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First Executive Flight

Brig. Gen. Robert Johnson, left, Brig Gen. James R. Wilson, center and Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, Adjutant Gereral of the Michighan National Guard, get a view of Fort Custer as they depart Battle Creek on the first flight of the C-21 from the 110th Fighter Wing Air National Guard Base, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009.  (Photo by Master Sgt. Dale Atkins)

Brig. Gen. Robert Johnson, left, Brig Gen. James R. Wilson, center and Maj. Gen. Thomas Cutler, Adjutant Gereral of the Michighan National Guard, get a view of Fort Custer as they depart Battle Creek on the first flight of the C-21 from the 110th Fighter Wing Air National Guard Base, Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009. (Photo by Master Sgt. Dale Atkins)

October 4, 2009 -- 110th Fighter Wing pilots Col. Keir Knapp and Capt. Ryan Schipper took the C-21 on its first executive flight with Maj. Gen. Tom Cutler, Brig. Gen. Robert Johnston; and Brig. Gen. James Wilson along for the ride. The flight left Battle Creek at 1:50 p.m. on Saturday October 3, and headed north for Traverse City then down to Saginaw at a cruising altitude of 24,000 feet.

"It was a demonstration and an opportunity to show the community we are flying again," said Colonel Knapp. 

Saturday's flight was fairly typical of what to expect when the mission begins. The only difference is that the C-21 will not likely be flying anyone out of Battle Creek. 

"We'll pick them up at the designated location, fly them to where they need to go and then return here," said Colonel Knapp, who also pointed out that not just Generals will be flying as passengers. 

"We could fly anyone who puts in a request at JOSAC," said Captain Schipper. 

JOSAC is the Joint Operational Support Airlift Center, a part of the U.S. Transportation Command at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois. 

"They'll prioritize the requests and then we get the call," said Colonel Knapp. Unlike previous flights with the A-10 the C-21 pilots now have to do a safety briefing to the passengers which include a checklist similar to what you would find in the commercial airline industry. 

"We spent a lot of time planning for this demonstration, and this was the first time we flew with passengers on the C-21," said Colonel Knapp. Passengers flying on the C-21 can expect to have a 50 pound weight limit on their personal luggage, as space is limited. 

"Officially it seats eight people but we would really only take six people because eight would crowd the aircraft." said Colonel Knapp. The C-21 has no space compartments; luggage goes in the back of the aircraft behind the seat. 

The C-21 could begin flying passengers through JOSAC at early as the spring of next year.