440th Airlift Wing offers safe haven for Rhode Island aircraft

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  • By Adam Luther
  • 440 AW/PA
POPE FIELD - C-130J Hercules aircraft belonging to the 143rd Airlift Wing take refuge at Pope Field, N.C., on Feb. 6, 2013, as Winter Storm Nemo strikes its home base of Quonset Point Air National Guard Station, R.I.

Six C-130s made the trip from Quonset Point to Pope Field with an expected return date of Feb. 12, but with more winter storms on the horizon that date may be pushed backed.

"We are grateful to the Airmen of Pope Field for assisting the 143rd Airlift Wing in this time of need," said Col. Arthur J. Floru, 143rd Airlift Wing Commander. "The long standing total force relationship we have with the 440th Airlift Wing has proven its effectiveness time and time again."

One full crew and four maintenance personnel have remained at Pope Field while Winter Storm Nemo moves through the northeast. While only a few hour flight away from Quonset Point, Pope Field offers a strategic option to bases on the east coast because of the relatively mild winters.

"With any impending weather event that would not be healthy for our aircraft, units will assess the impending threat and look out to see where they can position aircraft and personnel where they will be safer and capable of use should the nation need those assets," said Col. Sharon Johnson, 440th Maintenance Group Commander.

"Between the volume of snow and the expected hurricane strength winds, Rhode Island made the decision to evacuate their aircraft. Severe hurricane-force winds can have a devastating effect on aircraft hydraulics and flight control systems. Once exposed, those systems require extensive inspections before they can be airworthy again," Johnson said. "Between our airfield operations personnel, operations group personnel, transient alert and the 440th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron; it was seamless to allow our C-130 brethren respite during the storm. We're glad we had the ramp space and resources to accommodate them!"

Winter Storm Nemo buried areas of the American Northeast in more than three feet of snow and left more than 600,000 people without power.

The C-130 Hercules is known as the work horse of combat airlift operations; often performing tactical portions of the U.S. Air Force airlift mission as it is capable of landing and taking off from rough dirt landing strips, and is apt for air dropping troops and equipment into hostile areas.