Baby C-17 Sends Imaginations Soaring

The C-17 Globemaster III is a military cargo jet that can carry what their commercial counterparts can’t, to places those other planes can’t go. The people who keep these planes flying are proud of their capable airlifter, but it’s hard to show them off. Solution: build a scaled-down version more suitable for driving off base for a parade down Main Street and other community events.

While the real thing was built under an expensive and contentious military procurement process, the miniature was built with volunteer labor using castoff materials. The volunteer force included maintenance crew whose job is to know the C-17 inside and out. Combined with fabrication skills that comes with the job, the impressive baby plane faithfully copied many curvatures and details from full-sized originals. (Albeit with some alteration for its cartoony proportions.) Underneath are mechanicals from a retired John Deere Gator utility vehicle. They usually resemble a large golf cart except with a cargo bed and more rugged suspension. Basically they are to golf carts as a C-17 is to a 767. Amusingly, the little plane has its own rear loading ramp, superficially preserving the cargo-carrying capacity of the original Gator chassis.

Interior features continue, though the official picture gallery doesn’t show them. There is a flight deck with control panels and various sights and sounds to keep visitors entertained. Enough details were poured into the exhibit that some people had to ask if the little plane can fly, and the answer is a very definite no. The wings, and the engine pods mounted to them, are only for show carrying The Spirit of Hope, Liberty & Freedom. It is quite a long official name for such a short stubby thing.

We always love to admire impressively put-together miniatures, and not all projects require skill of aircraft mechanics. Like this very approachable miniature forklift project. But there are plenty of other projects whose skills put us in awe, like this remote-control car powered by a miniature V-10 engine.

[via The Museum of Flight]

17 thoughts on “Baby C-17 Sends Imaginations Soaring

  1. This reminds me of the bally bomber.

    Quite sad. The guy who build it spend several years of his life to build a scale model, but he did it by linearly scaling from some other model (I think a small RC variant instead of the real thing) But that does not work well. Aerodynamics do not scale linearly, and you have to make some adjustments depending on the size of what you build.

    The bally bomber was sold almost immediately after completion, and from the little info I read it was flying like a drunken maple leaf and needs constant course adjustments just to keep it in a straight line.

  2. Your Mini C-17 is absolutely fantastic!! BRAVO to everyone at Joint Base Charleston for putting this together! It is great that you kept so much of it true to the real thing!

    I would LOVE it if there were plans available so that other ones could be built, too! How would a community go about building another one?

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