Ceremony celebrates groundbreaking of new facility, arrival of C-17s at Dover AFB

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Nicole Langley
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
Distinguished visitors from around the state gathered together with members of the Dover Air Force Base community Monday to celebrate the groundbreaking of a new C-17 training facility and the arrival of C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at Dover. 

Though bittersweet because of the five-year anniversary of 9-11, the ceremony was a celebration of nearly a decade of work coming to fruition, and the beginning of a new era in Dover AFB's strategic airlift capability with the groundbreaking of a new C-17 Aircrew Training Facility. 

The $5.6 million state-of-the-art training facility will house the latest fully electrical, full-motion C-17 aircraft simulator from Boeing's St. Louis factory, said Capt. Scott McAuliffe, Air Force project manager for the facility, and will have a modern electronic classroom for effective training on the latest C-17 tactics and procedures. 

A loadmaster simulator will also be located in the facility, providing loadmasters the opportunity to simulate and hone their skills during various loading, off loading, and combat off-loading situations and emergencies. 

The groundbreaking of the training facility also marked the introduction of C-17s at Dover. 

The first of 13 C-17s is slated for arrival in the summer of 2007, said Col. Sam Cox, 436th Airlift Wing commander. Nine of the base's current 27 aircraft in the all-C-5 fleet will be redistributed to accommodate the new C-17s. 

Colonel Cox emphasized that training is critical, and the new simulator will enable aircrews to practice all C-17 emergency procedures, as well as aerial refueling and instrument procedures. 

Having flown the C-17 prior to coming to Dover, Colonel Cox spoke from experience when he discussed the aircraft's unique abilities. 

"The C-17 provides a distinctly different capability. It can operate into austere airfields and land on dirt strips," said the colonel. 

With its ability to land on shorter and narrower runways, the C-17 provides access to a larger number of airfields around the world. 

Sen. Joseph Biden, just one of the distinguished guests in attendance, spoke highly of the new training facility and its ability to allow Dover AFB personnel to train here, with reduced time spent away from families to train elsewhere. 

In addition to Senator Biden, Sen. Thomas Carper, U.S. Rep. Mike Castle, Dover Mayor Stephen Speed, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Philadelphia District Commander Lt. Col. Gwen Baker and Colonel Cox all spoke at Monday's ceremony. 

Senator Carper summarized a common theme among those who spoke at the ceremony best, when he praised the 436th and 512th Airlift Wings as a great team, and compared the future team of aircraft at Dover to the two wings. 

"The C-17s and C-5s will be an equally great team," proclaimed the senator. "(The C-17s) will make a great team even better!"