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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, June 16, 2006

Change of command June 29 at Hickam

By William Cole
Advertiser Military Writer

Col. William Changose flew a C-17 that had a midair brush with a refueling tanker last year.


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Col. William J. "Goose" Changose is retiring after 15 months as commander of Hickam Air Force Base and a total of 23 years of service, but with a "minor" midair collision of a C-17 Globemaster III and refueling tanker on his record.

Changose, 45, was piloting a C-17 cargo carrier 200 miles off O'ahu during a night refueling practice in December when it had its brief brush with a Hawai'i Air National Guard KC-135R.

The tanker's refueling boom and elevator tabs were damaged, and the C-17 sustained less than $5,000 unspecified damage, officials said.

At a change of command scheduled for June 29, Col. John J. Torres, the vice commander of the 89th Airlift Wing at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, will take over for Changose as commander of the 15th Airlift Wing.

Changose plans to take a management job with communications company Alltel in Little Rock, Ark. He said a key factor in his decision to retire was knowing that his two daughters, ages 13 and 11, could go to high school and stay at the same school without the need for continued frequent moves in the military.

On Dec. 22, Changose was at the controls of a four-engine C-17 being flown in from Oklahoma for training. The co-pilot was never identified.

Changose, who was then seeking requalification as an instructor pilot, had planned to pilot into Hickam the first of eight C-17s being based in Hawai'i.

Air Force officials characterized the contact as "minor" between the 174-foot C-17 and 136-foot refueling tanker, but have never released details on what happened.

Both aircraft landed safely, although the tanker was reported to have gone into a momentary dive, causing zero-gravity. The Air Force said damage to the tanker was less than $100,000.

A Safety Investigation Board, whose results are not publicly released, looked into the accident. A separate Accident Investigation Board was never mounted.

Maj. Chuck Anthony, a Hickam spokesman, said it is a "comparatively rare event" for such contact to occur between a Hawai'i tanker and a cargo aircraft being refueled.

Changose grounded himself from flying while the safety investigation was under way. After the investigation, Pacific Air Forces deputy commander Maj. Gen. Chip Utterback gave him the OK in February to fly C-17s again, he said.

"Once it was done and we figured out what the answers were, I've been out flying," Changose said. No disciplinary action was taken against anyone involved in the Dec. 22 incident, the Air Force said. Throughout his career, Changose has logged more than 4,300 hours piloting cargo aircraft.

The seventh of eight C-17s being based in Hawai'i arrived Wednesday from Long Beach, Calif. The aircraft is named "Spirit of Go For Broke" in honor of the famed 100th Infantry Battalion and 442nd Regimental Combat Team.

About 56 veterans from the units were at Hickam for the arrival, including Medal of Honor recipients Shizuya Hayashi and Barney Hajiro.

Reach William Cole at wcole@honoluluadvertiser.com.