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Tete-a-tete with a C-17 pilot

Nicolas Gill of the United States Air Force at Aero India 2011.

The presence of United States at Aero India 2011 was massive and truly impressive with fighters like F-16, F/A-18, etc fighters continuously mesmerising the public with its superb aerial displays. This year, US brought a beast at the airshow, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster-III. got an exclusive opportunity to see inside the aircraft including the cockpit, and also had a brief conversation with the USAF C-17 pilot, Nicolas Gillin. Nicolas is currently attending the airshow to promote C-17 Globemaster-III in India.

Q. The Indian Air Force (IAF) has shortlisted the Boeing C 17 Globemaster III as its new Very Heavy Lift Transport Aircraft (VHTAC) and the Government of United States of America has finalised the $4.1-billion sale of 10 C-17 Globemaster-III. What is your opinion on that and how C-17 would be beneficial for the IAF?

A: The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III military aircraft is a high-wing, four-engine, long-range transport aircraft capable of carrying payloads up to 169,000lb. C-17 is designed efficiently, incorporating a number of advanced features. I am pretty much sure that the C-17 Globemaster-III aircraft best meets the operational requirements of a Very Heavy Transport Aircraft (VHETAC) class for the Indian Air Force.

Q. Can you please describe the capabilities of the aircraft?

A: The C-17 Globemaster III is the newest, most flexible cargo aircraft to enter the airlift force. The aircraft has the capacity to carry a cargo of wheeled U.S. Army vehicles in two side-by-side rows. US Army mobile equipments M1 Abrams main battle tank, M2/M3 Bradley armored personnel carriers, approx four UH-60 Blackhawk transport helicopters, or up to two AH-64 Apache attack helicopters is easily carried by the plane. In addition, the C-17 makes use of blown flaps, vortex generators, and thrust reversers for exceptional short field performance. It can fly 2,400 nautical miles, and is manoeuvrable enough to reverse direction using a three-point turn. Its cockpit accommodates pilot, co-pilot and two observer positions. It drops a single 60,000-lb. payload, with sequential load drops of 110,000 lb. There are 54 seats on the sidewall and 48 in the center-line.

Q. As a pilot, what is your experience with the C-17?

A: I have been flying C-17 Globemaster-III for one and half years and have completed till date 500 flying hours. As C-17 pilot we only operate the C-17 Globemaster-III and our primary responsibility is to deliver troops, weapons and military equipment to military operations anywhere in the world. To describe the experience of flying a beast C-17 is not easy. You have to be in it to experience such a fantastic and unmatched feeling. I can only add that, there is nothing like the freedom you feel when you are high above the clouds. Every day is a blue sky day. I love being a C-17 pilot and I love every moment of my job.

Q. How was your first flight? Were you nervous on your first C-17 flight?

A: I wasn't nervous. I was a little anxious, but not about safety. And I wasn't afraid that I couldn't get the airplane off the ground, fly it successfully, or land it. I was more anxious about getting through the test points without screwing up. The C-17 flew much as I expected it to fly like a beast. My first flight lasted an hour and a half.

Q. How do you see Aero India 2011? Please share your experience on that?

A: I have been to many airshows worldwide. In India, this is my first time. This is Asia’s biggest airshow with so many countries and air force around the world participating in it. The Aero India team and the Defence Ministry of India are doing a great job in maintaining the higher standard of the show. Personally, I am loving every moment of being here. There are lots and lots of people visiting and all of them are interested to take photograph with me and the aircraft. And, there are others who are interested in defence and military technologies and want to know everything about the aircraft. It’s hectic but I am enjoying it, as not only in India, but in USA also you’ll find enthusiastic people who are interested in aircraft, etc and wants to take photographs with it. Overall, if given an opportunity I would definitely love to Visit India once again.


Aero India  USAF  C-17  Pilot  Interview  

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