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C-5 transport plane lands in Martinsburg

May 20, 2002|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Sitting nose to nose Saturday on the runway at the National Guard's 167th Airlift Wing, the familiar C-130 aircraft seemed dwarfed by the C-5 transport plane that is soon to take its place.

On hand to view the future of the Air Guard in Martinsburg were U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., and Adjutant Gen. Allen Tackett of the West Virginia National Guard.

"You often hear that one person can't make a difference but that is not true," Tackett said. "Sen. Byrd was there as he has always been there for West Virginia. Hs dedication to good things for West Virginia never stops."

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After working with the U.S. Department of Defense since 1999, Byrd announced last month that 10 of the C-5s will be based in Martinsburg, a move expected to bring at least $200 million in construction to the airport.

The modernized fleet replacing the 12 C-130s will result in approximately 170 new part-time jobs and an undetermined number of full-time jobs in the Eastern Panhandle, Byrd said.

Roughly the size of a commercial 747, the C-5 has a huge range and massive payload capabilities. It can transport 73 passengers and up to 22 crew members.

"What is coming to Martinsburg is a testament to the fine work of Gen. Tackett and 167th commander Col. Jesse A. Thomas and all the National Guard men and women," Byrd said as he toured the cavernous storage section of the C-5.

The plane was flown to Martinsburg on Friday and was scheduled to return to its Stewart, N.Y., base later Saturday, said Master Sgt. Bill Muller, load master for the C-5.

Muller described the plane as very heavy to fly but comfortable once in the air.

"If we have a full load of cargo and fuel and it's a hot day, we need a lot of runway to take off," Muller said.

In New York, Muller said 13 C-5s are stationed in Stewart while some other bases have up to 18 of the planes.

The transfer of the C-5 fleet to Martinsburg ensures the long-term viability of the 167th Airlift Wing as a provider of critical emergency services and a major anchor of the Eastern Panhandle economy, Byrd said.

"An example of that was the response to the recent flooding in southern West Virginia," Byrd said. "That the Department of Defense has chosen this unit for this expense shows its high regard for this unit."

The 167th Airlift Wing employs approximately 1,200 personnel with an annual economic impact of about $34 million, according to the West Virginia Air National Guard.

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