Force Colonel Wayne Schatz was the delivery official for
Friday's handover of the latest C-17 in Long Beach. Like other
senior officers who have served in this role, Schatz was a
picture of health and vitality, showed lots of military
bearing and was more than happy to address Boeing employees at
the traditional delivery breakfast. But that's where the
C-17 is like a C-130 on steroids," said the former C-130
instructor pilot, drawing laughter from employees. "I am
now a total convert." Schatz is also the new commander of
the 62nd Airlift Wing at McChord Air Force Base, Wash, one of
the two major operational C-17 wings. Typically, Air Force
delivery officials are pilots but have no C-17 experience.
They are put through a quick simulator orientation, then fly
the uneventful delivery flights under the watchful eye of
instructor pilots. Wayne Schatz needs no such oversight. He
has flown combat missions into Afghanistan and Iraq.
not your typical delivery officer since I'm a fully-qualified
C-17 aircraft commander," said the graduate of nearby
Eisenhower High School in Rialto. Since the war on terrorism
began, "C-17 crews have flown for 1,035 straight combat
days … and the C-17 has performed magnificently since that
first day," he said.
Colonel also touched on the softer side of his military
career. "My family didn't have much money when I was
growing up so I had to rely on scholarships. I have been very
fortunate along those lines." Since graduating from the
U.S. Air Force Academy in 1983, Schatz has completed not only
the Professional Military Education required throughout an
officer's career, but also three master's degrees, including
one from the JFK School of Government at Harvard University.
not as old as I look," he quipped when an employee asked
about his earliest thoughts of becoming a leader. "I
really didn't plan on staying in the Air Force, I had my eye
on the airlines, " he said. "But I love military
flying -- low-level missions wearing night vision goggles -- I
really enjoy that! But it is the people in the Air Force who
helped me stay, the quality of people is just
his visit to Southern California, Colonel Schatz took time to
tour the Boeing Integration Center and the C-17 factory floor.
"We're learning more and more every day about what the
C-17 can do," he said. "The network centric
capabilities planned for this jet are very important."
But each time he spoke of the airplane, he always ended up
talking about people.
put young kids up in the C-17 -- 25 year-old pilots, 22
year-old co-pilots and 19 year-old loadmasters. And they do
America proud," Schatz said. "I had a great time
touring the line yesterday -- everyone seemed proud of what
they are doing. That's why I stayed in the Air Force, and I
see a lot of that here too."