Salvaging a Crashed C-5 Galaxy

A Lockheed Martin C-5 Galaxy transport aircraft crashed at Dover Air Force Base on April 3, 2006 and required extensive salvage work to clear the wreck. You can read the story here, but the BLUF is that there was a problem with the number 2 engine on the C-5 Galaxy and the crew accidentally shut down the number 3 engine, leaving the transport flying on two engines. The U.S. Air Force investigation showed the crew then applied excess flaps on approach to the runway and caused the C-5 to lose lift, stall, and crash. The end result was a complete air frame loss but luckily none of the 17 crew and passengers on board was killed. In the aftermath of the crash, the U.S. Air Force was left with the hulk of one the largest aircraft in the world that had to be demolished and recovered.

Rescue Personnel walk away from a crashed C-5B Galaxy at Dover Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force Photo

The C-5 Galaxy is a big plane. It’s not the largest in the world but the C-5 is the largest aircraft currently operated by the United States of America and has provided excellent service since the Vietnam War. The C-5 Galaxy that crashed at Dover Air Force Base was a “B” model. The C-5B was a heavily upgraded version of the original C-5 and 50 were produced in the late 1980’s. The modifications gave the C-5 stronger and more efficient engines that allowed the C-5B to carry more cargo and go further distances. The C-5B is still the mainstay of the C-5 fleet but there is an ambitious upgrade program to refit the entire C-5 fleet to the “M” standard which will see the C-5 become an ultramodern aircraft that can carry cargo directly from the United States to the Middle East without stopping.

Soon after the C-5B crashed at Dover Air Force Base, rescue personnel were on scene and put out a fire but there was no question that the entire C-5 was a loss. The nose and tail had both separated from the body and there was extensive structural damage. The U.S. Air Force began a process of reclamation and demilitarization of the aircraft. Any parts that could be used to service other C-5 Galaxy’s was stripped from the frame and cataloged. Parts that were unserviceable and what was left of the body were broken down with heavy equipment and transported to DRMO facilities for processing and recycling. In the end, the entire air frame was removed.

U.S. Air Force personnel begin the process of evaluating the C-5 Galaxy for reclamation and demolition. The C-5B Galaxy was carrying 17 passengers and 110,000 pounds of cargo bound for Germany before it crashed. The combined weight and impact caused fatal structural damage to the aircraft that could not be repaired. U.S. Air Force Photo

One of the more interesting aspects of recovering the Dover C-5B Galaxy was its command deck. The broken off C-5 nose remained intact after the crash and the command deck was in pristine shape. U.S. Air Force Personnel stripped the command deck from the nose section and loaded it into another C-5 Galaxy. The command deck was transported to Macon-Robbins Air Force Base in Georgia where it was converted into a highly realistic and sophisticated simulation and training module for C-5 Galaxy pilots. This simulator is still in use today and will be for the foreseeable future as the C-5 Galaxy is now projected to remain in service through 2040.

The salvaged command deck of the crashed Dover C-5 Galaxy is loaded into another C-5 Galaxy for transport to Georgia. U.S. Air Force Photo


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