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Military Matters

Mar 1, 2014 1:33 PM by Cody Proctor (cody@krtv.com)

Montana Air National Guard welcomes first C-130

GREAT FALLS -- The first of the Montana Air National Guard's C-130 cargo planes arrived in Great Falls on Saturday morning.

This comes four months after the final F-15 fighter jets flew to their new home in Fresno, California.

In all, eight C-130 planes are set to come to Big Sky Country.

As a result of the change, the 120th Fighter Wing is now the 120th Airlift Wing.

To get ready, MT ANG has made several modifications to their hangar to make room for the larger aircraft.

In addition, several pilots who flew the F-15s have been training at Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas to prepare for the new mission.

Colonel Pete Hronek, the 120 AW commander, piloted the plane in from Reno, Nevada, and says the biggest change to the unit's culture will be the larger aircrews.

With the previous mission, only one pilot was needed to fly an F-15; the C-130s require more airmen for flying, including navigators, flight engineers and load masters.

He noted, "It's not just the pilots anymore. It's a lot more that can be more involved directly with this mission. So that's what I think is kind of fun."

And the new planes have many of the airmen excited, including Senior Master Sergeant Teresa Parker: "We're going to be able to help with humanitarian-type efforts and air-drops and things like that. So it's exciting when you get to do something new. And we're making history."

The remaining seven C-130s are scheduled to arrive by June.

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