NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- The C-9B Skytrain II and the personnel who operate and maintain them, have done their job so well that on May 8, a major milestone in naval aviation history was quietly passed.
Flight operations on that day marked the 30th anniversary of the Navy's acceptance and continuous utilization of the familiar C-9B "Skytrain II" for high-speed airlift and logistical support of naval operations around the world.
There are currently 23 Skytrains assigned to five Naval Reserve squadrons located throughout the United States.
These squadrons and their aircraft serve as the Navy's own airline in transporting personnel, high priority spare parts, cargo and mail, into and out of every theater of operations worldwide.
During calendar year 2002 alone, Skytrain aircraft accumulated more than 25,600 flight hours, transporting more than 250,000 personnel and 7 million pounds of cargo to locations throughout the world.
Currently, C-9B/DC-9 squadrons are Fleet Tactical Support Squadron (VR) 46 based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Atlanta, Ga.; VR-52 based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Willow Grove, Pa.; VR-56 based at NAS Norfolk, Va.; VR-57 based at NAS North Island, Calif.; and VR-61 based at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.
The C-9B aircraft is a modified McDonald Douglas DC-9 aircraft with all passenger, all cargo or passenger/cargo handling capabilities.
The ability to change interior configurations to meet the specific airlift mission, has afforded the C-9B a great deal of flexibility in supporting any manner of passenger and cargo mission requirements. In common with other convertible passenger/cargo versions, the C-9Bs differ from standard airline aircraft in having a large cargo door on the left side of the forward fuselage, along with other necessary cargo-handling features.
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