N.D. Air Guard jet arrives at Air Force museum

DAYTON, Ohio One of the U.S. Air Force’s first C-21A aircraft landed at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force on Wednesday, according to museum officials.

Col. Kent Olson, commander of the 119th Wing of the North Dakota Air National Guard in Fargo, piloted the aircraft during its final flight. Col. Brad Derrig, vice commander of the 119th Wing, was the co-pilot, and Lt. Col. Jerrad Krapp, commander of the 177th Airlift Squadron, also was on board. It was a bittersweet moment for the crew, as it was the last manned flight for the North Dakota Air National Guard.

“It’s only appropriate that the last C-21 flight from our base will be a first for the National Museum of the Air Force as it expands its collection to include this airframe,” Olson said. “Since beginning our C-21 mission in 2007, our maintainers have kept the aircraft in the best condition imaginable as our pilots logged more Joint Operational Support Airlift Center missions and flying hours with it than other units around the country.”

The Learjet (now Bombardier Aerospace) C-21A twin turbofan-engine aircraft was the military version of the Learjet 35A business jet. It provided airlift for eight passengers and more than 3,000 pounds of cargo, and it could transport one litter patient or five ambulatory patients during aeromedical evacuations. The small size of the aircraft allowed quick and cost effective travel.

“The addition of the C-21 gives us the opportunity to better interpret the diversity of the Air Force’s airlift mission,” said retired Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, museum director. “The popular airlift image is heavy-lift large cargo aircraft, like the C-5 or C-17, but the C-21 represents the other end of the mission spectrum. We’re excited to see this C-21 starting a new career at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force.”

The C-21A (S/N 84-0064) flown from North Dakota was one of the first three of more than 80 aircraft delivered to the Air Force. It deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom. During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, C-21s delivered the Air Tasking Orders to units lacking the ability to receive these daily orders electronically. The aircraft was last assigned operationally to the N.D. Air National Guard.

The aircraft will be initially displayed outdoors in the museum’s Air Park this fall.