TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE (CBS13) — The Air Force is rolling out an old plane with new technology as part of a plan it says will save you money.

The $90 million upgrade to the jet’s engines makes the plane one of the most fuel-efficient airplanes of its size in the world. And it’s stationed at Travis Air Force Base.

In a grey sky, the C-5 Super Galaxy made its first flight over Travis Air Force Base on Thursday.

The cargo plan that spans nearly the length of a football field is touching down for the first time since it was given a $90 million upgrade.

“Words that come to mind are phenomenal and incredible,” said Lt. Gen Brooks Bash.

He was at the controls for the first flight to Fairfield. The plane that can house six Greyhound buses in its belly is now more powerful and able to climb to higher elevations much quicker. But the real gains come in fuel savings.

“Capabilities of this plane to fly direct from here to New Zealand, or from here all the way to Afghanistan with well over 200,000 pounds of cargo,” Bash said.

The new engines and over 100 miles of wiring didn’t come cheap. The Air Force claims it will help pilots, but we asked how does it help taxpayers?

“Over time the modification on this airplane will definitely pay for itself,” said Lt. Col. Jacqueline Breeden.

But she couldn’t say how quickly those savings would come. With cargo loads and flight times different for each mission, she says it’s difficult to calculate.

“It’s a matter of balancing fuel load with cargo load, how heavy we are, how fast we climb, how quickly we get to that altitude is where that fuel savings is built in,” Breeden said.

With the upgrades, the Air Force hopes this plane that was originally build in 1987 will have another 30 to 40 years in teh air.

Travis Air Force Base is set to house 18 of the modified cargo planes.


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