TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE — Exactly 3 hours, 45 minutes after Lt. Col. Erik Fisher sends the group text message, his Travis Air Force Base crew of six are on board and wheels up.
The Fairfield resident and his fellow airmen are bound Thursday for San Diego in a C-17 cargo plane, tasked on a humanitarian mission to southern Mexico to deliver 12 pallets worth of disaster relief supplies.
An 8.1 magnitude earthquake rocked the region’s people and infrastructure Sept. 7 and left almost 100 dead.
After a successful airlift Friday to Ixtepec, Oaxaca, to deliver relief supplies to this southern region of Mexico, they will attempt to return the next day with 15 more pallets to the Mexican air force base; instead, they will find out midflight Saturday that the airport’s runway was damaged overnight by another quake and they’ll have to plan to land in Mexico City instead.
In what seems like a year replete with natural disasters, these airmen and other C-17 crews at Travis Air Force Base have had their work cut out for them. Their plane – capable of handling both large amounts of cargo and short and unfavorable runways – is a go-to for the Federal Emergency Management Agency when it needs military support. The plane and its Air Force personnel mean ample humanitarian missions and an immeasurable impact by these local heroes.
Capable of hauling 585,000 pounds and staffed with a flexible crew, it’s a frequent partner for those who need help in the kind of conditions that follow calamity.
“It’s pretty much the fighter jet of cargo airplanes,” quips Staff Sgt. Jeremy Carrillo, the mission’s flying crew chief and a Vacaville resident.
The 21st Airlift Squadron that flies the plane logs 15 to…