Losses and Aviation Safety

Correction: USAF C-17 Reach 871 safely evacuated 823 (not “only” 640) Afghan citizens from Kabul. 183 children were also aboard.

Reach 871, a USAF C-17 Globemaster III, safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 15, 2021. This is a record for this aircraft.

According to Air Mobility Command (AMC) Facebook Page, a US Air Force (USAF) C-17 Globemaster III safely transported 823 Afghan citizens from Hamid Karzai International Airport on Aug. 15, 2021. This is a record for this aircraft.

The C-17 (call sign Reach 871) was from the 436th Air Wing, based at Dover Air Force Base (AFB), Delaware.

On Aug. 15, an audio from the crew estimating they were carrying 800 passengers was posted online but an anonymous defense official then said the true number was about 640 people.

But now AMC says that the initial count of 640 inadvertently included only adults. 183 children were also aboard.

The original number was based on how many bus seats were filled departing the aircraft and didn’t account for the number of children in laps.

Reach 871 was one of several flights that were able to take off with hundreds of people aboard.

As explained by one defense official, Reach 871 (like every other C-17 involved in the ongoing Kabul evacuation) was not aimed to take on such a large load, but panicked Afghans who had been cleared to evacuate pulled themselves onto the Globemaster III’s half-open ramp.

“The crew made the decision to go,” instead of trying to force those refugees off the aircraft.

On Aug. 18 Gen. Jacqueline Van Ovost, AMC Commander, said:

“Mobility Warriors,

“The bravery, professionalism, and adaptability displayed by the men and women of Air Mobility Command over the past few days were and continue to be awe-inspiring. When our nation called, you maneuvered the joint force forward within hours. You bolstered the capability to secure Kabul International Airport in a rapidly changing environment, facilitating swift movement of people and equipment. These actions were inspirational and only made possible by a team of thousands of dedicated Total Force Mobility Airmen worldwide.

“I want to make clear you have my trust and confidence through the challenging days ahead. You are the world’s best trained and most capable air mobility force. Your leadership understands these unprecedented circumstances, and we will empower and support you as you continue to transport Americans and Afghan partners out of harm’s way. Remember, disciplined OPSEC is vital for all Airmen as information can have immediate and negative strategic impacts, particularly in the digital age, putting operations at risk.

“I am impressed by the courageous, can-do spirit our force continues to demonstrate. This Mobility Warrior spirit gives me confidence that we will continue safely delivering for our nation. I am proud to serve alongside you as we live our vision, Air Mobility Warriors Projecting Decisive Strength and Delivering Hope… Always!”

CLICK HERE to read our detailed analysis of the ongoing air-bridge from Kabul.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. C-17A Globemaster III 60th Air Mobility Wing / 349th Air Mobility Wing, 21st Airlift Squadron, 06-6160 – Travis AFB, CA

Photo credit: U.S. Air Force

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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