Air Force and Boeing aviation officials said it was just a coincidence the Charleston Air Force Base's 58th C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane arrived the very same day Boeing picked North Charleston as its new commercial jet expansion site.
Representatives of both groups said the arrival date had been planned for weeks and that there was no hidden meaning in the arrival time Wednesday.
The $200 million plane flew in from Boeing's Long Beach, Calif., military plant, touching down fewer than two hours before the North Charleston site expansion was announced.
The new plane further solidifies Charleston's anchor role for the C-17. On average, three to four planes leave the base every day bound for the Iraq and Afghanistan war zones, carrying all sorts of cargo. The most popular in recent times has been armored vehicles designed to withstand deadly roadside bombs. The plane also can perform a variety of other missions, including aeromedical evacuations and humanitarian aid delivery.
"It's a fantastic piece of machinery," said Lt. Gen. Charles Stenner, commander of the Air Force Reserve Command, who piloted the new plane from the West Coast.
In all, the Charleston base is set to have a total of 60 C-17s, with the final two scheduled to arrive in November.
The new planes have advances beyond the first generation, with a larger fuel capacity and the most modern computer flying technology.
The California line produces about 15 planes a year. How many more C-17s are built is up to Congress. "We hope a whole lot more," said John Cook, director of C-17 field services for Boeing.
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