A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft of the 517th Airlift Squadron takes off from Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Monday, March 7, 2016. C-17s from JBER will conduct a flyover of Juneau on May 15, 2020, to celebrate first responders. (U.S. Air Force | Justin Connaher)

A C-17 Globemaster III aircraft of the 517th Airlift Squadron takes off from Bryant Army Airfield on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, Monday, March 7, 2016. C-17s from JBER will conduct a flyover of Juneau on May 15, 2020, to celebrate first responders. (U.S. Air Force | Justin Connaher)

Air Force and Air National Guard aircraft to conduct flyover

The demonstration comes on the heels of similar demos in the Lower 48.

A pair of the Air Force’s most versatile cargo aircraft will buzz Juneau at around noon on Friday as part of a demonstration of thanks towards medical and emergency personnel.

“It’s to boost a little morale for the communities, as a gesture of thanks towards those on the forefront of the COVID-19 response,” said Master Sgt. Jonathan Foster, public affairs specialist at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, in a phone interview. “Because defending the homeland has taken a new shape, we’re proud to serve alongside the first responders during these response efforts.”

The two aircraft, C-17 Globemaster IIIs, come from the Air Force’s 517th Airlift Squadron and the Alaska Air National Guard’s 144th Airlift Squadron. C-17s are purpose-built to transport troops, tanks or even smaller aircraft to and from the battlespace. They are capable of landing nimbly on short, poorly improved runways. The C-17’s maximum payload is approximately 170,000 lbs, or the weight of roughly 170 adult moose.

Foster said the flyover, which will include appearances in Wasilla, Palmer, Valdez, Cordova, Juneau, Ketchikan and Sitka, took a bit of coordination with local airports to make sure there was no take offs or landings scheduled during the flyover window, Foster said.

The flyover in Juneau is scheduled to take place precisely at noon, although a release from JBER cautioned that slippage and weather conditions may push the arrival of the aircraft 10 minutes to the left or right. The aircraft will be flying a single pass down the Gastineau Channel from north to south as they fly from Cordova to Ketchikan.

“If we do have to cancel we’ll look at possibly doing another flyover,” Foster said. “It’s been a little bit of an undertaking coordinating it all.”

• Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757.621.1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com.

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