Military cargo plane pays Ketchikan a visit, but Air Force won’t say where it’s headed

A C-17 Globemaster from Joint Base Lewis-McChord takes off from Ketchikan International Airport Monday afternoon. The military transport plane arrived Sunday. (Eric Stone/KRBD)

A heavy military cargo plane landed at Ketchikan’s airport over the weekend. But military officials are mum on what the Washington state-based C-17 Globemaster is doing here.

Ketchikan’s airport manager Alex Peura says the civilian airport has only been given a bare-bones briefing.

“They scheduled a few days before they arrived that they’d be here from 1:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, and they were departing 1:00 in the afternoon today, Monday. And other than that, I really don’t know any more about it — why they’re here, what they’re doing, where they’re heading,” he said in a phone interview Monday.

Military officials in Tacoma confirmed the C-17’s presence in Ketchikan was related to a “current mission.”  But Air Force spokeswoman Sarah Amato of the 62nd Airlift Wing at Joint Base Lewis-McChord declined to comment further, citing operational security concerns.

Though an airport fire truck approached the plane with lights flashing at least once on Sunday, Peura says it was just a drill.

One of Ketchikan’s airport fire trucks posed for a photo with the visiting cargo plane Sunday. (Photo courtesy of Nathan Whatmore)

“They do random training, they fire them up, they run them down the runway frequently, just to keep them going … I don’t think that had anything to do with the aircraft being here,” he said.

A representative of the company that handles ground operations at Ketchikan’s airport said the plane took on fuel while in town. Peura says it’s relatively common for military aircraft to overnight and refuel at Ketchikan’s airport en route to other destinations.

The C-17 Globemaster has a 170-foot wingspan and is one of the largest heavy transports in the U.S. Air Force. Its primary mission is long-range transport for troops and cargo and is capable of in-flight refueling.

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