Arrival of eighth aircraft completes unit's newly assigned fleet

  • Published
  • By Maj. Bryon M. Turner
  • 103rd Airlift Wing, Public Affairs
The Airmen of the 103rd Airlift Wing reached a key moment in their mission-conversion efforts when the unit's eighth newly-assigned C-130H Hercules aircraft arrived at Bradley Air National Guard Base, East Granby, Connecticut, Oct. 15, 2014.

The Flying Yankees began their ongoing conversion process from C-21 aircraft operations to the current C-130H mission in June of 2013.  The first C-130H assigned to the unit arrived on Sept. 24, 2013, and now, just over a year later, the unit's fleet is whole.

"This milestone is incredibly important for the Flying Yankees because the longevity and proud history of the C-130 bodes so well for the future of the Connecticut Air National Guard," said Col. Frank Detorie, commander of the 103rd Airlift Wing.

For Master Sgt. Daniel Taylor, a sheet metal mechanic and small shop chief assigned to the 103rd Maintenance Group, the arrival of the unit's eighth assigned aircraft means something very important.

"Job security," said Taylor.  "Having all eight of them here--you have that feeling you're going to be here for a while, and with a new sense of pride in the aircraft and our mission."

The first seven aircraft are easily identifiable and unmistakably assigned to the Flying Yankees thanks to tail markings unique to the Connecticut Air National Guard.  This newly assigned eighth C-130H is still being customized by Master Sgt. Joseph Mazzie, and Tech. Sgt. Paul Martin, both structural maintainers assigned to the 103rd Maintenance Group.

"I'm just glad to be finishing up with the last C-130," said Mazzie.  "It feels good to have all of our planes here with the unit's tail flash.

The wing's C-130H aircraft are adorned with the unit's traditional black and yellow thunderbolt along with the likeness of the late Capt. Joseph Wadsworth, the legendary figure who hid the state's charter in an oak tree to protect it from British soldiers during colonial times. The artwork borrows elements from the wing's patch, as well as markings that once decorated some of the unit's past aircraft, paying homage to wing's proud history.

"We are now inextricably tied to the tactical airlift mission and our conversion to the venerable Hercules points to a very bright future at Bradley," said Detorie.

With a flightline full of iron, the Airmen of the 103rd Airlift Wing have their attention fixed on the future, with a focus on completing the aircraft conversion process.

"Now we can focus on our developing mission," said Martin.

The unit is projected to achieve initial operational capability in 2016, at which time they will move beyond the conversion stage. In the meantime, the men and women of the Flying Yankees continue to focus on developing and sharpening their skills.