C-17 Sets Airdrop Record in Test

C-17 crew with the 418th Flight Test Squadron at Edwards AFB, Calif., chalked up the highest altitude airdrop of a maximum-gross-weight pallet from a C-17 over the Edwards test range. Released at 35,000 feet—10,000 feet higher than the currently approved altitude—the single, 60,000-pound pallet tested the ability of the C-17’s Mode 5 Plus avionics upgrade to mitigate pitch-up after load release. “Because of the areas we are operating in overseas, there seems to be a trend or push to do airdrops from higher altitudes,” said Capt. Michael Baker, C-17 pilot with the 418th FTS. Combining maximum weight, rapid rollout, and high-altitude, the team simulated a “worst-case scenario,” during the June 24 test flight. The upgraded software actuated the aircraft’s spoilers, holding altitude within 100 feet during the procedure, greatly improving potential drop accuracy, according to the testers. (Edwards report by Kenji Thuloweit)