Pilot Captain Matt Lloyd fulfilled his ‘white whale’ dream of flying the RAF’s Boeing C17 Globemaster III into Gibraltar for the first time on Thursday evening.
The cargo plane was on the Rock for logistic reasons, dropping off some passengers, exercise and operational freight before returning to RAF Brize Norton the Air Force base in the UK two hours later with a returning payload.
The flight to and from the UK takes about three hours and only a small amount of turbulence was experienced by Captain Lloyd as he landed from the East side of the Rock.
The C-17 is designed to land on runways as short as 3,500ft and as narrow as 90ft, the Rock’s runway is 6,000ft long and 147ft wide.
“The conditions were fairly stable today, I have heard a lot of wind shear happens here,” he said.
“We do a lot of planning to think about the events if we get those sorts of conditions and what we are going to do.”
“Thankfully the approach on the runway that we landed on [runway 27] gives you a bit of a longer go at getting stable. For diplomatic reasons if we come in on the reciprocal side [runway 09] we have to stay away from the Spanish frontier and it’s a lot trickier especially if it is windy,” he added.
Captain Lloyd has flown the C17 around the world twice and most recently he flew her to Tokyo.
The C17 is known for its cargo lifting capacity but while it is not the Air Force’s newest plane the pilot believed it “is the most capable.” It can normally carry just over 50 passenger but there has been cases where more have been on board. “We have had refuges in the event of an evacuation literally strapped down to the floor and we just get on as many as we can in those situations,” he said.
On Thursday, she had a crew of five on-board, Captain Lloyd, the co-pilot, air loadmaster and two engineers.
The C17 was Captain Lloyd’s first operational aircraft after training, before that he flew the Grob Tutor– a single engine fixed-wing aircraft and the King Air – a twin-turboprop aircraft.
He would like to fly the Airbus A400M Atlas, “that has capabilities that we aren’t doing at the moment [with the C17] like air drop and low level. I would quite like to get involved in that sort of environment,” he said.