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Yokota's C-12 Huron: Small bird performs big mission

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Michael Washburn
  • 374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A C-12 Huron crew from Yokota Air Base recently completed a mission that tested new capabilities of the aircraft.

Capt. Christina Lee, 374th Operations Group C-12 evaluator pilot; Lt. Col. Mark Allen, 459th Airlift Squadron commander; Capt. John Vergere, 459 AS pilot and Ben Lawrence, 374th Maintenance Operations Squadron maintainer, flew to San Angelo, Texas, to recover a C-12 that had routine maintenance performed. While in Texas, the C-12 was test-fitted with aeromedical evacuation equipment that would improve its abilities.

Currently in the Pacific Region, the C-130H and the KC-135 are the primary aircraft used for aeromedical evacuations. The new equipment enables C-12s to transfer ambulatory patients.

Lee says the equipment installed was just temporary. After seeing if everything would fit, developing a training guide will be the important next step in the approval process. Not only would Yokota be able to greater utilize the equipment it has, it could also save the Air Force money.

"If we had two people in Kadena Air Base, that needed to come to the clinic, it doesn't make sense to use a KC-135 when we can use a C-12," she added. "The savings is the key over the capability."

Lee says using a C-12 versus a C-130 or KC-135, could save the Air Force thousands of dollars for aeromedical evacuation missions that call for its unique capability.

"Before we can use the C-12 as an aeromedical evacuation aircraft, it needs to be certified," Lee said. "After it is certified, the C-12 would be able to fly Pacific Air Force aeromedical evacuation missions."

Lee said the aeromedical equipment was loaded onto the aircraft to ensure proper measurements and operational capability. She said something as simple as the ability to strap down litters had to be tested.

After the aircraft was maintained and the test fit was complete, the real challenge became present: making the return trip back to Yokota.

The C-12 was fitted with four additional ferry tanks of fuel to cover the distance while flying against the jet stream, Lee said.

Even thought the mission was long and challenging, Lee said it was exciting.

"We took the aircraft from Texas to Utah, Washington, Alaska, an Aleutian Island and finally to Yokota," Lee said. "We took a C-12 where it has never been before in the three years that I've been here."