A First Time for Everything

A group of more than 120 airmen, Department of Defense civilians, and contractors did something that had never been done before when they removed a crippled C-17 transport from the runway at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Feb. 2, three days after the aircraft touched down with none of its landing gear down. The crash—the first of it kind in the C-17’s operational history—had disrupted the base’s operations. The recovery group used a large crane and six giant airbags during the two-day effort to lift the aircraft high enough so that its landing gear could be extended and then rolled off of the runway. The recovery team had to apply ingenuity in the removal since the scenario that they faced went beyond the guidance in the aircraft’s manuals. “The major lesson learned was that the technical data for C-17 recovery did not list any alternate methods,” said TSgt. Joseph Mixson, lead team chief for crash recovery. Use of the crane was an adaptation that enabled the air bags to be put in place, he said. (Bagram report)