Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Tail Lights

I had the opportunity to cover the 20th anniversary of the first flight of the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III at Edwards AFB this past September. The CTF (combined test force) essentially recreated the flight from Long Beach to Edwards by having the number one aircraft (91-0003, also known as T-1) take off from Edwards, fly over the McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) facility where it was built and then return and land at Edwards.

After watching the landing out by the runway we were taken to the hangar where the official ceremony was to take place. There were quite a few people there from the test force and a lot of dignitaries, including the original first flight crew.

After several speeches, and a great deal of sober reflection on how close the C-17 came to cancellation after only 40 aircraft were built due to poor design and quality issues, the program could finally reflect on the success of its remarkable turnaround and the delivery of over 230 Globemaster IIIs to the Air Force.

The airplane is now a very critical cog in this country's ability to transport troops and their supplies overseas. It truly has become a feel-good story and a great lesson in perseverance and teamwork. One could say that hopefully the lessons aren't lost in today's environment, but personally I'd prefer not to see those problems occur at all. Hardship may build character, but it also makes one very old and tired from all the stress.

Be that as it may, after the ceremony we were allowed to wander around the hangar and go inside the airplane. I found this shot to be rather neat in its design with the ceiling lights and glowing windows of the hangar straddling the towering line of the C-17's tail. It produced a rather pleasing image to me - and hopefully to you as well.

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