One month after a C-5
Galaxy crash-landed less than a mile short of the runway here,
recovery operations are proceeding on schedule, officials said. All
17 people on board survived the April 3 crash.
“We started the recovery effort the same day of the mishap
and have been working every day since,” said Maj. Rob
Triplett, the 436th Maintenance Squadron commander and director of
the mishap recovery effort. “Safety has been our number-one
priority. Our team’s primary focus, besides safety, was to
preserve vital evidence for the safety investigation
An 11-person team from the 653rd Combat Logistics Support
Squadron at Robins Air Force Base, Ga., along with C-5 engineers
and maintenance personnel from Dover are conducting a thorough
recovery of the aircraft.
“The most difficult part is coming up with all the
variables and solutions to problems,” said Chief Master Sgt.
Jon Lynn, 436th MXS superintendent.
“It takes teamwork to get everybody together to decide
what the best plan and the best course of action are to
Recovery efforts included removing the remaining fuel, the
engines, the left wing tip and cargo.
“Some fuel was spilled, but we were able to recover the
majority of the fuel from the aircraft itself,” Major
Triplett said. “Protecting the environment and protecting the
community are high priorities. (The community's) safety is of the
The base is coordinating with the Delaware Department of Natural
Resources and Environmental Control concerning any environmental
“The agreement at this point is that once the aircraft and
the parts are gone, we will do a full assessment in close
coordination with DNREC to make a decision on what type of
remediation methods will be used for the cleanup,” said Lt.
Col. Mark Ruse, the 436th Civil Engineer Squadron commander.
The nose section was moved first to make room for equipment to
level the aircraft, Major Triplett said. The airframe needed to be
stabilized to remove the cargo and engines. Hydraulic jacks were
used to level the aircraft, which was supported by more than 1,000
“We were able to remove the cargo," the major said. "Any
cargo that was damaged will go back to the shipping activity to be
either repaired or replaced. The cargo that was undamaged was put
back into the system for movement to its destination.”
The crew compartment, weighing more than 13,000 pounds, was
removed with a crane. Once it is released by the accident
investigation board, the compartment is expected to be used as a
training simulator at Robins, Major Triplett said.
When the board releases the aircraft, recovery experts
anticipate they will be able to reuse approximately 1,100 parts
after they have undergone extensive inspections. The remainder of
the aircraft will be salvaged on site, the major said.
Heavy equipment such as cranes, forklifts and high-reach
vehicles is being used to remove and salvage the aircraft. Experts
also are using power saws to cut up the structure.
All parts of the aircraft will remain on the site until released
by the accident investigation board. Once investigations are
complete, results should be released three months later. [ANN
Salutes Staff Sgt. James Wilkinson, 436th Airlift Wing Public