Shorter Hops Take Toll on Airmen, Too: Increased tactical missions not only have caused unplanned wear and tear on the C-17 airlifter, but also pose a greater burden on the aircraft’s aircrews. Crewmembers say that making more short hops in the Southwest Asia environment is more physically challenging than longer, strategic missions. The longer flights enable pilots to trade off, with one getting some sleep. If the flights are longer than five hours, loadmasters often bunk down on the floor. A typical day is 24 hours of flying, but some extend to 26. “Either way you look at it, our C-17 crews put in long hours that place physical and mental demands on the human body,” Lt. Col. Chris Carlsen, commander of Det. 2, 817th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron, told Air Force journalist Maj. Ann Peru Knabe.
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