In 1873, Phileas Fogg, the fictional protagonist in Jules Verne’s “Around the World in Eighty Days” circumnavigated the globe by rail and steamer ship in, of course, 80 days. Unfortunately for Fogg, he did not have access to a C-5M Super Galaxy to accomplish this feat quicker.
A C-5M aircrew from the 9th Airlift Squadron at Dover Air Force Base, Del., completed an east to west circumnavigation of the globe May 21 to June 3.
“A part of every Team Dover airman traveled around the world with the Pelicans last week,” Lt. Col. Matthew Husemann, the 9th AS commander, said, referring to the unit’s mascot. “These missions are rare, but because of the dedication and commitment to excellence of the 436th’s and 512th’s Maintenance Groups’, Mission Support Groups’, Medical Groups’ and Operations Groups’ airmen (and) partnering with (airmen from Joint Base McGuire–Dix–Lakehurst, N.J.,) the team was able to truly demonstrate the global reach of the global mobility mission.”
Over the course of two weeks, this mission saw the C-5M and its aircrew transport and deliver more than 580,000 pounds of cargo and nearly 400 passengers. The aircraft visited and transited military bases and locales to include Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst; Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii; Kadena Air Base, Japan; Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory; Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti; Naval Station Rota, Spain; Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz.; and back home to Dover AFB.
In total, the mission racked up 69 hours of flight time and traversed more than 26,000 miles. Though this is not the first time, nor will it be the last time a C-5M has accomplished this, it is still a feat well worth mentioning.
The aircraft commander, Capt. Braden Gross, had nothing but praise for his aircrew and the mission.
“It’s great to have such a qualified professional aircrew that can take an airplane around the world,” the 9th AS pilot said. “To complete a mission by flying 26,000 miles is no small feat, but it is what we are trained to do.”
For one veteran aircrew member, TSgt. Will Russell, a 9th AS loadmaster evaluator with more than nine years of flight experience and more than 2,700 flight hours, this was finally his first time circumnavigating the globe.
“This is my first time,” Russell said. “It was just like one giant mission; it just keeps on going.”
Even with the great length in time and distance attributed to this circumnavigation, Russell and his fellow loadmasters overcame all unique difficulties.
“Each mission has its own challenges; that’s what is fun about our job,” Russell said. “It’s never the same day twice.”
During this specific mission, Russell and three other loadmasters were responsible for loading and unloading hundreds of thousands of pounds of cargo, to include two HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopters, four military-grade Polaris RZRs, three jet skis, and dozens of pallets.
Russell was pleased with the dedication and professionalism of the younger loadmasters he supervised.
“They’re outstanding, part of my job is to teach them and show them the correct way to do things,” he said. “Ultimately one day, they will be my replacements.”
But keeping the C-5M in the air safely was the responsibility of the two flight engineers who are responsible for maintaining and monitoring the aircraft’s systems.
“This was my first time going round the world,” said SSgt. Brent Gregory, a 9th AS flight engineer. “It wouldn’t have been possible unless we had a good crew, we worked as team and that is what makes the mission happen.”
Maintaining the aircraft’s systems and mechanical workings fell to the responsibility of two flying crew chiefs from the 436th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. For one of them, SSgt. Bradley Harris, this wasn’t his first rodeo.
“I’ve done a few of these (circumnavigations),” Harris said. “They are no joke; it’s definitely a long haul.”
Besides some standard mechanical issues, the flying crew chiefs and flight engineers were able to overcome all adversities, allowing the mission to continue on schedule successfully.
“The Pelicans were honored to represent and execute Dover’s mission around the world,” Husemann said. “It is always awesome to watch the entire Dover team rock the mission.”