By the late 1970’s the U.S. military focus was shifting away
from Southeast Asia and toward supporting
NATO in Europe.
Department of Defense leadership mandated
capability to rapidly reinforce Europe while also
dispatching forces to deal simultaneous crises in other
parts of the world. With this direction MAC decided to renew
its emphasis on airdrop procedures as a means of rapid
delivery. MAC leadership again considered a competition
format as an excellent way to gauge the level of proficiency
and refine airdrop techniques.
General William Moore Commander of MAC re-established the
airlift rodeo competition renamed as the Volant Rodeo.
It was to be held at Pope AFB
from 3 – 9 June of that year. Gen Moore directed each of his
Airlift Wings, to participate in the first Volant Rodeo,
also in attendance was airlift units from the Air Force
Reserve and the Air National Guard. In all 31 teams competed
flying de Havilland
Caribou , Fairchild C-123 Provider, Lockheed C-130 Hercules,
and C-141 StarLifter.
Events at the Volant Rodeo '79 included airdrops of both equipment and personnel, ERO, assault takeoffs and landings, maintenance inspections,
aerial delivery inspections, as well as Combat Control and
Security Police marksmanship and a tactical
exercise guarding a C-130 against a group of
XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg also supported
the Rodeo by providing paratroops, equipment, and drop zones
for the air drop events.
The following year the Rodeo was
again held at Pope Air Force Base from 13 –
19 July. For the first time, "Rodeo" had
and international flavor, with the expansion to airlift
units from other countries from all around the globe. A total of 37 team participated in the
1980 event including four international teams from
Federal Republic of Germany, and the
United Kingdom. The German team competed in the
C-130 category flying
Transall C-160 aircraft.
Allied interaction was expanded during the 1981 Rodeo, held
7 – 13 June at Pope Air Force Base. Allied aircrews were
given opportunities to fly in MAC aircraft and in at least
one case MAC adopted British procedures, using copilots to
navigators during low level missions.
The 1981 edition of Rodeo was the last competition for the C-7 and C-123,
all airframes were to be being phased
out of U.S service before the next Rodeo competition.
The 1982 Rodeo, held at Pope Air Force Base from 13 –
18 June, was also the first that
saw an allied nation win the overall competition as
Italy’s 46th Air Brigade won the Best Wing Award.
The Rodeo format remained relatively unchanged over the
subsequent four years. The
94th Tactical Airlift Wing became first Reserve
unit to win the Best Wing Award in 1985 and the
136th Tactical Airlift Wing was the first Air
National Guard unit to win best wing in 1986.