CHARLOTTE, N.C. - The "Queen City" looked as though it was holding its breath in awe as eight C-130 Hercules aircraft maneuvered their way toward the Charlotte Douglas International airport after flying their last max flight training mission over North Carolina, Aug. 5, 2017.
"It's bittersweet, we love the C-130 obviously, but moving forward we have to think about the future and the C-17 will get us there," said U.S. Air Force Maj. Joshua Nemitz, a seven-year veteran with the North Carolina Air National Guard and lead C-130 Hercules pilot for the exercise.
A max flight with C-130s is when all the aircraft assigned to a unit start their engines and fly off in a synchronized manner and attempt simulated airdrops with sand bags. The North Carolina Air National Guard flew eight of the unit's assigned aircraft in an "eight-ship" formation out to the 263rd Communications Squadron in Stanly County and completed the drops.
"We are closing a chapter on the C-130 mission and opening up a chapter on the C-17 mission," said Col. Troy Gerock, 145th Airlift Wing Commander. "Between now and the end of the year, we will see these planes take off and not come back."
The North Carolina Air National Guard will start a conversion this year from its tactical airlift mission requiring C-130 Hercules aircraft, which are equipped to carry large loads of cargo to remote locations and execute air drops, to a strategic airlift mission with C-17 Globemaster II aircraft that are much larger in size and geared toward heavy airdrops and cargo transport of items such as helicopters and Humvees.