Air Force Boeing C-17 Flew Out Of Kabul With 640 Refugees On BoardAugust 19, 2021
A Boeing C-17 Globemaster III attached to the 436th Air Wing operated a flight out of Kabul’s Hamid Karzai International Airport with 640 people on board. The unusual event took place on sunday August 15th 2021, as thousands of panicked refugees attempted to flee advancing Taliban forces.
According to a report from the Defense One website, the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III assigned to that flight belonged to the 436th Air Wing based at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware. That day, the aircraft and its crew had been assigned to operate evacuation flights under the call sign Reach 871.
With the chaos that ensued the Afghan government collapse and the swift take over by the Talibans, thousands of afghanis desperate to go into exile had invaded the country’s main airport.
The online Defense One web site had revealed that the crew operating Reach 871 flights had elected not to disembark the crowd that had made its way through the giant aircraft’s half open rear cargo ramp. The plane then took off for Doha, Qatar where a rough headcount established that some 640 had been transported in that flight.
For the Pentagon, which had not expected such a rapid and catastrophic collapse of the Afghani government, the main mission is now focusing on securing the airport in order to evacuate 5,000 people daily with about one airplane scheduled to depart every hour. This ramp-up of flight operations is to be carried out simultanously with reinforcements arriving in Kabul to help better secure the airport. The Defense Department had initially intended to airlift about 22,000 people by August 31st.
According to Defense One, Reach 871 was in no way holder of the record of the most people flown on board a C-17. That record which may have been broken these past few days by other C-17s aircraft involved in evacuation missions ou of Kabul, is still officially held by a C-17 aircraft that transported 670 people out of arm’s way during a natural disasters rescue operation in the Philippines in 2013.
The Boeing C-17 Globemaster III, of which 279 aircraft have been built until production ended in 2015 remains the workhorse of military strategic airlift capabilities and is being operated by India (10 aircraft), the United Kingdom (8), Australia (8), Canada (5), Kuwait (2), Qatar (8), the United Arab Emirates (8), and the Multinational Strategic Airlift Capability (3).