Getting the Job Done

For the first time in several years, a USAF C-17 aircrew on June 20 performed a combat offload of supplies at an austere location in Afghanistan. The site at Tarin Khowt doesn’t have much in the way of cargo moving equipment, so the C-17 aircrew, deployed to the 816th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, used “the aircraft’s unique capabilities to deliver the pallets,” said pilot Capt. Jeremy Reich. Applying what he termed “the magic trick where the tablecloth is ripped off the table without offsetting the dishes,” a crew pulls the aircraft from under the pallets when the airmen “run up the engines, release the [pallet] locks, and then release the [aircraft] brakes.” The crew also had to land on the dirt strip so that it had enough room to perform the combat offload, explained aircraft commander Capt. Manny Vega, saying, “We only have one chance at this … then we need to scrub it and do it all over again.” Although C-17 aircrews train for this, Vega said it’s rare to do one outside a training environment. Loadmaster SrA. Michael Sedlak, “We’re taught the basic mechanics in tech school and then we train in a [simulator], but it’s not something I ever saw myself doing.” (Air Forces Central report by SSgt. Stacia Zachary)