The C-5 Galaxy entered service in June 1970 when Lockheed-Georgia Co. delivered the aircraft to the United States Air Force. The USAF has retained exclusive purchasing rights to the Galaxy. The primary purpose of the Lockheed C-5 is to support heavy airlift missions on behalf of the U.S. military. The airplane is capable of transporting oversized cargo long distances and can land within a mere 4,900′. With a maximum load, the C-5 requires only an 8,300′ runway for takeoff. Its nose and aft cargo doors easily accommodate the loading and unloading of cargo and they’re wide enough to permit two vehicles to drive side-by-side onto the Galaxy. The landing gear will “kneel” or lower the airplane for ease of loading or unloading. The upper deck is spacious enough to seat 73 passengers.
Though it looks very much like the C-141 Starlifter, the C-5 Galaxy is bigger and can transport a heavier payload than the C-141. In recent years, the C-5 Galaxy planes continue to be upgraded with modern avionics. The Galaxy fleet’s autopilot system as well as the safety and navigation equipment is presently being upgraded. In addition, new landing gear, engines, auxiliary power units, pylons, and other parts will be installed on the Galaxy aircraft. Because the planes are expected to remain in service for many years to come, these upgrades are not only necessary but are also considered to be cost-effective as compared to purchasing new planes. The U.S. Air Force estimates the savings for upgrading rather than replacing the planes to be around $20 billion.
The C-5C Galaxy is designed to accommodate even larger cargo than the standard C-5. NASA has made use of the larger Galaxy to transport satellites and other equipment. Two of these modified Galaxy planes fly for NASA though U.S. Air Force crews fly both of them.
Speed: 518 mph
Range: 6,320 nm
Maximum weight: 769,000 lbs
Empty weight: 380,000 lb
Engine(s): Four General Electric TF-39 engines
Takeoff roll: 8,400′
Landing roll: 3,600′
Rate of climb: 1,800′ per minute
Crew: Seven, including a pilot, co-pilot, two flight engineers, and three loadmasters