CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – You’ll be seeing plenty of planes around Westover Air Reserve Base this weekend.
But every other day, the mission of Westover is important, and it’s centered around the majestic C5 cargo jet.
Not only does Westover host 16 of them, it’s also a vital inspection center for the nation’s entire fleet of C5’s.
The C-5 is the U.S. military’s largest plane. It’s a cargo plane, and you can see just how much it can carry by looking at how small a HumVee looks inside of it.
Westover is the largest air reserve base in the country by land mass, with 2,511 acres. Its critical location on the eastern seaboard makes it about one hour closer to NATO countries in Europe than the next nearest logistics base.
It’s been involved in every humanitarian and military mission since 1974, when it changed from an active to reserve base. Col. Al Lupenski, Wing Commander at Westover, told 22News, “Desert Storm was epic here. I mean all kinds of folks came through Westover and it was a great place to come because of the hospitality that the air crews got when they came here from the local community. People still talk about it.”
Lupenski told 22News every day, 800 to 1000 people work on the base. Most are reservists. “They’re juggling their family, they’re juggling their civilian job, and they’re committed to being good citizen Airmen here at Westover.”
But he said they train the same as active duty members of the Air Force. “Any given day, I can call up one of these guys and say I need you to fly a mission tomorrow. And they’ll come in and fly a mission.”
Each year, about 5,000 people work on the base, greatly impacting the economy of Western Massachusetts.