Air Transportation: The USAF Rodeo


August 12, 2009: For over half a century, the U.S. Air Force has hosted a competition, every two years,  among military air transport crews. The Air Mobility Rodeo this year included a hundred teams (2,500 personnel), mainly from the United States, but also seven foreign nations. The main events include; Aerial Port, Aeromedical Evacuation, Aircrew, Fit to Fight, Maintenance, and Security Forces.

There are several aircraft types competing (C-5, C-130, C-17, KC-10, and KC-135). One of the more prestigious prizes is for speed and accuracy of air drops. This year, that award was won by an Israeli C-130 crew. South Korea won the award for best foreign team. Several nations sent teams just to observe, and get a sense if they had a chance of eventually competing. The foreign teams like the opportunity to see American air mobility operations up close, and American crews like the chance to get together and see how different aircraft types operate, and simply meet others in the air mobility business.

The first Air Mobility Rodeo was held in 1956, while the first one involving air drops took place in 1962. Thirty years ago, foreign crews and aircraft were first invited to compete. There was no competition in 1988 because of money shortages, and in 2001-4 wartime demands on the U.S. military transport fleet caused the Rodeo to be cancelled.


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