C-17 "Globemaster III" aircraft and quickly upgraded to instructor and flight examiner loadmaster. Cicardo had more than 5,400 flying hours in the C-141, C-130, HC-130 and C-17 aircraft and visited countless countries. He was a highly decorated combat veteran receiving more than 30 awards and decorations, to include the Afghanistan Campaign medal, the Air Medal and the Meritorious Service Medal.

Source: Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska 
PHOTO BY Florian Kondziela                         Florian Kondziela-airliners.net
C-17A -0173 began its Air Force service with the 62d AW at McChord.

 Photo by Kai-jens Meyer                                                               www.planespotting.net 


 Photo by Kai-jens Meyer                                                               www.planespotting.net 

C-17A -0173 pictured at Rhein-Main AB during a airlift mission during Operation Enduring Freedom, 07 July 02.

PHOTO BY Florian Kondziela                         Florian Kondziela-airliners.net
PHOTO BY Florian Kondziela                         Florian Kondziela-airliners.net
PHOTO BY Florian Kondziela                         Florian Kondziela-airliners.net
C-17A -0173 in pictured  this take-off series from Rhein-Main AB January 25, 2003

 photo by Airman 1st Class Andrew SvobodA                                                    U.S. Air Force

A Canadian light-armored vehicle gets loaded on a C-17 -0173 at a forward-deployed location in support of Operation Enduring Freedom on March 2, 2003.

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