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Combat Airlift Competition

MATS airdrop capabilities were greatly enhanced with the addition of the new C-141 StarLifter in late 1964. Two years later the Military Air Transport Service was redesignated the Military Airlift Command (MAC). By 1969 airlift requirements to Vietnam had declined to the level that allowed renewing an airdrop competition. Declining theater requirements coincided with the clear need for C-141 airdrop training. So, MAC held a Combat Airlift Competition from 12 – 20 July 1969 at Charleston AFB, SC for C-141 wings. The 60th (Travis), 62d (McChord), 63d (Norton), 436th (Dover), 437th (Charleston), and 438th (McGuire) Military Airlift Wings each sent two aircrews, one maintenance crew, and one C-141 to participate.


The competition involved using CARP procedures delivering both personnel and equipment during both day and night flying utilizing drop zones at Fort Bragg, North Carolina and Strategic Air Command’s Radar Bomb Scoring Site at Richmond, Kentucky. For the first time the maintenance team received an evaluation and each team participated participated in an Engine Running Offload (ERO).   


The second Combat Airlift Competition was held at Travis AFB from 20 – 24 July 1970. This competition was the first to include Reserve associate aircrews. The number of participating wings grew to eight, however, each wing only sent one aircrew in addition to a single aircraft and maintenance team. Additionally, the two MAC numbered air forces, the 21st Air Force and the 22nd Air Force, each dispatched a Combat Control Team and an Aerial Delivery Team to compete.


The 1970 competition was the first to include competitive events for the combat controllers including a physical fitness test, marksmanship, and a four-mile (6 km) orienteering course. Also, airdrops were conducted at four different drop zones: Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho, Wendover Auxiliary Field, Utah, Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada, and Camp Roberts, California.  The Combat Airlift Competition was held at Charleston Air Force Base in 1971 and at Travis Air Force Base in 1972.


Throughout these competitions MAC leadership noted that the increased emphasis on airdrop training had led to greater accuracy. The Circular Error Average (CEA) had been over 200 yards (180 m) during the first CARP Rodeo in 1962. By 1971 it was down to 77 yards (70 m) and in 1972 the CEA for the Combat Airlift Competition was only 24.33 yards (22.25 m).  As the Vietnam War ended the U.S. military began to restructure. In MAC part of that restructuring including cutting back on airdrop training, and in 1973 airdrop training was halted at Dover, McChord, McGuire, and Travis AFB's and reduced its total air drop crew force to 40 active duty and eight associate reserve crews. Additionally, due to budgetary constraints MAC discontinued Combat Airlift Competitions.  


Over the next two years tactical airlift units were transferred from Tactical Air Command to Military Airlift Command. These units were primarily comprised of C-7 Caribou, C-123 Provider, and C-130 aircraft. Following this transfer the MAC commander, General Paul K. Carlton established the USAF Airlift Center at Pope Air Force Base to conduct testing of tactical airlift procedures and equipment.



CARP RODEO (1961 - 1964)
Combat Airlift Competition (1969 - 1972)
 volant Rodeo (1979 - 1986)
airlift Rodeo (1987 - 1990)
Air Mobility Rodeo (1992 - PRESENT)
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The McChord Air Museum Foundation
P.O. Box 4205
McChord AFB, WA. 98438-0205
e-mail - mamfound@mcchordairmuseum.org