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Alaska's newest airlifter -- Globemaster III arrives

Lt. Col. Carl Lincoln shows off the Globemaster’s roomy cargo area, one of many military-specific design features.

Lt. Col. Carl Lincoln shows off the Globemaster’s roomy cargo area, one of many military-specific design features.

Capt. Mike Freyholtz, the 249th Airlift Squadron’s C-17 pilot trainer.

Capt. Mike Freyholtz, the 249th Airlift Squadron’s C-17 pilot trainer.

KULIS AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Alaska -- One of the eagerly anticipated changes in the Alaska Air National Guard this year was the C-17 mission. 

When the first Globemaster touched down in Alaska, it came with opportunity. Lt. Col. Carl Lincoln opened the door when that opportunity came knocking, training to be the AKANG's first C-17 pilot. Lincoln said, "I used to fly KC-135s. For over 15 years, I flew
big swept-wing, four-engine heavy jets."

Since he became a C-17 pilot this spring, he's also learned to fly other things, like helicopters and trucks -- as cargo in his Globemaster III. 

Lincoln heads the unit tentatively known as the "249th Airlift Squadron," a new strategic airlift unit that "didn't even exist a year ago." A significant part of Maj. Gen. Craig Campbell's strategic planning, the Globemaster mission ensures the Alaska Air National Guard's relevance over the next four decades. 

Lincoln explained further: "I think the whole 176th Wing needs to be proud that we've been able to stand up 25 percent of our crew with no funding, no programming and no resources, in under a year, before the aircraft were delivered." 

"There wasn't any part of this wing that didn't have to sacrifice to make this happen," he continued. Units gave up days, redirected resources, and in several cases, had to give up staff to provide personnel and equipment for the new squadron. 

By partnering with the active duty in the strategic airlift arena, the AKANG has a part in "the newest technology the Air Force has to offer in an airlifter: a 100-percent electronic, fly-by-wire aircraft," Lincoln said. "It's a great airplane to fly. It can almost be flown without touching the controls."

Lincoln walked through the aircraft, noting various features. "This aircraft was constructed with direct input by pilots and loadmasters," resulting in an aircraft tailored to military applications, he said. 

Additionally, this particular strategic asset can deliver cargo directly to the warfighter. "It can fly from middle America to a dirt strip in Afghanistan," Lincoln said. 

This cuts out the logistical challenge that required transferring cargo to smaller aircraft in order to make that "last mile" delivery to the warfighter on the ground. 

However, all is not said and done for the Alaska Air Guard's newest unit. 

According to Lt. Col. Nathan Braspenninckx, the new unit's Operations Officer, one of the most striking aspects of the new C-17 unit is that it is a "classic associate" unit, meaning that the active duty "owns the tails," and "we jointly fly the aircraft." 

Both the Alaska Air Guard and the active duty have resources assigned to maintain and
fly the aircraft, and both will have their own complementary missions. 

In manpower terms, that means that what is usually a 5-to-1 ratio between crew and
aircraft splits into a 3-to-1 ratio for the active Air Force and a 2-to-1 ratio for the Alaska Guard, making it easier for both components to staff. 

Since the unit will have a total of eight C-17s, this means that the 249th will field 16 crews -- a minimum of 32 pilots and 32 loadmasters. Currently, they have only two crews. 

Lincoln said, "Loadmasters have a great opportunity but not the only one. There's a broad spectrum needed. I'm desperate for some operations support personnel." 

Already, the call has attracted one fully qualified C-17 pilot trainer, Capt. Mike Freyholtz,
or, as Lincoln calls him, "our entire training team." Freyholtz left active duty at McChord
AFB, bringing with him over 3,000 flying hours of Globemaster experience. 

"My wife wanted somewhere with snow. I needed somewhere where I could fly C-17s,"
Freyholtz said. And he takes his new job seriously. "My job is to make sure they know what they're doing when they go down the road without me."
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