Last 440th Plane Set to Depart Fort Bragg This Week

A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules from the 2nd Airlift Squadron, 440th Airlift Wing, parks at a drop zone at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Dec. 6, 2008.  (DeNoris A. Mickle/U.S. Air Force photo)
A U.S. Air Force C-130 Hercules from the 2nd Airlift Squadron, 440th Airlift Wing, parks at a drop zone at Fort Bragg, N.C., on Dec. 6, 2008. (DeNoris A. Mickle/U.S. Air Force photo)

The last 440th Airlift Wing C-130H will leave Fort Bragg on Wednesday morning, officials said Monday.

The scheduled 9 a.m. flight, from Pope Field to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, will mark the end of an era for aviation on the nation's largest military installation.

The 440th Airlift Wing, part of the Air Force Reserve, had flown the last planes permanently based on Fort Bragg.

But an Air Force decision to shutter that unit grounded the planes earlier this year, leaving Fort Bragg paratrooper units to depend on outside air crews for airborne training.

The final flight also will mark the end of efforts to ready the 440th's planes to be shipped to other installations. Those efforts began in May, days after the Air Force notified Congress that it would move forward on its two-year-old plans to shutter the unit.

The 440th's last plane is destined for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, officials said. That unit's facilities near Tucson, are often called "The Boneyard," as it is where the Air Force stores its unused aircraft.

Other 440th planes have been taken to Little Rock, Arkansas, where they were reassigned to the 189th Airlift Wing, an Air National Guard unit based there.

For the last several weeks, crews had prepared the planes for their final flights with the unit. That process included an inventory of the planes and their equipment, inspections and maintenance.

Last month, crews involved in that work said it was an emotional effort.

The unit, which has been based at Fort Bragg or the former Pope Air Force Base since 2007, was originally slated for inactivation in 2014.

But the loss of the only conventional airlift assets permanently based at the home of the bulk of the Army's airborne and quick reaction forces led to a political fight that ended earlier this year.

Today, only a few hundred of the 440th's airmen and civilians -- who once numbered upwards of 1,200 -- remain with the unit.

An official inactivation will take place in late September, officials said.

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