BROWNSVILLE, Texas (ValleyCentral) — Even a $202.3 million U.S. Air Force cargo plane doesn’t get waved through customs as it arrives in the United States.
A C-17 Globemaster III cargo plane landed in Brownsville on Wednesday before continuing its journey Thursday, after spending the night in the Rio Grande Valley and undergoing customs inspections and refueling.
“Even military planes have to clear customs,” said Francisco Partida, deputy director of the Brownsville South Padre Island International Airport in Brownsville.
With a call sign of Reach 1777, the C-17 Globemaster III’s mission and destination have not been revealed to the public. Still, the Brownsville airport told ValleyCentral that the cargo plane and its crew arrived from Panama after traveling to Honduras and then the Rio Grande Valley.
Part of the Air Force’s fleet since 1991, the C-17 Globemaster III has a wingspan of 169 feet, 10 inches. The massive plane turned heads to the sky Wednesday as it flew overhead, making a couple of passes around the Brownsville airport before landing.
“The time that they arrived was great because people were getting out of work or picking up their kids from school,” Partida said. “So a lot of people were able to see it, and it generated a lot of excitement.”
As a port of entry to the United States, the airport has a 22,000-square-foot U.S. Customs and Border Protection facility, Partida said. Every plane that arrives from an international destination must go through a customs inspection — even military cargo planes, he said.
According to the U.S. Air Force, the Air National Guard operates C-17s from Jackson, Mississippi, Stewart ANG Base, New York, Memphis, Tennessee, Martinsburg, West Virginia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.
“We’ve supported several military missions in the past,” Partida said. “And having an aircraft like this is just continuing that tradition for Brownsville.”