ALTUS, Okla. (AP) _ A cargo plane that is being phased out in favor of the more technologically advance C-17 took off from Altus Air Force Base one last time on Tuesday.
Capt. Doug Hall and Staff Sgt. Marc Bolinger became the final trainees of the C-141 Starlifter, which will no longer be housed in Altus. Airmen at the Altus base will bid farewell to the C-141 in a July 28 ceremony.
``I think it's kind of good to see how the Air Force is moving forward,'' said Bolinger, 27, a student engineer. ``The older stuff is being phased out, and the newer equipment is being brought in. Sentimental? I don't know.
``But it's nice to know I'm one of the last guys to be trained on the old plane.''
Altus first began training pilots on the C-141 in 1969, five years after the plane's introduction into the Air Force. Now, only five C-141s remain housed in giant hangars at the Altus base.
``For us, this is kind of sad,'' said Maj. Michael Joyal, 35, a flight instructor who accompanied Hall and Bolinger on their final training mission. ``The C-141 has been involved in a lot of history. When the POWs were brought back from Vietnam, they were brought back on the C-141.''
Along with Hall, Bolinger and Joyal, two others made the flight to Shreveport, La., before returning to Altus. The four-hour trip was supposed to include a mid-air refueling exercise.
Bolinger anticipates moving to another base where the C-141 remains _ for now _ in active duty. Hall is trained at flying all the military's other cargo planes.
``Accountants used to use books and ledgers,'' Hall said. ``Now they use computers. That's the difference between the C-17 and the C-141.''