CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- The Mississippi Air National Guard's C-17 crews, who used to fly three hours every month from Jackson, Miss., to South Carolina for assault landing and takeoff practice, began training on home turf here on the Air National Guard's first short assault runway--one of two in the world designed specifically for the cargo aircraft.
The 90-foot wide runway is 3,500 feet long, with 300-foot overruns on either end. An automated scoring system will record training sessions in real time to provide feedback to C-17 pilots back on base, said Lt. Gen. Craig McKinley, director of the Air National Guard.
Though the 172nd Airlift Wing is flying biweekly medical evacuation and supply missions out of Balad Air Base, Iraq, officials say the importance of having such a training facility at Camp Shelby extends beyond military needs.
"It also gives us depth in homeland security," the commanding officer of First Army, Lt. Gen. Russell Honore, said at...