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C-17A S/N 04-4138
Accepted - August 05, 2005 
Assigned to the 452nd Air Mobility Wing (AFRC), March AFB, CA  


The Spirit of California is pictured leaving Boeing's Long Beach CA plant for its new home at March ARB, Riverside CA.



Major General Robert Duignan, (L) and crewmates from the 452d AMW give the "thumbs-up" before their fight in the "Spirit of California".  Maj. Gen Duignan is Commander of the Air Force Reserve Command's 4th Air Force, headquartered at March Air Reserve Base.


Boeing Delivers California's first C-17 

By Gene Duval - Boeing 

Aug. 09, 2005 - In a celebration Tuesday at the Long Beach C-17 facility, Boeing delivered the U.S. Air Force its 138 th C-17 Globemaster III. The advanced airlifter was christened the “Spirit of California” – and for good reason. “It’s the first true C-17, designed and assembled by Californians, and flown by California citizen airmen from a base in California,” said Dave Bowman, vice president and C-17 program manager. “This aircraft truly represents the spirit of this great state.” Added U.S. Rep. Juanita Millender-McDonald, whose district includes the Boeing Long Beach factory: “That’s about as homegrown as you can get,” she said. “We should all be proud of that.”  

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, in a statement read at the ceremony, offered his congratulations, too. “As the newest cargo carrier to enter the airlift force, the Spirit of California showcases the vision and prowess of our military and symbolizes the strength and ingenuity of our great state,” said Schwarzenegger. “I am proud to congratulate March Air Reserve Base for acquiring the C-17,” said California ’s Governor. “I salute Boeing and the United States Air Force for your unwavering commitment to excellence in aviation technologies for our armed forces – the greatest military in the world.” 

Following the delivery ceremony, attended by an estimated 1,000 C-17 teammates, the aircraft headed for its new home at March in nearby Riverside, about 65 miles from Long Beach. The new C-17 was piloted by Maj. Gen. Robert Duignan, commander of the 4th Air Force, headquartered at March ARB.  It’s the first of eight C-17s scheduled for delivery to the base between now and January 2006. “When these airplanes hit the ramp at March, they won’t be there long. They’ll be off, taking the fight to the enemy,” said Duignan, referring to the C-17s critical role in the war on terrorism. “And that’s very important, because this is a war where we can’t come in second place. We have to win.” 

Since the Global War on Terrorism began on October 7, 2001, C-17s have flown combat missions daily -- 1,400 consecutive days, without missing a beat. In Iraq , C-17s have delivered more than 70 percent of all the cargo delivered, exceeded 95 percent departure reliability, and have the highest operational readiness rate of any airlifter: 84 percent. Boeing currently is on a multi-year production contract to design, build and deliver 180 C-17s to the U.S. Air Force through early 2008.  U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert, whose district includes the Riverside base, said the national interest requires additional C-17s beyond those 180 on order.  

 “March continues to play a unique and valuable role in our nation’s defense,” said Calvert. “I will continue to work with my (congressional) colleagues to make sure we get more of these aircraft to meet the airlift needs of our military. And I think you would all agree: March would be a great place to have them.” March’s new C-17s will have upgrades known as “Block 16” improvements, making the airplanes more capable and reliable. Beginning with the C-17 delivered Tuesday, these aircraft incorporate the latest in avionics technology, a next-generation weather radar system, an enhanced onboard inert gas generating system, and a new stabilizer strut system.“The C-17 is the most technologically advanced airlift aircraft ever built,” said Ron Marcotte, Boeing vice president of Airlift and Tanker Programs. “And March’s C-17s are the most capable in the fleet.” 

Those C-17s will be flown and maintained by the 452nd Air Mobility Wing, part of the Air Force Reserve Command. Marcotte Tuesday saluted the strong historical ties between Boeing, Long Beach and the 452nd. Tuesday’s celebration, for many, was a “welcome home” to Long Beach for the 452nd, which was part of Long Beach Air Force Base in the late 1940s and 1950s – before moving to what is now March Air Reserve Base.  The Boeing-March connections don’t stop there; more than 900 C-17 Long Beach employees live in Riverside and San Bernardino Counties, in communities near the base. Fifteen Boeing teammates work on base at March, providing C-17 field engineering, as well as technical and spares support. And, several dozen Boeing Long Beach employees serve as Reservists at March, supporting the 452nd and the 4th Air Force.  

“It is that tradition of the citizen-warrior that has kept this nation strong over the centuries,” said Marcotte. “And it continues today, in the form of the 452nd and the other Reserve units around the country. I think all of us who live with the freedoms we have today owe them a debt of gratitude.”


A line of visitor wait for the chance to see March ARB's newest airlifter.
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