ROYAL NAVAL AIR STATION YOEVILTON, U.K. –
Citizen Airmen from the 701st Airlift Squadron set the bar high by flying the first C-17 low-level pass through the “Mach Loop” and captured another win for their static display at the Yeovilton International Air Day at Royal Naval Air Station, U.K. Friday and Saturday.
This was the third year for the Reservists to attend the air show and it provided them an opportunity to train several pilots and crew on the task of flying their C-17 Globemaster III aircraft at low altitudes in what is known as the Mach-Loop. The Mach-Loop derives its namesake from the town that is situated at the circuit’s southernmost point, Machynlleth, Wales.
Lt. Col. Stephen Bartosh, a 701st AS pilot and aircraft commander for this mission, explained that several months of preparation went into organizing and planning this unique training opportunity.
“Training is something that we do on a routine basis back in Charleston,” said Bartosh. “However, we are located in the Lowcountry and most of the terrain is at or below sea-level. Allowing some of our junior pilots and crew to experience low-level training in this type of mountainous environment will carry forward in real-world missions and sharpen their skills as a flight crew.”
In addition to these crew members honing their skills as military aviators, this was the first time a C-17 had flown the Mach-Loop, which is comprised of a series of steep, grass-covered valleys in central Wales that allows aircraft to fly as low as 250 feet from the ground.
“This was an experience I will never forget,” said Capt. Bryan Chianella, a 701st AS pilot. “Although I was not piloting the aircraft during the training, being able to observe and watch the more seasoned pilots maneuver the jet through the valleys provided me with an appreciation for their skillset and allowed me to make mental notes going forward on what I need to be continuously focused on should I find myself flying in this type of environment.”
After the aircrew completed two passes through the Mach-Loop on Friday, word was out about them being the first C-17 to do so and it was evident at Saturday’s static display during the RNAS Yeovilton International Air Day show. Hundreds of attendees waited in long lines throughout the day to tour the aircraft and meet the all-Reserve aircrew behind the previous day’s training mission.
“It was impressive to see the number of people waiting upwards of thirty minutes to an hour just to tour our jet,” said Master Sgt. Thomas McGhee, a 701st AS loadmaster who worked the que line during the event. “I love interacting with the public and sharing our mission. The people here are so nice and engaging and enjoy having us back year-after-year.”
Commodore Nick Tindal, commanding officer of RNAS Yeovilton said that the C-17 and its Charleston-based crew are a huge draw for their annual air day and they are welcome to return any time.
As the event came to a close Saturday evening and thousands of attendees streamed out the gates of RNAS Yeovilton, it was time to enjoy the comradery of fellow international military partners and show participants with the announcements of the winners for the various air show categories. To the aircrew’s surprise and for the third year in a row, Charleston took first place for “Best Static Display.”
“We are humbled and honored to have won this award for the third time,” said Bartosh. “We do not come for the trophies, we come because of the great relationship forged with the folks at RNAS Yeovilton and appreciation from the local residents that has been forged over the past few years. Our team will continue to attend this event as long as we keep getting invited to do so.”