Reservist marks ending career with last flight at Arnold

Jim Crawford, Aerospace Testing Alliance machinist, flew his last C-130 flight mission with the Air National Guard over Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Feb. 23. Senior Master Sgt. Crawford retired after 30 years of combined service time in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. (Photo by David Housch)

Jim Crawford, Aerospace Testing Alliance machinist, flew his last C-130 flight mission with the Air National Guard over Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Feb. 23. Senior Master Sgt. Crawford retired after 30 years of combined service time in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. (Photo by David Housch)

Senior Master Sgt. Jim Crawford stands by a sign at the Ste. Mare, France D-Day Commemorative Airdrops 50th anniversary. (Photo provided Jim Crawford)

Senior Master Sgt. Jim Crawford stands by a sign at the Ste. Mare, France D-Day Commemorative Airdrops 50th anniversary. (Photo provided Jim Crawford)

Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn. -- Feb. 23 marked the end of era for one man at AEDC. Jim Crawford, an Aerospace Testing Alliance machinist, flew his last C-130 mission flight over Arnold Air Force Base, which signified his retirement. The Lynchburg, Tenn., native had served more than 30 years combined in the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserves.
Retired Senior Master Sgt. Crawford flew hundreds of these same type missions as a flight engineer with the 105th Airlift Squadron out of Nashville. He has more than 6,000 hours of flying time. As a flight engineer, Sergeant Crawford was the operating systems expert configuring performance data.
The 118th Wing of the 105th Airlift Squadron performs a cargo drop almost once at week at Arnold's airfield. The purpose of the C-130 mission is to haul any supplies needed to sustain the people at the end of the supply line.
"This is one reason why these missions have been in such high demand in Iraq," he said. "Any time the Army tries to move on the ground something prevents the supplies from getting to the troops, but the C-130 allows airdrops in a desolate place where there is no airfield or have an area where it is secured for only a short period of time."
He has been at Arnold Engineering Development Center for nearly four years. Prior to coming to AEDC, he was an airframe powerplant mechanic for Northwest Airlines in Atlanta. There, he overhauled DC-9 aircraft and Pratt & Whitney jet engines.
To sum up his reservist career, Mr. Crawford said, "I came in on the trailing edge of technology when it comes to aircraft and flying," he said. "Here at Arnold I am now on the leading edge."