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    Highlight: PC-12 Pilatus Aircraft Gets Static Display At Cannon Air Force Base

    Pilatus PC-12 Retirement Ceremony (318th SOS)

    Photo By Staff Sgt. Nicholas Swift | U.S. Air Force Capt. Maeve Daw, 318th Special Operations Squadron U-28A Draco pilot,...... read more read more



    Courtesy Story

    27th Special Operations Wing

    CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- On May 16, 2008, Cannon Air Force Base re-activated the 318th Special Operations Squadron (318 SOS) into the 27th Special Operations Wing (27 SOW) after a 34 year hiatus. Now, 16 years later, the 318 SOS has the momentous occasion of retiring the first Trainer Variant of the U-28A program. The Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, registered as N581PC, will be getting its permanent retirement display alongside Cannon’s other retired aircraft such as “Gravedigger” an AC-130H Spectre gunship and an MQ-9 Reaper that line Air Commando Way near the base main gate.

    The Pilatus PC-12 is known around the world as ‘the most versatile’ and is valued as a business aircraft. For the Special Operations Groups of the Air Force Special Operations Command (AFSOC), it’s much more than that. Every day, Airmen of the 27 SOW take their first step to becoming a pilot through PC-12 training. Many of them having received their flight hours from training in aircraft N581PC, leaving those Airmen with great memories.

    “That's their first step, going through the PC-12. It's where the pilots get their training and how they know how to fly with the CSOs (Combat System Operator) as well as our TSOs (Technical Systems Expert). So, they're trained through that, and they're pushed out to go do real world operations. That's the importance of the PC-12. It's basically the first stepping block as they go out and actually be operational.” stated Capt. Jack Mullen, a Combat System Operator with the 318 SOS.

    The PC-12 wasn’t always used as a trainer, “We had a bunch of nonstandard aviation operations that were stood up in the early 2010s that operated in over 5 different AORs all around the world and really did a lot of military operations out there in what we call today, a PC-12.” explained Capt. Maeve Daw, a U-28A pilot who has trained and flown in the retired aircraft, sharing the history of the airframe and its contribution to today’s U-28A operations.
    The importance of Tail 581 is not only it’s contribution to the estimated 700,000 flight hours the PC-12 and U-28A airframes have logged worldwide, but also, it’s longevity of operation.

    When asked why the aircraft was being retired, Capt. Daw expressed the importance and incredible nature of the occasion, “We're still building squadrons. The U-28A fleet, and, when I say PC-12 and U-28A, they're relatively interchangeable, but we've been going for a very long time, and this is actually the first plane to go dead. The first plane that we can no longer extend past its life. It just has too many landings, too much stress on the airframe. So, that was the choice.”

    Capt. Daw and Capt. Mullen have been working on the display project alongside their command team for almost a year. Lt Col. Brandon Dues, Commander of the 318 SOS, gave a statement regarding the project and the retirement.

    “Air Force Special Operations Command has a long history of innovation and devising unique, tailored capabilities to changing battlefield needs. Amidst the Global War on Terrorism, the Non-Standard Aviation (NSAv) community was born out of rapidly fielding available, flexible airlift with low profiles to move people and cargo to support small special operations teams and partners located in rugged, austere terrain, typically inaccessible for traditional Air Force aviation capabilities. The 318th Special Operations Squadron spearheaded the efforts, fielding a light-, light/rugged-, and medium-type aircraft in the Pilatus PC-12, the Polish M-28, and the Dornier 328, respectively. This Pilatus PC-12, aircraft tail number N581PC/08-0581 represents both the AFSOC NSAv efforts with the PC-12 through intertheater airlift and a sister NSAv project through the U-28A Draco, serving as the initial training variant for that enterprise, logging 17,025.5 flying hours and 60 thousand landings. The 318 SOS was at the nexus of both NSAv projects, serving as an initial squadron for NSAv operations in 2008, and even winning the 2008 Air Force Safety Award for its efforts with multiple deployed locations, and eventually transitioning to U-28A operations in 2013. Aircraft 581 stands as a testament to the ingenuity and rapid fielding capability for all Air Commandos who dare to ‘solve for yes’ to today’s emerging challenges.”

    The 318 SOS and the PC-12 Pilatus aircraft have contributed much to the AFSOC Mission, to “Provide our Nation's specialized airpower capability across the spectrum of conflict. Any place, any time, anywhere.” The 318 SOS answered the call for improved counterterrorism operations with the NSAv mission. Additionally, they showcased versatility and flexibility in many operations with the use of three separate aircrafts utilized by one squadron, a feat unprecedented in Air Force history. At the heart of those efforts was the PC-12, paving the way for the U-28A enterprise and all other missions going forward. It’s contributions echo to everyone in the 318 SOS.

    At this time, the ceremony is scheduled for May 16, 2024, at the site of Tail 581’s final static display on Air Commando Way. To help close out and mark the end of the PC-12 Pilatus’s career, Col. Cary Mittelmark, Commander of the 27th Special Operations Group, is set to be the guest speaker at the ceremony. Col. Mittelmark worked on the NSAv mission between 2008 - 2013 as a PC-12 pilot when the 318 SOS was activated.

    The display will also house a placard that outlines the history and various accomplishments of PC-12 Pilatus N581PC such as the 17,025.5 logged flight hours completed in less than 17 years, another unprecedented feat in Air Force history, and 60,000 landings the small frame achieved. The following is also included, “This aircraft will always remind us of the loved ones we lost with the tragedy of Rachet 33 and Demise 25 that are ‘Gone But Never Forgotten’ as well as the many sacrifices and hard work that was endured to make the U-28A program what it is today.”



    Date Taken: 05.16.2024
    Date Posted: 05.17.2024 18:35
    Story ID: 471635

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