Tuesday, August 20, 2013

TOP STORY >> General flies in C-130J

Leader senior staff writer

Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, director of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, Tues-day piloted the first new C-130J delivered to Little Rock Air Force Base since 2009.

Woodward, who earned her C-130 wings at Little Rock, piloted tail No. 05728 intended for the 314th Air Training Wing — that’s the so-called C-130 school house — to touchdown at 1:15 p.m. This is the first of five C-130Js slated for delivery to the base in 2013.

Woodward is a command pilot who has flown nine aircraft variants, including the C-130J.

“This aircraft delivery is one of the highlights of my career,” Woodward said.

“To deliver it to the Mecca of the C-130 world, the Nation’s Tactical Airlift Center of Excellence, holds a special significance.

“This plane is even more remarkable because it represents the special bond between Little Rock airmen and the outstanding civilian community here.”

Among those in attendance were Rep. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), state Sen. Jane English (R-North Little Rock), Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher, Cabot Mayor Bill Cypert, Maumelle Mayor Mike Watson and Milton Crenshaw, 95, who is among the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen. Wood-ward called him “a legendary American aviator.”

Twenty-five area leaders signed the plane before it left Lockheed-Martin’s Marietta, Ga., facilities, including Crenshaw. Woodward said, “The Tuskegee Airmen have a special place in my heart and in our nation’s history. I think it is incredibly cool that a plane that will continue to make history for our nation and our Air Force will carry with it the autograph of an American Airpower legend.”

“This is just one plane,” Woodward said, “but this plane will significantly increase C-130J pilot and loadmaster productions both for our Air Force and for our international partners.”

“When I was the 18th Air Force vice commander, I witnessed first-hand the incredible value of the C-130 after the horrible earthquake in Haiti,” she said. “Nearly all airlift in and out of Haiti was via C-130s; over 342 missions moving over 6,000 passengers and nearly 2,500 short tons of cargo. Many of those planes and crews were from the 19th Airlift Wing at Little Rock Air Force Base.”

Woodward noted that both Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom leaned heavily on combat airlift provided by the C-130s. She said, “Early in those operations, the C-130Es and Hs bore the brunt, and over the last several years, the J has established itself as the backbone of our operations in the (area of responsibility).”

“Last year, C-130Js flew 23,000 sorties, moving 55,000 tons of cargo and 133,000 passengers,” the general said.

She said that when she became commander of U.S. Air Forces Africa and 17th Air Force in Ramstein, Germany, her boss expected her to get qualified in the C-21, like her predecessor. “Why, when we have those awesome C-130s?” Woodward asked. “I got checked out in the C-130J, right here in Little Rock.”

When we were asked to protect the Libyan people and stand against Muammar Gaddafi in Libya, nearly 3,000 personnel and over 2,000 tons of munitions and equipment…were delivered on extremely short notice.”

She said all of this was possible because of the incredible synergy between the Air National Guard, Reserves, AETC and AMC of Team Little Rock that represents the Air Force’s total-force concept at its best.

Col. Scott Brewer, commander of the 314th Air Education Wing, recognized Crenshaw and had him stand to an enthusiastic response.

Brewer called Crenshaw “an amazing individual and an inspiration to me all the time. We know you as the original Tuskegee Airman. It is your amazing spirit, and I challenge any of you to try to keep up with that man. At 95 years young, he is an amazing inspiration.”

In introducing her, Brewer said, “Gen. Woodward is an incredible leader who has looked out for airmen her entire professional career. She has commanded at the squadron, the group, the wing and the numbered Air Force level, including serving as a coalition forces air-component commander for Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya. She’s also been the Air Force’s chief of safety.”

The 314th Airlift Wing, which trains 2,000 students a year, is the C-130 “Center of Excellence” in partnership with the 19th Airlift Wing, the Arkansas Air National Guard and the Air Force Reserve.