C-27J Spartan Visit a Success at the North Dakota Air National Guard
By Capt Penny Ripperger, 119th Wing Public Affairs
/ Published October 20, 2010
Fargo, N.D. -- "Welcome to North Dakota!" was shouted over the roar of the engines as a C-27J Spartan taxied to a stop at the 119th Wing on Thursday afternoon. The aircraft and crew were greeted by Airmen anxious to get their first peek at the aircraft that will be a future mission for the North Dakota Air National Guard.
A Familiarization Tour, conducted by L-3 Platform Integration, Alenia North America, and the companies' joint venture, Global Military Aircraft Systems (GMAS), took place at the 119th Wing Airbase today. The day was filled with briefings and familiarization flights for the Airmen and North Dakota National Guard leadership.
"Welcome to the absolute finest Guard unit in the country," said Gov. John Hoeven as he greeted the visitors this morning prior to the first flight. "We have great Guardsmen, both Soldiers and Airmen, throughout this country, but we are very proud of our North Dakota Guard members. They're doing a fantastic job with the C-21 Learjet and the unmanned aerial mission and we can't wait to get the C-27J aircraft."
In addition to Hoeven, Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, N.D. adjutant general also welcomed the visitors.
"I'm willing to bet it's your first time in North Dakota. I assure you as we fly over the state today, you're going to see some beautiful scenery, but more importantly you're going to meet some incredible people. I say that about all our men and women in uniform in North Dakota."
The aircraft flew three short familiarization flights during the visit. Airmen who will participate in the operation of the new aircraft, to include future C-27J pilots, maintenance personnel, loadmasters and flight operations personnel had priority to go on the flights.
Future C-27J loadmaster, Staff Sgt. Brandon Miller of the 177th Airlift Squadron, flew on one of the flights.
"It wasn't what I expected, it was so much more. I can't believe the performance of this aircraft," said Miller as he described his familiarization flight. "It's like giving your kids the keys to a Ferrari and telling them to go get groceries. It was such an awesome experience," he said.
The 119th Wing is scheduled to receive four C-27J aircraft in 2013. The C-27J mission will replace the current 'bridge mission' of the C-21 Learjet.
Airmen have been anticipating the C-27J mission since they lost their fighter aircraft mission in 2007. Seeing the aircraft up-close and getting the opportunity to ride in it has served to fuel the enthusiasm for the new mission.
"I'd leave for school tomorrow if I could, I'm that excited to get the C-27Js here, we all are - we're ready for this," said Miller.