An Air Force reserve crew flew from JBSA-Lackland to Houston with relief supplies on Wednesday. It was the first heavy cargo load to be airlifted to the flood-ravaged city.
During the late afternoon on Wednesday, Maj. Timothy Wade stood next to a line of massive C-5M aircraft at the 433rd Airlift Wing’s flight line at JBSA-Lackland.
“What we’re witnessing here is tail 6021 being loaded with cargo destined for Houston’s Bush International Airport," he explained.
The mission was to drop off 80,000 pounds of supplies to those affected by Hurricane Harvey.
“It is 25 pallets of material that is slowly being loaded into this large aircraft that can fit nine city buses," Maj. Wade said.
An engine-powered lift rolled up to the back of the plane and deposited supplies, including water, oxygen tanks, and generators. The pallets were so heavy that the lift engine blew smoke.
The 433rd Airlift Wing regularly transports heavy loads. A load master makes sure that weight is evenly distributed inside of every plane. If there's a loss of balance, the plane could crash.
“It’s dire important that all of those calculations are spot on, or we could have a catastrophe," Maj. Wade said.
He remembers when the 433rd mobilized after Hurricane Sandy to transport electrical equipment and crews needed for restoring power in New Jersey.
On Monday, the airlift wing received tentative word that their services would be needed again in the wake of Harvey. The original supply request came from Governor Abbott and made its way down through the United States Transport and Air Mobility Commands.
Captain Philip Cortez of the 433rd said more missions are likely.
‘This is just a start. We hope to have many more missions in the next couple of days going over to the Houston and Corpus Christi areas, and supporting our families over there, and supporting the other first responders in their time of need.”
Supplies from the airlift mission will go toward establishing a medical hub at Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental Airport. A team of 70 medical personnel from the 59th Medical Wing will stay in Houston to get the hub established.