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How much can you lift? The Mighty C-5M Super Galaxy

The C-5 Galaxy has been around a long time now. But that’s no reason not to celebrate it’s insane airlift capabilities! They’re just as amazing and relevant today as they were during the ramp-up of the Cold War. Below we’ll take a look at some of the amazing specs, crazy photos, and some great first-hand accounts of flying the largest plane in the US Air Force.

C-5M super Galaxy lifts off at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., Jan. 13, 2017. Aircrews fly the new M-model around the world supporting Department of Defense missions with improved capabilities such as fuel efficiency, reduced noise and greater payloads. The Travis AFB mission provides Rapid Global Mobility quickly and decisively in response to unexpected challenges. (U.S. Air Force photo/ Heide Couch)

Just how big is the C-5?

The C-5’s scale is immense, a challenge wrap your mind around at times. Check out some incredible comparisons of the size of the C-5 Galaxy.

That helicopter is large enough to transport up to 38 troops, and the C-5 can still carry it!

The C-5 Galaxy isn’t the largest plane flying in the sky today. But no other fleet of aircraft in the world can match the over-size cargo airlift ability of the US Air Force’s C-5 aircraft. Whenever a situation calls on it, the US Air Force C-5s can move massive cargo thousands of miles at very fast speeds. That ability can be invaluable in certain geo-political situations, including disaster relief efforts.

What can the C-5 carry?

U.S. Navy Sailors with Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 12, HM-14 and HM-15 assist U.S. Air Force Airmen from the 22nd Airlift Squadron in loading a retired Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter, purchased by the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) and H-53 Heavy Lift Helicopter Program Office (PMA-261), into a C-5M Super Galaxy at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, June 9, 2017. The helicopter will be delivered to a facility in Medford, Oregon, where it’s expected to be restored before continuing to Naval Station Norfolk. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Joseph Abrego)

They are often used to transport cargo like tanks, helicopters, and weapons systems for fast-response of US military assets nearly anywhere in the world. One of the largest helicopters flown by the US military is the CH-53 Stallion. That helicopter is large enough to transport up to 38 troops, and the C-5 can still carry it! Attack helicopters also are commonly transported by the C-5, getting Marine and Army air power into the area quickly.

Sgt. Destin Waldron is the top side spotter on a UH-1Y the latest marine aircraft based on the workhorse “Huey” utility helicopter. The helicopter is being winched into a C-5B to determine the ramps and positions to safely transport as many of these and the new AH-1Z Super Cobra (seen beside the C-5). C-5 Galaxy and crew from the 22nd Airlift Squadron, aerial porters from the 60th Aerial Port Squadron, Marines from Marine Light Attack Helicopter 367 and helicopters and crew assigned to HMLA/Training 303, Camp Pendleton, Calif., and contractors came together at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., to determine how the new UH-1Y and AH-1Z helicopters best fit into the cargo bay of the C-5 Galaxy. The efforts of this day will determine load numbers and configurations of these helicopter inside the C-5. It is expected that these new helicopters will begin to be delivered to Iraq and Afghanistan by the end of 2009. The helicopters differ significantly from previous versions.with it’s 4-blade composite rotors, T-700 engines, and a stronger transmission. These and many other upgrades improved power, maximum altitudes, reliability, maintainability and combat survivability of these helicopters. Waldron is a crew chief with HMLA/367, Camp Pendleton.

What’s it like to fly the C-5?

In one C-5 pilot’s experience, the hardest part of flying the largest plane in the US Military is actually taxiing it to and from the runway. “With its wide body and large wingspan it’s challenging. You can see the wing tips from the cockpit, but you can’t determine exactly where they are, so you have to utilize clock positions on the outboard engines to figure out where the wingtip is and how far away from an obstacle it is.” In the sky it’s a lot like other planes, but on the ground its size can make it a whole different beast.

A C-5M Super Galaxy aircrew member looks out the number 1 escape hatch as the aircraft taxis down the flight line prior to takeoff June 13, 2019 at Dover Air Force Base, Del. The Super Galaxy took off as a rainstorm approached the base. There are 18 C-5Ms are assigned to Dover. (U.S. Air Force photo by Roland Balik)

The Future: C-5M Super Galaxy

A C-5 Galaxy with Dover Air Force Base, Delaware is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker with the 121st Air Refueling Wing, Ohio July 27, 2018. The C-5 connected with two Stratotankers with the 121st ARW on this exercise. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Airman 1st Class Tiffany A Emery)

After decades of Airlift service in the Air Force, the Pentagon sought an upgrade to the aircraft. The C-5M Super Galaxy upgrades include a new set of engines, enabling greater range and fuel economy, cockpit avionics upgrades, and airframe restoration. These upgrades are sure to see Air Force Galaxies flying for many more decades to come.