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Column for 5.25.11
The picture (below) you are looking at here is of the inside of a C-5A, which is one heck of a big airplane. It was on the ground at Griffiss this past Saturday, along with several other airplanes, as part of an open house.
This C-5A is part of the 105th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard at Stewart Air Force Base in Newburgh, N.Y. Nicknamed the “Hudson Valley Hauler,” this C-5A and others in the Wing are often at Griffiss doing touch and goes, which is a way to practice takeoffs and landings.
But on this Saturday the “Hudson Valley Hauler” landed and stayed on the ground for several hours so that Griffiss open house attendees could get an up close - inside and out - look. Other airplanes on display at the open house included a C-130, based at Stratton Air National Guard Base, Scotia, N.Y., a big Boeing 747, a small Piper Cherokee 140, a twin-engine Aero Commander, a glider, and a former FedEx 727, which now belongs to Mohawk Valley Community College’s aircraft mechanic program at Griffiss, organizer of Saturday’s open house.
Standing there in the middle of the crowd, surrounded by airplanes, I couldn’t help but think back to the days when Griffiss was an Air Force Base and had an annual open house. Thousands of people swarmed into those open houses. Buses were needed to transport visitors from parking areas out to the tarmac where dozens of airplanes were open for inspection. There were exhibits and demonstrations on the ground and in the air. In fact, it was at Griffiss that I first saw the Thunderbirds, the Air Force Air Demonstration Squadron.
The annual Griffiss Open House, later called Commander’s Day, was something people looked forward to. In fact, it was one of the most popular events in Central New York.
As for the “Hudson Valley Hauler” on display last Saturday at Griffiss, hauling cargo is something it can certainly do. The C-5 is one of the biggest airplanes in the world. Double doors on either end of the airplane make it easy to load and unload. On the upper level, there is room for 80 some passengers.
On the lower level is room for trucks or jeeps or even two Army tanks. A C-5 usually has a crew of seven: pilot, co-pilot, two flight engineers and three loadmasters. It has a range of 6,320 nautical miles and can fly at 500 miles an hour.
Back in 1992, a few days after Hurricane Andrew, I flew with members of the 10th Mountain Division from Griffiss Air Force Base to what was left of Homestead Air Force Base in Florida. I remember watching as vehicles were loaded aboard the C-5. Troops filled every seat. I also remember that we used almost all the Griffiss runway, which is more than two miles long, before we got into the air.
In case you can’t tell, I’m hoping the Griffiss open house becomes an annual event.