Massive cargo plane swings through area

An Air Force C-17 was in the area Thursday practicing approaches, but it never touched down.

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WALLA WALLA -- No, you weren't seeing things Thursday. That really was a big airplane flying overhead.

A U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo plane literally made a flying visit here about noon, using the runways at Walla Walla Regional Airport to practice landing approaches.

The massive aircraft never landed, said Jennifer Skoglund, airport manager. A spokesman at McChord Air Force Base in Tacoma said today chances were the plane was from there. "We normally use Moses Lake, but the runway there is closed 'til mid-September for repairs," he said.

According to information listed on the U.S. Air Force Web site, the C-17 Globemaster III is 174 feet long and has wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches. It can carry up to 170,900 pounds, which is about 85 tons. Another way of looking at it is the airplane can pack a 70-ton Abrams M-1 tank in its cargo hold with room to spare.

Or, as Skoglund said, "It's a great, big old military airplane."

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