Military Aviation


The first operational C-5 was delivered to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base (now known as Joint Base Charleston, S.C.) in Jun. 1970

Taken on Jun. 30, 1969,  the interesting photo in thiS article features the first U.S. Air Force (USAF) Preliminary Evaluation flight of the C-5A Galaxy conducted by the C-5A Test Force, that composed of Air Force Flight Test Center and Military Airlift Command personnel.

The first operational C-5 was delivered to the 437th Airlift Wing, Charleston Air Force Base (now known as Joint Base Charleston, S.C.) in Jun. 1970.

In Mar. 1989, the last of 50 C-5Bs was added to the 76 C-5As in the Air Force’s airlift force structure. The C-5B included all C-5A improvements as well as more than 100 additional system modifications to improve reliability and maintainability.

Based on a study showing 80 percent of the C-5 airframe service life remaining, Air Mobility Command (AMC) began an aggressive program to modernize the C-5 in 1998. The C-5 Avionics Modernization Program included upgrading the avionics to improve communications, navigation and surveillance/air traffic management compliance. The upgrade also added new safety equipment and installed a new autopilot system.

Another part of the C-5 modernization plan is a comprehensive Reliability Enhancement and Re-engining Program (RERP). The centerpiece of this program is the General Electric CF6-80C2 (F-138) commercial engine. This engine delivers a 22 percent increase in thrust, a 30 percent shorter take-off roll, has a 58 percent faster climb rate and will allow significantly more cargo to be carried over longer distances. With its new engine and other system upgrades, the RERP modified C-5A/B/Cs become C-5Ms, Super Galaxy. This modernization program will make the C-5 much quieter (FAA Stage 4 Compliant) and enhance aircraft reliability and maintainability, maintain structural and system integrity, reduce cost of ownership and increase operational capability well into the 21st century.

This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. C-5M Super Galaxy 60th Air Mobility Wing, 349th Air Mobility Wing, 22nd Airlift Squadron, 07-0042 – Travis AFB, CA.

Photo credit: Undated Edwards History Office file photo

Artwork courtesy of

Source: 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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  • I love the photo, but something doesn't quite seem right.

    The date is given as June 30, 1969. I don't dispute that it was on that date the first USAF Preliminary Evaluation flight took place, I just don't think this is a photo of that event.

    The nose boom was flown on a total of three C-5s, during the late '60s and early '70s on the first and second C-5As AF66-8303 and AF66-8304, and then in 2005 on the first C-5M AF86-0013. (It was never flown on a C-5B.)

    The nose boom was first flown on 8303 and remained there until the the airplane was destroyed in a flight line fire at Lockheed on October 19, 1970. It was after that date that the nose boom was attached to C-5A number 2, AF66-8304.

    The photo above clearly shows "68304" on the tail, and the digits "0002" (indicating, obviously, that it's the second C-5) on the nose. The presence of the digits further indicates that the airplane is still "Lockheed property," it hasn't yet been officially delivered to the Air Force. (Every C-5 carried one of these four-digit production numbers between rollout and USAF acceptance, the numbers ran from 0001 to 0131.)

    This photo cannot possibly have been taken any earlier than October of 1970. It cannot be a first flight acceptance test from June 1969.

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