Training C-17 masters of the globe

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Cody Dowell
  • Altus Air Force Base Public Affairs

Before a C-17 Globemaster III student even steps foot in an aircraft, various steps of training are accomplished to ensure proficiency.  

For C-17 student training, the initial qualification curriculum consists of three different phases. The first phase is learning technical instructions through Computer Based Trainings, which focuses on providing the foundational knowledge of aircraft systems, normal and emergency procedures, and operating limitations that the aircrew need to successfully operate the C-17. Next is practicing and applying knowledge through simulators, which provides a safe and economical way for students to gain practical hands-on understanding of the various academic topics, aircraft operating procedures, and gain basic C-17 qualification. Finally, once all the ATS learning objectives are completed, students get to progress to the flight-line where they operate the aircraft and gain their basic mission employment qualification. 

Before operating simulators, initial qualification students solely dedicate their time by studying CBTs. The initial stage of training is for students to familiarize themselves with all the specific aspects of the C-17 before applying their skills in a controlled environment.


“All together for student loadmasters and pilots of the C-17, there are around 300 CBTs and 700 simulator lessons in total,” said Debra Webb, an education technologist at Altus Air Force Base for C2 Technologies Inc. “These C-17 lessons are for initial, upgrade and instructor training service wide, as well as the foundation for training programs made by U.S. allies utilizing the aircraft.” 


Once finished with the CBT’s, C-17 students transition to simulated lessons through their respected careers. The loadmaster students train on two separate simulators based off the loadmaster’s station and cargo area for configuration familiarity.


“For the loadmaster students they get to train on a Cargo Compartment Trainer, which is identical to the C-17 with all the vital aspects including switches and panels, excluding the loadmaster’s station,” said Jaime Buentello, a vehicle maintenance technician and heavy equipment operator at Altus AFB for C2 Technologies Inc. “Part of being a loadmaster is directing cargo loading, learning how to take charge, building confidence, which requires hands on training. The students go through about 14 different qualification lessons to ensure they are ready for the day they get to step on the actual aircraft.”


During the simulations, instructors grade the students on their ability to perform every task to ensure training readiness. Just like the loadmasters, C-17 pilots get their preflight hands-on training utilizing a single simulator based off the cockpit of the aircraft.


“The main goal of the simulators is to expose the student pilots to normal and emergency situations before their first take off,” said David Pelletier, a C-17 simulation pilot instructor from FlightSafety international. “For as long I can remember the steps of learning have been the same, but the capabilities of how we can teach it with evolving technologies has improved. Obviously dollar cost is different with training on the ground instead of the air, but being able to practice emergency situations in a controlled environment is invaluable aspect in training.”


According to William Mickley, the site manager for C-17 training systems from FlightSafety international, All of the current simulators, and training are to ensure the readiness of the students for the different mission sets around the globe.


“The training we perform here at Altus AFB is a cornerstone of our nation’s ability to project power across the globe,” said Mickley. “Every humanitarian relief mission flown by the United States, every response to protect a national interest abroad, and the success of every conflict in the past 25 years has been facilitated by Altus AFB, the C-17 training program, and our surrounding community. The importance to the base is notable, but the real benefit of the training is the capability it affords our country.”