Squat and bulky....there's no getting around it—this plane looks like a box kite with wings. The men who've maintained it sometimes call her Old Betsy.
Old Betsy sits on the ramp this morning at The National Guard Aviation Classification Repair Activity Depot at the Springfield aiport.
Old Betsy is a C-23 Sherpa. This morning the Missouri Army National Guard held a formal retirement ceremony for Betsy. She's been based at our airport since since it was flown here from the factory in Belfast, Ireland in 1989.
Old Betsy is a light cargo/passenger plane. Prop driven, she has a top speed of 218 mph. May not sound like much of a military plane, but she was deployed to the Persian Gulf War in 1991, and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003. While in Iraq the Betsy earned another sort of nickname: "The aircraft that can."
C-23 Sherpas spent their days in Iraq carrying critical supplies—sometimes flying low and fast to avoid detection: 200 mph, 100 feet above the ground. According to military.com Congress bought 12 C-23s in the 1980s. "The Army tried using them, then handed them to the National Guard. Congress bought a total of 44 for the Guard after they proved effective in moving people and cargo in the United States." This morning the plane was flown to San Antonio before being transferred or retired. The Guard expects to retire all C-23 Sherpa by 2014.