Military cargo planes like the giant Lockheed C-5 Galaxy cargo plane, as well as the smaller and much more nimble Northrop T-38 Talon trainer, frequently use SMF and Mather Airport (MHR) for training.
“We are very proud to partner with our military colleagues and we are happy to provide them this opportunity,” said Cindy Nichol, Director of Airports, Sacramento County Airport System.
Other military aircraft, including the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, the McDonnell Douglas KC-10 Extender, and the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker can also be seen conducting pattern and approach training exercises at SMF and Mather.
This is done for a variety of reasons, the most important being pilot familiarization for both military and commercial use airports.
Operating from a military airfield and into a commercial airport can provide a different environment for both military pilots and commercial aviation personnel. For the pilots of these aircraft, it’s important to interact with civilian air traffic controllers and with civilian airfields in general.
“The reality is they need that training because they don’t just use specific military airfields,” said Joe Conklin, SMF Senior Airport Manager. “They have to be very familiar with different types of airport environments. It’s important for them to understand that process.”
Recently personnel from Beale AFB flew a T-38 into SMF to conduct a familiarization exercise with SMF staff to share valuable information by taking a first-hand look at a T-38. SMF does not have a T-38 to train with, so SMF Airport Fire, Operations and Sherriff’s deputies took the opportunity to educate themselves on things like how to release a canopy, make safe the ejection system and a variety of other life safety items.
“Should an incident ever occur at any of our Airports, this face-to-face and hands on training will make the response and recovery on both sides more efficient. It is important to sit down and talk about the needs and requirements on both side in advance; during any emergency is not the time to build those relationships,” said Sheri Thompson-Duarte, Deputy Director, Operations & Maintenance.
Further site visits by aircraft from Travis AFB are currently being planned.