Courtesy of The Aviationist, here’s an amazing video clip of a USAF C-5 Galaxy transport – the largest aircraft operated by that force – taking off from the just over 7,000 foot runway at Ilopango Airport in El Salvador.  For an aircraft that large, carrying an unknown cargo but clearly heavily laden, it’s quite an achievement.

The wingspan of the C-5 is about 80 feet wider than the runway, hence the clouds of dust raised during the last part of the takeoff run, when the jet exhaust is angled down towards them.

I’d call that dusty in anyone’s language!



  1. I used to see those things taxiing around at my airbase, and I say to myself, "Self, there's no way that apartment building on wheels should be moving around, much less flying."

    Frequently, I was right, because FREDs would break down and be stuck until some spares came in.

    Then one would get fixed and it'd go to the end of the runway, and I'd never believe it would get into the air, then it would, and I still didn't believe it. F'ing lying eyes…

  2. Oh man, stopped as close to the end of the runway as he could get from the taxiway. Then stood on the brakes until had full military power, then held then some more, then used every last foot of runway for his take off run.

  3. It doesn't look like it will be able to lift off, but wonder of all wonders, it does! Without much runway to spare.

  4. Yep, overweight for the runway, V1/VR/PULL NOW! all at the same time! They're lucky they got it in the air!

    1. I've only ever seen them used on C-130s. But this crew could've definitely have used a couple or three dozen JATO bottles.

  5. Awesome.

    We – as a civilization – have created some truly remarkable things. The Galaxy C-5 is just one of them.

    Sorta sad we are now in the process of returning to the jungle.

  6. Ilopango Airport
    Dimensions: 7349 x 148 feet
    elevation 2014
    C-5 wingspan 223'
    I calculated density altitude for the takeoff, assuming 80 degrees F, standard pressure of 29.92 and a 70 degree dew point. (all pretty normal for that part of the world. Came up with 4048'
    Pretty obvious that that was a max effort T/O.
    Not sure exactly how the C-5 world does things but in the C-130 (4000 hours) on something like that, we would calculate a "Decision speed" and a time to reach it. Say 90 knots and a predicted time to reach it. If we didn't make that speed by that time, we aborted. Only did one of those once for real. The technical term for an engine failure after decision speed and prior to rotation is "A really bad thing."

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