JUNE 21, 2016, JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas (AFNS) – The saying “history repeats itself” has become all too familiar to the 433rd Airlift Wing, as hundreds of Airmen and distinguished guests gathered along the flightline here June 17 to welcome the wing’s first C-5M Super Galaxy, named “The City of San Antonio.”
The move makes the 433rd AW the first and only Air Force Reserve wing to receive Lockheed Martin’s modernized strategic airlifter.
Almost 32 years ago, a similar crowd gathered at Kelly Air Force Base, Texas, as the wing, then the 433rd Tactical Airlift Wing, welcomed its predecessor, the first C-5A Galaxy, also named The City of San Antonio, into the Air Force Reserve Command’s inventory.
“This is a remarkable day for the 433rd Airlift Wing,” said Maj. Gen. John C. Flournoy Jr., the Fourth Air Force commander, who piloted the aircraft to Lackland. “The opportunity to take an older aircraft and bring it up to today’s standards for aviation is absolutely phenomenal. This was my first time landing in a C-5M and let me tell you it flies like a dream. It’s absolutely a wonderful piece of modern technology in that cockpit, and it felt great.”
This particular C-5M is the first of nine aircraft that will make up the wing’s fleet by late 2018.
Tony Frese, Lockheed’s Air Mobility and Maritime Missions vice president, noted that the aircraft is superior to its predecessor, the C-5A, in every way.
“The biggest step up the C-5M brings are the upgraded engines, which provide not only about 22 percent improved thrust but up to 20 percent more fuel efficiency,” he said. “That converts into over 20 percent more range for this aircraft, much shorter takeoff distances, much faster time, but also more reliability. Also, the engines are 10 times more reliable than the previous version’s engines. However, what most people don’t realize is the other 70 improvements that have been made to other systems of the aircraft, and they really bring together the significant reliability of this aircraft.”
Tech. Sgt. David Ponce, a 433rd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron C-5M crew chief, accepted the ceremonial key to the aircraft and said he’s ready to get to work.
“We’re really excited to get our hands on our own C-5Ms,” said the 16-year airlift aircraft maintenance technician. “We’ve been working on what we call ‘loaners’ from Dover and Travis (Air Force Bases), and now we have our first one. I love my job as a dedicated crew chief and knowing that the maintenance we provide on the aircraft makes a difference.”
Performance abilities aside, one thing both the 1984 C-5A, tail number 69-0016, and today’s modernized C-5M, tail number 70027, have in common is their unique “City of San Antonio” distinction. They are the only two C-5s to be bestowed “The City of San Antonio,” a testament to the solid relationship between the military and San Antonio community. The name, along with a depiction of the famous Alamo, is showcased on the aircraft to the left of the door.
During the ceremony, San Antonio City Council member Rey Saldana read a proclamation on behalf of the city to the 433rd AW welcoming its first Super Galaxy.
“I’m a member of the San Antonio community, and more than anything; we like to pride ourselves on being called ‘Military City USA,’” he said. “It’s not just a slogan for us.
“I’ve lived outside the Lackland Air Force Base community my entire life, so to be invited in as an elected official, and more importantly, as a San Antonio community member it means the world to me, especially on a great day like this, where you get to get close up to the mission and to see the arrival of the great C-5M Super Galaxy. It’s amazing.”
As the ceremony came to a close, guests were invited to explore the largest plane in the U.S. military fleet. This was especially exciting for retired Gen. Thomas M. Ryan Jr., the former Military Airlift Command commander, who piloted that first C-5A to Kelly AFB.
“It feels good to be here around a great bunch of people in the 433rd,” said the 88-year-old command pilot who has flown more than 8,000 flying hours. “This brings back a lot of good memories.
“The M is a great addition to the fleet,” he added. “They finally have a modern, reliable plane to accomplish their mission. I’m happy for them.”