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Last C-5A Galaxy departs San Antonio

The last 433rd Airlift Wing C-5A Galaxy aircraft, tail number 70-0448, departs from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas Sept. 28, 2016. The Alamo Wing will receive eight C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to support the U.S. Air Force’s rapid global mobility mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

The last 433rd Airlift Wing C-5A Galaxy aircraft, tail number 70-0448, departs from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas Sept. 28, 2016. The Alamo Wing will receive eight C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to support the U.S. Air Force’s rapid global mobility mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

The 433rd Airlift Wing said goodbye to the final C-5A Galaxy aircraft, tail number 70-0448, Sept. 28, 2016, from  Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The Alamo Wing will receive eight C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to support the U.S. Air Force's rapid global mobility mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)  (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

The 433rd Airlift Wing said goodbye to the final C-5A Galaxy aircraft, tail number 70-0448, Sept. 28, 2016, from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas. The Alamo Wing will receive eight C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to support the U.S. Air Force's rapid global mobility mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske) (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

The final 433rd Airlift Wing C-5A Galaxy aircraft, tail number 70-0448, prepares to depart from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas on Sept. 28, 2016. The Alamo Wing will receive eight C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to support the U.S. Air Force's rapid global mobility mission.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske) (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

The final 433rd Airlift Wing C-5A Galaxy aircraft, tail number 70-0448, prepares to depart from Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas on Sept. 28, 2016. The Alamo Wing will receive eight C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft to support the U.S. Air Force's rapid global mobility mission. (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske) (U.S. Air Force photo by Benjamin Faske)

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The final C-5A Galaxy aircraft (tail number 70-0448) departed here Sept. 28, to make room for the newer and improved C-5M Super Galaxy aircraft.

The departure is another step towards the 433rd Airlift Wing’s transition to the newer Lockheed Martin model. The first of the eight Lockheed Martin’s C-5M aircraft, arrived June 2016 and is the second C-5 to honor “The City of San Antonio.” The newer model has upgraded engines, an advanced glass cockpit, and 20 percent more fuel efficiency.

The flight also marked the end of another era- the flying career of Lt. Col. Dane Hortsmann, a 356th Airlift Squadron pilot.

"I think it's fitting that I am finishing my career with the 433rd AW just as we retire the last C-5A Galaxy," said Hortsmann.

"It was an honor and privilege to finish my flying career with one of my best friends, Lt. Col. Schimelpfening, while simultaneously flying the last C-5A."

The C-5A has been a part of San Antonio’s heritage for over 30 years, since its arrival to the 433rd Tactical Airlift Wing at Kelly Air Force Base, back in December 1984 (tail number, 69-0016) was also named the “City of San Antonio.”

On its maiden flight here, with Gen. Thomas M. Ryan, Jr., commander in chief of Military Airlift Command at the helm, the aircraft was delivered to Kelly Field to Maj. Gen. Sloan R. Gill, chief of the Air Force Reserve; Brig. Gen. John G. Sullivan, 433rd TAW commander and Henry Cisneros, San Antonio mayor, were all there to greet it.

Lt. Col. Steve Schimelpfening, 433rd Operations Support Squadron, had a duel connection to the C-5A's final flight from San Antonio.

"I started flying the C-5A models as an enlisted load master in 1991, so I started my career with them A model, so its ironic that I started my career with the C-5A and now I am one of the last pilots to fly it from the wing," said Schimelpfening."Being able to fly the last A model out of here, in conjunction with Lt. Col. Hortsmann's finny flight, meant so much to me."

The C-5 is still the United States’ largest military transport aircraft built and has been known as the backbone of the United States Air Force, with its strategic cargo lifting capabilities, hauling twice as much cargo as any other U.S. airlifter.

A true strategic military aircraft, the C-5A, sometimes affectionately called, the “Aluminum Overcast” or the “Big Mac,” has supported U.S. military operations in every major conflict since the Vietnam, because it can transport about 98 percent of the Army’s equipment when they deploy.

While stationed here, the C-5A has answered the call in support of several ongoing overseas contingency operations, such as Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Enduring and Iraqi Freedom. It has flown many humanitarian relief missions as well, aiding victims of natural disasters, to include Central American assistance in the wake of Hurricane Mitch, Operation Coronet Oak in Haiti and the flooding in Pakistan and Katrina in Louisiana.

As the last C-5A departs from San Antonio, it leaves a legacy of hard work and a determined perseverance; it served the Air Force Reserve and the Alamo Wing well. It now passes the baton to the next generation.

"As the mission continues, the wing has already begun to train the next generation of aircrew for the M Model at the FTU (Formal Training Unit)," said Hortsmann.