One of the U.S. Air Force’s largest airlifter planes landed at Juneau International Airport Friday afternoon, dropping off a special Coast Guard unit.
The C-5 Galaxy is so large the airport had to take down signs and some flags. There also isn’t a good parking place for such a plane, so the airport closed off a portion of the taxiway to accommodate it. The plane is nearly 250 feet long, with a wing span of about 220 feet. Centered on the taxiway, the wings reached out past the pavement on both sides, nearly to the midpoint of each ditch.
It has four turbofan engines and each engine pod is about 27 feet long.
It can carry a full fuel load of 332,000 pounds and a cargo load of 270,000 pounds with a full takeoff weight of about 840,000 pounds.
Even though the plane is massive, it is well suited for small airports, able to land on runways as small as about 6,000 feet. Juneau’s runway is 8,300 feet.
It was initially expected to take off Saturday afternoon, but may be delayed for repairs.
Assistant Airport Manager Patricia deLaBruere said having the plane parked on the taxiway won’t be a big inconvenience. She said planes may have to do a little extra maneuvering, but it wouldn’t add seconds to their time clock.
deLaBruere said the airport has had C-5 Galaxies land in the past, but not for several years. She said the most they’ve ever had on the ground has been three, but she’s only seen two at the airport at once.
The U.S. Air Force Reserve Unit 433 Airlift Wing’s mission was to bring the U.S. Coast Guard Maritime Safety and Security Team Los Angeles/Long Beach here.
Maj. Steve Schimelpfening, with the Air Force unit, said they are based out of San Antonio and their next mission is to Hawaii. The unit goes all over the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lt. j.g. James Dooley, public information officer for Coast Guard Sector Juneau, said the Los Angeles/Long Beach unit will be supporting the Juneau sector in Ports, Waterways and Coastal Security missions. He couldn’t say specifically how long the California team will be assisting Juneau, but it will be at least a matter of weeks and they will be operating throughout Southeast.
The C-5 Galaxy flew in the team, two pickup trucks and two 25-foot boats. Dooley said the boats and team will be used for a Department of Homeland Security anti-terrorism mission.
“The safety and security teams are deployable operations groups in the Coast Guard and are organized and trained so they can pile onto a plane and be deployed anywhere in the nation,” Dooley said.
There are 12 Maritime Safety and Security Teams in the U.S. and other related units that have special operations capabilities.
Dooley said the Ports, Waterways and Coastal Securities mission was developed after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 and connects operations in ports to detect and deter terrorism. The team will be establishing security zones around ships or facilities throughout Southeast.
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