Final delivery of new C-17 to touch down in Charleston

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - After 20 years of deliveries, the last C-17 Globemaster III that will call Charleston home will be on final approach at Joint Base Charleston Thursday evening.

The C-17 is known for its enormous size and versatility in its airlift missions. The C-17 can travel with only a crew of three and can carry 102 paratroopers as well as 170,000 pounds of cargo.

The C-17 can be re-fueled while in mid-air, giving it the capacity to fly around the globe without stopping.

"It's the only airplane that can take off and fly around the world and deliver cargo right to the front," said Lt. Col. Matthew Leard, Commander of the 437th Operations Support Squadron.

Leard is frequently behind the C-17 controls having flown over 4,000 hours in the blue skies.

"It's very comfortable. It's not unlike flying in a commercial airline in regards to what it feels like up at cruise," Leard said. "I like flying around the world. I like to see different places and the C-17 has always been great because no matter where you are you can wake up and that night be back at home."

The final delivery of the C-17 Thursday from California will make a total number of 54 C-17s in the fleet at Joint Base Charleston.

Military officials said the aircraft has been a success in military missions across the globe.

"In Haiti we did a lot of humanitarian air-drops -- those were all based out of Charleston," Leard said. "Operationally, the things that it's been able to do in Iraq and Afghanistan without the C-17 we just would not have been able to conduct those operations."

A ceremony for the final delivery will take place 5 p.m. at Joint Base Charleston.