The final Lockheed C-5A Galaxy took her last flight today. Tail 70-0461 departed from Westover Air Reserve Base to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base outside Tucson, Arizona. The jet will be decommissioned and stored. Over time, it will most likely be parted out and eventually scrapped.
The Air Force originally flew a total of 81 C-5As, part of a total fleet of 131 C-5 A/B/C models. While the C-5A fleet is now retired, the C-5 will continue to fly as the upgraded C-5M. The conversion to the C-5M Super Galaxy began in 2009 with ‘low rate production’. Since then, 56 aircraft have been converted. The C-5M has ‘new’ CF-6 engines along with a number of system improvements meant to reduce maintenance requirements.
Westover Air Reserve Base flew the final four C-5A models in the Air Force. Since our last report, the final four have slowly been retired to the Boneyard with tail 70-0461 having the distinction of the last flight. Its sister-tail, 70-0451 was flown to Travis Air Force Base where it will eventually be displayed at the Travis Air Force Base Heritage Center in Fairfield, California.
This is truly the end of an era in heavy-lift aviation. The strategic airlifter was loud, noisy, and a maintenance hog. Yet it flew hundreds of thousands of troops to conflicts from Vietnam to Desert Storm to OEF, OEF, and HOA. The TF-39s that were slung below the wing had the distinction of being the first high-bypass turbofans in the Air Force inventory. They could lift nearly a million pounds of airplane into the sky in the most austere environments.
While it may be hard to believe it, airman and avgeeks will never again hear the distinctive whine of FRED’s engines. A toast and a moment of silence for the original FRED. So long, buddy.