Growing up in the Seattle area, Bianchi always wanted to serve his community. Now, he flies missions all over the world from Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

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U.S. AIR FORCE PILOT
First Lieutenant Tony Bianchi

What do you do? I am a U.S. Air Force C-17 pilot. I fly global airlift missions and manage mobility aircrews at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

How did you get started in that field? I began my career as a civilian pilot with Kenmore Air before transitioning to the Air Force. Having grown up in the Seattle area, I always wanted to serve in my local community and be an Air Force pilot. To become a pilot, commissioned Air Force officers attend two years of schooling to include a 13-month flight-training program, two months of survival school and three months of aircraft specific follow-on training.

What’s a typical day like? Typical airlift missions last six–eight days and include overnight stops at civilian and military airports all over the world. A standard aircrew consists of three pilots, two loadmasters and a maintenance technician. Each morning, the aircrews review flight plan information, oversee cargo loading operations and receive an update on world events. Aircrews then work together to accomplish a wide variety of missions including aero-medical evacuation, humanitarian relief and transportation of the personnel and equipment needed to support presidential movement.

What’s the best part of the job? Our mission, providing global airlift for America. Due to the aircraft’s range and flexibility, C-17 aircrews are busy serving on all seven continents, including the support of research operations in Antarctica. In addition, we maintain a constant state of readiness to provide humanitarian aid in the event of a natural disaster. The best part of my job, besides seeing the world, is knowing that the missions we fly in the C-17 have a direct impact on the world around us.

What surprises people about what you do? We’re more than just cargo pilots. When people see the C-17 they think, cargo plane. While cargo operations are a large part of what we do, the C-17 Globemaster III is capable of so much more. Roughly the size of a Boeing 767, the Globemaster III is engineered to land on very short runways. It also has the ability to land on unpaved runways such as dirt and snow. These unique capabilities combined with the ability to air drop its cargo makes the C-17 the workhorse of today’s humanitarian and military airlift requirements.

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