|End of an Era|
Last C-141 crew
chief class preparing to keep bird flying
Lt. Ian Phillips
Imagine being the last of a kind and the possibility of extinction
isn't a too far off in the future.
That's the position three
Airmen-in-training are in as they are last three C-141
Starlifter crew chief's the Air Force will train. July 25 will
be a historic day when they graduate.
Reservists Staff Sgt.
Lauro Valles Jr., Senior Airman Michael Engle and Airman 1st
Class Adam Winebrenner will return to Wright-Patterson Air
Force Base, Ohio, and the 20 C-141s waiting for them.
exciting to be a part of history, especially with the
instructors we've had," Sergeant Valles said. "It's a great
learning environment we've been in."
During their 50-day
class, the Airmen will have received classroom lectures as
well as hands-on training to supplement their
Their instructors provide the students with
knowledge of everything from how to open the aircraft doors to
the intricacies of its mechanical and electrical
"My job as an instructor is to make sure they know
every part of this aircraft and can deal with it on their own
when they leave here," said Peggy Feliciano, an instructor
teaching C-141s since 1993.
After 30 days in class, the
Airmen said they have found it is everything they expected it
"It is very interesting. Troop and cargo transports
are very versatile aircraft," Airmen Engle said. "I'm just
surprised we are the last class and the aircraft is going
Expecting the class to be difficult was something
the senior airman said he was expecting.
"It is a much bigger challenge to me than
services was, which is what I used to do," he said. "It is
more of a challenge in the aircraft and I enjoy that."
the students graduate, they return to Wright-Patterson for
additional training to let all of the material learned here
sink in. All three are full time students when they aren't
wearing their Air Force reservist hats.
The C-141 was Air
Mobility Command's first jet aircraft designed to meet
military standards as a troop and cargo carrier when it
started flying in 1965.
Training at Sheppard started right
around the same time the aircraft started operations and has
continued ever since.
The C-141 proved its reliability to
the Air Force and its mission with the ability to perform a
large variety of tasks.
The Starlifter has the ability to
carry 200 troops, 155 paratroops, 103 litters and 14 seats or
68,725 pounds of cargo.
With more than 40 years of service
and nearly nine million flying hours, the C-141 has proven its
importance to the Air Force and these students plan to carry
on this tradition until the Air Force retires the