TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --
Within hours of Hurricane Michael’s landfall on the Florida Panhandle, a Travis Air Force Base, California, C-17 Globemaster III with a crew from the 21st Airlift Squadron and the 860th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron was wheels up to support civil authorities in humanitarian relief operations.
The C-17 staged at Davis-Monthan AFB, Arizona, after departing Travis to be able to quickly deliver search and rescue capabilities to the affected area when called upon.
Though the call never came, the C-17 crew knew it was vital to be ready.
“Readiness to me is being prepared at all times for anything," said Staff Sgt. Leroy Algiene, 21st AS C-17 loadmaster. “We have to be so ready if something happens short notice and you're not there within a certain time bad things can happen. Always being prepared and always ready to go is essential.”
When responding to humanitarian relief efforts, Team Travis’s ability to be constantly ready allows aid to reach its destination when needed.
“It’s important to respond quickly because the longer you delay you're losing a lot of critical time,” said Maj. Nathan Masdon, 21st AS C-17 pilot. “Humanitarian missions or search and rescue missions are very time critical, so time is of the essence.”
Travis Airmen are able to stay ready through training, exercises and real-world missions.
“My training prepares me to be ready at all times,” said Algiene. "Constantly having currency items where I have to go into simulators, and small exercise is where we practice over and over. Having repetitions in your belt helps you constantly stay ready and helps get the plane off the ground so quickly.”
“Pilots, in general, go through a lot of training,” said Masdon. “There is a year of basic pilot training, and then you have your specialty platform training just for your aircraft. I think for C-17 pilots and probably all pilots it goes beyond just the training. Most of the experience comes when you start going out and doing day-to-day worldwide operations and all the experience that you're gathering sets us apart as American pilots, just the amount of experience we get because we are so involved in worldwide operations around the globe.”
Even though remaining ready is a full-time commitment, the reward of being able to deliver to those in need is worth it.
“The feeling of being able to help is awesome,” said Algiene. “Part of the reason I wanted this job is to travel and help people. I was part of hurricane relief efforts in the past, and when you bring a team in with water and food to help somebody that's been through devastation, it is a pretty rewarding feeling.”
To some, the short notice might be an obstacle to overcome, but for the C-17 crew, it was business like usual.
“Daily, weekly we’re flying all around the globe 24/7 and are ready to go at a moment's notice,” said Masdon. “I think times like this is when the American people see how strong our global reach is.”
The C-17, tasked to deliver the search and rescue capabilities was one of three Travis aircraft that have responded to civil authorities requests for assistance. The base also sent two Critical Care Air Transport Teams to Scott AFB, Illinois to aid in humanitarian relief operations.
Travis is used to supporting humanitarian relief operations. Last year in the wake of Hurricane Irma and then Hurricane Maria C-17s and C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft from Travis transported more than 500,000 pounds of water, Meals-Ready-to-Eat, medical supplies and search and rescue teams. The aerial port, the largest on the West coast, certified and processed the cargo for airlift, at one point processing an entire mobile air traffic control center and later a 45,000-pound generator that provided air fidelity in St. Thomas and Puerto Rico.