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C-17A S/N 01-0196
Accepted – July 30, 2002
Assigned to the 437th Airlift Wing (AMC) and the 315th Airlift Wing (AFRC), Charleston AFB, S.C.  
photo by Capt. Mark D. Gibson                                                                                                  U.S. Air Force

Airmen and Soldiers join forces to move a C-17 Globemaster III that ran off the runway Aug. 6, 2005 The runway was temporarily closed, but was fully active again in less than 30 hours. 

PHOTO BY Gina Vanatter                                                                                                                      BOEING

The Spirit of Enduring Freedom¸ the new name for the repaired P-96 C-17¸ is unveiled by (from left) Brig. Gen. Robert H. McMahon¸ Maj. Gen. Quentin L. Peterson¸ Lt. Gen. Christopher Kelly and Jon Buresh from Boeing. 

Bagram runway reopens after C-17 incident
455th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

8/9/2005 - BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (AFPN) -- A C-17 Globemaster III rolled off the runway while landing here Aug. 6, damaging its nose and right main landing gears.

As a result, the runway was closed, but quick action and creative thinking by Air Force and Army engineers had the runway fully active again in less than 30 hours.

There were no injuries in the incident. The cause of the incident is under investigation.

When it came to rest, one of the C-17’s wings extended over the active runway, so the aircraft had to be moved. However, air operations continued while the C-17 was moved off the active runway. The C-17 measures 174 feet long with a wingspan of 169 feet. It is operated by a crew of three and can carry up to 170,000 lbs of cargo.

Aircraft from here diverted to other airfields and were able to continue combat missions supporting ground forces. Coalition air forces also assisted in ensuring constant airpower was maintained over the battlefield during aircraft recovery operations.

Nevertheless, moving the aircraft proved to be a complicated process, said Col. Donald Jones, 455th Expeditionary Mission Support Group commander, who directed the effort.

“It took one big team to brainstorm and come up with the tools and methods we needed,” he said.

The hardest part of the process, he said, was determining a way to lift the nose of the aircraft without further damaging it.

First the fuel and cargo needed to be removed. The team removed 105,000 pounds of fuel and unloaded 55,000 pounds of cargo, with the remaining gross weight of the aircraft estimated at 300,000 pounds. Because of the tilt of the aircraft, the cargo could not be removed by forklift through the cargo door. The cargo pallets had to be broken down into individual boxes, pieces and parts were removed through the crew door.

Next the team had to replace the C-17’s unusable landing gear. Their solution was a flatbed trailer, crane and railroad ties.

The aircraft was lifted with the crane, inches at a time, and wood was placed under the nose to support it. The team backed the flatbed tractor trailer under the nose and removed the wood. Straps were tied to the trailer and passed through the pilot’s windows and open doors to secure the aircraft onto the truck.

The team assembled metal airfield matting provided by Army engineers to roll the aircraft onto the runway. The Army engineers also provided two bulldozers and the flatbed to drag the aircraft back onto the runway to a parking ramp.

“Once again, we had great cooperation between the Air Force and Army here,” said Army Col. Michael Flanagan, 18th Engineer Brigade and Task Force Sword commander. “We worked together as a team to get a job done in one night that many people thought would take four days. This is the best cooperative effort between the Air Force and Army that I have seen in my 26-year career.”

Colonel Jones, knowing the priority was getting the runway open, orchestrated the two bulldozers, the flatbed and a ring of people around the aircraft. They used hand signals and walkie-talkies as they inched the aircraft down the runway through three 90-degree turns to its parking spot.

“We had to get this runway open and get A-10 (Thunderbolt IIs) in the air to provide close air support for Soldiers on the ground,” Colonel Jones said.

“Everyone came together to make suggestions and form a workable plan to help get the C-17 off the active runway and resume normal flying operations in minimal time,” said Brig. Gen. Bruce E. Burda, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing commander. “I am extremely proud of the way our Airmen, Soldiers and civilians came together, devised a solution to this unique challenge, and safely made it happen to quickly restore airfield operations.”

The aircraft is assigned to Charleston Air Force Base, S.C.


PHOTO BY Gina Vanatter                                                                                                                      BOEING

The repaired -0196 takes off from the Boeing facility in Long Beach¸ Calif.¸ for Charleston Air Force Base Nov. 17. 

Boeing repairs, returns damaged C-17 to U.S. Air Force

Boeing delivered a good-as-new C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane back to the U.S. Air Force on Nov. 17, (2006) 15 months after it was severely damaged in a runway mishap at Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan.

The newly christened Spirit of Enduring Freedom took off at 9:30 a.m. from Boeing’s Depot Center in Long Beach, Calif., for Charleston Air Force Base. The C-17, officially known as P-96, is now back in regular service, and matches the design and build of every other C-17. Boeing Repair and Modification Services employees who worked to restore the aircraft were on hand for the ceremony along with several Air Force officials.

“Looking at P-96 today, you wouldn’t have a clue what this airplane has been through during the last year and three months,” said Jon Buresh, program manager for the Globemaster III Sustainment Partnership and master of ceremonies for the re-delivery event. “Let me thank all of the Boeing employees who worked so diligently to return this aircraft back to service good as new.”

Repair crews worked around the clock in the field for two months to get the C-17 in good enough condition to fly back to the United States for the massive repairs in Long Beach. Once back in California, it took more than 86,500 hours and 5,000 parts to repair the aircraft.

The bottom barrel of the airplane -- from just behind the nose to the main landing gear – and a landing gear pod had to be replaced, both firsts in sustaining the Air Force’s fleet of C-17s. During the last two months of the project, crews were on the job seven days a week, 12 hours a day. The aircraft had to pass all the same flight tests as a new C-17 rolling out of the production area.

“This recovery is a testament to the dedication, professionalism and can-do attitude of this Boeing/Air Force partnership,” said Gus Urzua, vice president of Boeing Air Force Integrated Logistics. “I am proud of this team’s unselfish devotion and outstanding results.”

Lt. Gen. Christopher A. Kelly, vice commander of Air Mobility Command, accepted the keys of the C-17 during the ceremony. He was also involved in unveiling the new name for P-96, Spirit of Enduring Freedom.

“‘We can, we must, we will,’ you have truly said those things in the craftsmanship and attention to detail, most importantly the grit and determination you showed in bringing back to life P-96,” Kelly said during the delivery ceremony. “I will rest easier at Scott Air Force Base knowing that she is in Charleston, back in the fight, back helping us secure what is at risk in this Global War on Terrorism, our most basic right, that this country was established on over 200 years ago – freedom.

“You have all personally contributed to that freedom through the great work that you have done. I cannot thank you enough for your dedication, your patriotism and your hard work.”

The newly christened Spirit of Enduring Freedom took off at 9:30 a.m. from Boeing’s Depot Center in Long Beach, Calif., for Charleston Air Force Base.

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