SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – Hurricane Florence has forced the US Air Force to move military aircraft from the East Coast at Scott Air Force Base to protect the planes. They may move as many as 11 C-17s from the air base in Charleston, South Carolina to Illinois.
Each aircraft carries a $200 million price tag, so the military wants to make sure the powerful storm doesn't damage the planes.
“(Winds could) certainly damage flight control systems, the wing the tail, but it’s really the debris flying around that you worry about,” Major Geoff Goldsmith said.
The 11 C-17s will stay at Scott until Hurricane Florence passes.
Major Goldsmith piloted one of the C-17s from Charleston to Scott. He said it’s not a big challenge to continue worldwide missions from here.
He said it’s tough for the 100 military support people they brought along. Many of them left families behind as Hurricane Florence approaches but Goldsmith said they are prepared.
“It’s a team. It’s a big family. Yes, while they did they leave loved ones behind, everyone had an evacuation plan,” Goldsmith said. “Their families know what they’re going to do. There’s a lot of team members back in Charleston ready to help those folks out.”
Scott airfield manager Rick Hupp said the base's location makes it a perfect place to offer help.
“We are centrally located so we can support our team partners on the east and west coasts, so they have refuge here in the center of the US,” he said.
Up to 20 C-17s were coming to our area from Charleston. Scott officials said those additional planes could still wind up in our region. If that happens, some of the additional aircraft could use Mid-America Airport in nearby Mascoutah if the area at SAFB fills up.
This isn’t the first time Scott Air Force Base has played host to military aircraft evacuating from hurricane zones. About a year ago, 12 C-17s came to Scott last September to escape hurricanes Harvey and Maria.
Last year, planes were flown to Scott from Charleston to get out of the way of Hurricane Matthew.
It’s also possible crews could soon be flying missions to bring supplies to hurricane victims. Major Goldsmith has been involved in humanitarian missions before, including delivering food after the Haiti earthquake.
“The humanitarian missions that I’ve done are some of the favorite mission I’ve ever done its always a good feeling to help people out,” he said.