Vigilantes reactivate Charging Charlie

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Eric Peterson
  • 120th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office
The aircrew of two C-130 Hercules transport aircraft assigned to the 120th Airlift Wing of the Montana Air National Guard made their first training cargo parachute drops on the Charging Charlie Drop Zone at Malmstrom Air Force Base December 17.

During the inaugural training mission to the drop zone, the aircraft loadmasters dropped 15-pound sandbags attached to five foot parachutes from the C-130s. Two passes were made over the drop zone giving the aircrews a chance to drop training cargo once from the lowered ramp and once from the side door of the aircraft.

According to 120th AW leadership the use of the drop zone at Malmstrom will provide a safe and efficient method of training aircrew and air transportation specialists and will result in the savings of resources and time.

"Currently, we have drop zones scattered all over the state," said 120th AW Commander Col. Lee Smith. "But those are two and a half, three hours away by drive, so having one closer to home we can get more passes in and it's safer really for our ground crews that have to drive those distances to go pick up the loads that they drop."

The Charging Charlie Drop Zone is situated next to the closed runway at Malmstrom and is less than seven miles away from the 120th AW base located at the Great Falls International Airport.

341st Missile Wing and 120th AW leadership both credit the strong relationship and coordination developed between the active duty Air Force and Air National Guard wings.  

"We've got a great community relationship between the active-duty Malmstrom Air Force Base, the 120th Airlift Wing and the community of Great Falls," 341st MW Commander Col. Tom Wilcox said. "And this further solidifies and brings that together and meshes our two operations to provide the state of Montana and the United States the best capability ever."

"Right now we enjoy a fantastic relationship with our total force partners at Malmstrom," Smith said. "We get to see what Malmstrom does on a day-to-day basis. This is our opportunity to show what the airlift experience is."

According to Smith, the training mission was considered a success.
"It was fantastic," Smith said. "We had beautiful weather. The crews did a great job. The drop scores reflect that and so we're extremely pleased."

Wilcox said the drop zone was initially surveyed and created in 1996 for use by the 819th RED HORSE Squadron and named after the heavy-construction unit's mascot, Charging Charlie.