Air Transportation: Improvisation


June 26, 2009: U.S. C-17 transports, delivering pallets of supplies to remote, and primitive airstrips, sometimes discover that these places do not have the special type of forklift needed to get the pallets off the C-17. There was, however, a backup procedure. This is called the combat offload. This method is simplicity itself. While sitting on a landing strip, the back loading platform of the C-17 is opened and the pallets to be "combat offloaded" have their tie downs undone, so the pallets can move freely on the floor. Then the aircraft, with the wheel brakes on, revs its engines up, pops the brakes, and moves quickly forward. The unsecured pallets in the back slide out of the aircraft and onto the ground. There, the people on the ground can move the ballet contents away by hand, truck or whatever.

C-17 crews rarely get to train using combat offloading, because it is used so rarely. But, as with so much else in Afghanistan, rare events often become common ones.


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