March aircraft a hit in Denmark

A C-17 from March Air Reserve Base's 729th Airlift Squadron participated in the Aalborg, Denmark air show held this month at the Air Transport Wing of the Royal Danish Air Force. Approximately 72,000 people attended the air show.The crew conducted an air capabilities demonstration and then opened the aircraft to the many thousands of viewers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Davidson)

A C-17 from March Air Reserve Base's 729th Airlift Squadron participated in the Aalborg, Denmark air show held this month at the Air Transport Wing of the Royal Danish Air Force. Approximately 72,000 people attended the air show.The crew conducted an air capabilities demonstration and then opened the aircraft to the many thousands of viewers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Davidson)

A C-17 from March Air Reserve Base's 729th Airlift Squadron participated in the Aalborg, Denmark air show held this month at the Air Transport Wing of the Royal Danish Air Force. The crew conducted an air capabilities demonstration and then opened the aircraft to the many thousands of viewers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Davidson)

A C-17 from March Air Reserve Base's 729th Airlift Squadron participated in the Aalborg, Denmark air show held this month at the Air Transport Wing of the Royal Danish Air Force. The crew conducted an air capabilities demonstration and then opened the aircraft to the many thousands of viewers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Davidson)

A C-17 from March Air Reserve Base's 729th Airlift Squadron participated in the Aalborg, Denmark air show held this month at the Air Transport Wing of the Royal Danish Air Force. Attendees of the Aalborg airshow take a break in the shade of the massive cargo area of the aircraft before getting a glimpse of the flight deck. The crew conducted an air capabilities demonstration and then opened the aircraft to the many thousands of viewers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Davidson)

A C-17 from March Air Reserve Base's 729th Airlift Squadron participated in the Aalborg, Denmark air show held this month at the Air Transport Wing of the Royal Danish Air Force. Attendees of the Aalborg airshow take a break in the shade of the massive cargo area of the aircraft before getting a glimpse of the flight deck. The crew conducted an air capabilities demonstration and then opened the aircraft to the many thousands of viewers. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Joe Davidson)

MARCH AIR RESERVE BASE, CALIF. -- Approximately 72,000 Danes attended the annual Aalborg Air Base Air Show in Denmark last week where they witnessed an aircrew from the 729th Airlift Squadron at March pilot their C-17 Globemaster III in a spectacular air capabilities demonstration. 

"Our air demonstration is the best way to show the real capabilities of the aircraft and what it can do," said Lt. Col. Mike Fick, aircraft commander for the first portion of the demo. "I know that spectators are thrilled when they see the sharp angled banks and short radius 360 degree turns the aircraft can perform." 

As the Air Force's newest and most flexible cargo aircraft began its short distance takeoff, the roar of its engines, rated 40,440 pounds of thrust each, could be heard from far away. Onlookers, that included the Danish Minister of Defense, watched as it leapt into the air to perform a sharp angled climb then banked, causing many of the spectators to gasp in awe. 

Nearing the end of its demonstration, Lt. Col. Keith Guillotte, director of current operations at the 729th AS, took over the controls to bring the aircraft in for a short distance "tactical" landing.

The C-17 only needs approximately half a mile of runway to land or take off. That is about three times less than what is needed by other large cargo aircraft and enables the C-17 to accomplish a variety of missions in various locations, even places with dirt runways. 

"Oftentimes the length of the runway can be the limiting factor," said Colonel Guillotte. "We can go into places that a C-5 could never dream of. This exponentially increases the number of airfields we can land on across the planet." 

After landing, Colonel Guillotte performed a reversing maneuver using the aircraft's heads-up display and a spotter. Turning onto a taxiway, he then shut down the engines so the plane could be towed to its static display location. 

Master Sgt. Morten Hansen, a reservist and Military Education Instructor for the Royal Danish Air Force, was assigned as the aircrew's liaison at the air show. After watching the C- 17 in action, he said he was awed by its capabilities. 

"I am very happy I was able to see the aircraft and what it can do," said Hansen. "The air demonstration was very, very impressive and we are fortunate to have the rare opportunity to see this aircraft. I hope we are able to have this aircraft at our air show again next year." 

Once at the static display location, the back doors were opened and the loading ramp was lowered to allow the throngs of eagerly awaiting air show visitors their first look at the aircraft's spacious cargo area. Inside the belly of the aircraft, which has a payload capacity of 170,900 pounds, the spectators were given a quick view of the cargo area and the flight deck.

The Danish people seemed impressed by the capabilities and size of the aircraft and greeted members of the crew as they passed through the plane. 

"The C-17 is an impressive aircraft and for us to have it as part of an air display here serves two purposes," said Colonel Ole Ryberg, chief of the Air Transport Wing and base commander at Aalborg. "First, our intent for this air show was to display large transport aircraft and the C-17, of course, was viewed as an important participant in this area. Second, there is a consortium in place that is considering the purchase of the C-17. A display like this should help to encourage the discussions leading to an eventual purchase." 

Aalborg Air Base, which shares its runways and taxiways with civilian aircraft and is considered the country's third largest airport, held the air show in conjunction with several D-Day celebrations. D-Day refers to June 6, 1944 when the Allies invaded Normandy. 

The C-17 crew was in Europe for ten days. During their time there, in addition to the Aalborg Air Show, they conducted a flyover at Picauville, France, for their memorial dedication, a static display at Mont de Marsan, France, and attended D-Day ceremonies in Montebourg and Etienville, France.