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Loadmasters help reposition Australian Defense Forces
By Tech. Sgt. Shane A. Cuomo
Air Force Print News
TOWNSVILLE, Australia (AFPN) -- The U.S. Pacific Command is using its
strategic airlift capability to help the Australian Defense Force. At the
request of the Australian government, two C-17 Globemaster IIIs from Hickam
Air Force Base, Hawaii, are moving equipment and troops from the Solomon
Islands back to Australia. This will help Australia position its forces to
respond more rapidly to unrest in neighboring East Timor.
The biggest part of the mission ;involves the loading and unloading of
passengers and cargo.
"We're in charge of passenger safety (and) ensuring the cargo is loaded
correctly ... ;the weight and balance (must be) correct so that the
aircraft will fly safely," said Master Sgt. Mike Cumberland, a loadmaster
;with the 535th Airlift Squadron.
"Weight and balance, input incorrectly, can cause an aircraft to crash, so
we have a tremendous responsibility on our shoulders," he said.
With a full tank of fuel the C-17 can carry about 165,000 pounds of cargo
and passengers. With its flexibility the aircraft can get to just about any
airfield in the world and transport just about anything in the Department
of Defense inventory. So far Trek 21, the call sign for one of Hickam's
C-17s, has hauled approximately 100,000 pounds for the Australians.
"Being a loadmaster is great. There's a lot of responsibility in it,
there's a lot of travel, transporting the troops and cargo ;-- it's very
satisfying to be able to get everything in the plane on time and take off
on time and just get things done," said Airman James Ngo, a loadmaster
;with the 535th AS. ;