Hall of Fame Inductee

2015 – The C-17A Pathfinder Loadmasters

A/TA Walk of Fame at Scott AFB

A/TA Walk of Fame at Scott AFB

The Airlift/Tanker Association (A/TA) Hall of Fame (HOF) was established in October 1988 to honor those individuals who have demonstrated superior or sustained performance to the advancement of Air Mobility. Upon selection and induction into the A/TA Hall of Fame, a bronze bust of the inductee is placed in the Mobility Memorial Park at Scott Air Force Base, IL. In addition, an induction and award ceremony will occur during the next annual A/TA Convention.

A/TA is pleased to announce that the 2015 Hall of Fame Award recognizes the six C-17A “Pathfinder Loadmasters.” Collectively, the C-17A Pathfinder Loadmasters were instrumental in providing the unparalleled leadership and expertise necessary to guide McDonnell Douglas and Military Airlift Command to produce the C-17 Globemaster III. The C-17 is the first cargo transport aircraft specifically designed for a one loadmaster operation, thus setting the standard for all future mobility aircraft development. The six C-17A Pathfinder Loadmasters are:

CMSgt William (Bill) M. Cannon, USAF (Ret) – Deceased

CMSgt Marion (Dave) D. Fincher, USAF (Ret)

CMSgt Michael (Mike) M. Welch, USAF (Ret)

CMSgt James (Jim) Lis, USAF (Ret)

CMSgt Mark A. Smith, USAF (Ret)

MSgt Theodore (Ted) R. Venturini, USAF (Ret)

“In the 25 years since first flight, their dedication is in the history books.  Strategic or Tactical, civil or military support, our country or the world at large, the value of the C-17  has been proven time, and time again.  These six NCOs made that happen!” Gen Duane Cassidy, USAF (Ret), Former A/TA Chairman and Hall of Fame Inductee

Beginning in 1981, the McDonnell Douglas C-17A Globemaster III cargo compartment evolved from a concept into a multifaceted, fully integrated system design that exceeded Military Airlift Command operational requirements at that time. The Pathfinder Loadmaster’s recommendations prior to and during the C-17A Preliminary Design Review in 1985 and Critical Design review in 1988 were critical in the evolution of new airlift aircraft requirements. These included numerous hands-on cargo compartment mockup evaluations, workload demonstrations, aerial delivery and aeromedical evacuation demonstrations, plus human factors assessments that directly influenced the final C-17A cargo compartment design.

These six C-17A Pathfinder Loadmasters were the cornerstone for the successful design, development, production, test, and evaluation of the cargo compartment of one of the most technically advanced and successful air mobility aircraft ever produced.

“All you have to do is look at everything the C-17 has done over the last two decades to realize our nation would not have been successful without the C-17. The way the airplane’s cargo bay was designed to handle every mission from humanitarian, to airdrop, to aeromedical, to the basic cargo mission was absolutely essential and we owe a debt of gratitude to those loadmasters who made it fit every mission.”A/TA Chairman Art Lichte, Gen, USAF (Ret)

Their combined Aircrew Loadmaster experience totals over 150 years, including greater than 55,000 flying hours on 21 different aircraft. Their unique backgrounds were critical to ensuring that the one-loadmaster aircrew concept became a reality on the C-17A. This “Band of Loadmasters” group effort resulted in revolutionary design improvements and advancement to America’s airlift capability and set a benchmark for air mobility aircraft for years to come.

The overall success of the C-17A Globemaster III can be attributed to many individuals with varied skillsets over the past 35 years, – however, the success, operational utility, advancement, and growth of the “business end” of the C-17A will always be attributed to Bill, Dave, Mike, Jim, Mark and Ted.

“Words can never thank these six loadmasters for their contributions and dedication to ensuring the C-17 cargo bay is user friendly for aircrew and aerial port personnel.” A/TA President Mike Reynolds, CMSgt, USAF (Ret)