135th Airlift Group Embarks on New Era
By Tech. Sgt. David Speicher, 175th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published August 14, 2011
The Maryland Air National Guard is answering the call once again to lead the way on new aircraft.
Major General James A. Adkins, the adjutant general for the Maryland National Guard along with Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III, director Air National Guard, and Col. Thomas Hans, 135th Airlift Group commander, broke a bottle of Champagne to christen the "Pride of Baltimore II", the 175th Wing's first C-27J Spartan during an arrival ceremony here Saturday, August 13.
In describing the new airlifter, General Wyatt said, "It has a niche that the C-27J fits all its own. For the Air National Guard, it's a great airplane. It fits the domestic niche where larger airplanes would be inefficient."
The general compared the new aircraft similar to how larger airlines operate. He compared it to how civilian companies use different size airplanes to meet the needs of their mission's to maximize efficiencies with a smaller airplane. "It's an airplane that is really inexpensive, and costs less to operate."
General Wyatt remarked that Maryland had already established themselves as a premiere C-130 unit in the Air National Guard. "I expect you will take this airplane and apply it like the other platforms flown before."
"It's a new chapter in the 135th," said Senior Airman J. B. Jennings, a loadmaster. "I think it is an honor to get this airplane. It's going to serve its purpose well. It is a new aircraft serving a new mission. Here in Maryland our domestic mission (covers a wide ranging geography) - we have the eastern shore, the mountains. Whether we need to get supplies in or evacuate people this airplane gets into pretty much any runway in the state."
The Maryland Air National Guard lost their C-130Js due to the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure process. The remaining C-130Js will leave the base within the month. The 135th Airlift Group will have four C-27Js assigned here.
Brig. Gen. Allyson R. Solomon, the assistant adjutant general for air, Maryland Air National Guard talked about continuing the airlift mission. "It is fabulous because we have a future. I am glad to be here to witness the transition and recognize the past and look to the future."
"We are able to support domestic operations, which is one the key principles of being in the National Guard. "It's an opportunity that doesn't come without its challenges. It is a cultural change for us. It is like going from a Cadillac to a Maserati. We will see how the aircrews handle a sports car."
"We are making a transition. There were units that did not transition," said General Solomon. Some units lost their flying mission because of BRAC.
General Solomon said, "We have something here that will continue. I feel good today. People seem so excited."
The C-27J has already proven itself in combat. It flew its first combat mission in Afghanistan August 4 with another Air National Guard unit.
Capt. Chris Meyer a C-27J pilot and project officer for the ceremony said, "The airplane has amazing capabilities. I am looking forward to employing them wherever we are needed."
175th Wing Commander Col. Scott Kelly said after the ceremony, "It is turning a page and looking to a new chapter. Our people with their expertise will take this to a new level."