TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. – The Air Force’s second-to-last operational C-5A Galaxy embarked on its final flight July 26, landing at Travis Air Force Base, California, where the aircraft is slated to be placed on static display.
The C-5, Tail No. 0451, spent nearly 20 years operating at Travis from 1973 to 1992, a designator that led base officials to choose the aircraft when submitting their request to the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.
“Other than a brief stay at Charleston (Air Force Base) prior to coming to Travis in the 1970s, this is where it spent its active-duty years,” said Rick Shea, Travis Heritage Center curator. “This is home. It needed to be here.”
For the last two decades, the aircraft was being operationally flown by the Air Force Reserve at Westover Air Reserve Base, Massachusetts.
The end state objective of the static display project is to position the aircraft in an empty site adjacent to a static C-141 Starlifter – two aircraft synonymous with the installation.
“When Travis Air Force Base is mentioned to anyone, people’s minds automatically think C-141s and C-5s,” said Shea. “Travis is airlift. To have the Air Force’s largest airlift platform on display is huge for us. It’s huge for educational reasons, esprit de corps purposes as well as being a significant accomplishment for the Heritage Center.
“This is an opportunity to share with our visitors an airplane that has spent more than 40 years enabling us to defend this country,” Shea added.
According to Shea, the proposed site still needs to undergo an environmental evaluation prior to moving forward, but he remains optimistic that the project will be completed within a year.
In addition to the environmental analysis, base officials must also overcome the logistical challenges of towing and placing a 247-foot aircraft with a wingspan of 222-feet. The endeavor will require the efforts and specialties from several units across the base to include maintenance and civil engineering.
Although there is still work to be done, Shea said the end result is a prominent display that is encapsulated in one word: Travis.
“When we drive people down Travis Boulevard and cross the threshold of those two aircraft looking at one another, you’ll know you’re at Travis Air Force Base,” he said. “They say a picture is worth a 1,000 words, but in this case it just says one.”
Travis currently employs a fleet of 18 C-5M Super Galaxies, the modernized variant of the original airframe.