by Senior Airman Andrew McLaughlin
434th ARW Public Affairs
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- A KC-135R Stratotanker from the 434th Air Refueling Wing tops off an A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 127th Fighter Wing Michigan Air National Guard during a refueling mission Aug. 1. The refueling mission gave crew members from both aircraft hands on training in aerial refueling to keep them ready for any mission around the globe. The mission also gave local media the chance to get up close and see a refueling mission take place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jami K. Lancette) Hi-res
Note: Pictured is A-10C 170 from the 107th Fighter Squadron, 127th Wing (Michigan ANG).
8/22/2012 - GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- Armed with cameras, recorders and notebooks, several Indiana media outlets converged on Grissom to learn about the 434th Air Refueling Wing and tell the story of the Hoosier Wing.
Both traditional and social media took part in a special media day here recently, which not only put some of them in the air to cover actual aerial refueling missions, but also gave them a behind-the-scenes look at Grissom's maintenance and support personnel who keep the mission going day in and day out.
"When you think of Air Force Reserve, you just think of weekends, but it's operating 24/7 constantly rotating people out," said Aric Hartvig, a local television producer.
The media who flew went up on two separate KC-135s, one refueling a C-5 Galaxy, the Air Force's largest transport aircraft, and the other with two A-10 Thunderbolt IIs, close air support aircraft.
They captured the 434th ARW in action as they spoke with pilots and crewmembers and observed an aerial refueling from the view of the aircraft's boom pod.
"It was awesome," said Hartvig, who witnessed the A-10 refueling. "Before I got to do this, I didn't realize people could refuel in air."
A special media team stayed on the ground to film the part of Grissom's mission that keeps the aircraft flying. They documented pilots training inside a KC-135 flight simulator, and filmed Airmen from the 434th Operations Support Squadron and the 434th Maintenance Squadron as they talked about their jobs and demonstrated their work.
The media team also got a close-up view of aircraft maintainers working on a KC-135 out on the flight line.
The media also saw the Grissom Fire Department in action as they conducted life-saving training. The firefighters ignited a mock aircraft frame used for fire training as the visitors watched from a safe distance but close enough to still feel the heat. The GFD used two firefighting trucks equipped with water cannons to extinguish the flames.
The visitors had a chance to tour the new $7.4 million air traffic control tower as well.
The 434th ARW is the largest KC-135R Stratotanker unit in the Air Force Reserve Command.
Stay connected with the 434th ARW on Facebook and Twitter.
(Senior Airman Jami K. Lancette, 434th ARW Public Affairs, contributed to this story.)
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind.-- A KC-135R Stratotanker from the 434th Air Refueling Wing fly's side-by-side with an A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 127th Fighter Wing Michigan Air National Guard during a refueling mission Aug. 1. The refueling mission gave crew members from both aircraft hands on training in aerial refueling to keep them ready for any mission around the globe. The mission also gave local media a chance to get up close and see a refueling mission take place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jami K. Lancette) Hi-res
Source (including 8 photos)
Related news media coverage:
Air Force refuels A-10 fighter planes above Battle Creek
Mission offloads 4,000 pounds of fuel
Posted: Thursday, August 9, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 9:48 pm, Thu Aug 9, 2012
GRISSOM AIR RESERVE BASE, Ind. -- A KC-135R Stratotanker from the 434th Air Refueling Wing tops off an A-10 Thunderbolt II from the 127th fighter Wing Michigan Air National Guard during a refueling mission Aug. 1. The refueling mission gave crew members from both aircraft hands on training in aerial refueling to keep them ready for any mission around the globe. The mission also gave local media the chance to get up close and see a refueling mission take place. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Jami K. Lancette) Full size
Josh Fagerburg lay on his stomach with his hand on the trigger, waiting for one of two A-10 fighter planes to fly up behind the aircraft he was in to receive 2,000 pounds of fuel.
When the A-10 was approximately 30 feet away from the KC-135 Stratotanker, Fagerburg lowered the boom into the receiver aircraft and began pumping fuel into it.
"The plane gets so close you can actually see the whites of the pilot's eyes", pointed out senior airman public affairs specialist Jami Lancette.
Fagerburg was one of two boom operators on board the 322,500-pound KC-135 Stratotanker, one of the biggest planes in the world, as part of the Grissom Air Reserve Base training mission to refuel two A-10s above Battle Creek, Mich., last Wednesday.
The main mission of the Stratotankers is to provide mid-air refueling to long-range bomber, fighter, and cargo aircraft.
On this mission, the KC-135 flew at 33,000 feet before dropping to 19,000 feet to refuel the A-10s flown by members of the Michigan National Guard.
"They're one of the few planes we go down low for," said boom operator Ken Hatchett.
Because the main mission of the A-10s is to take out tanks, they fly at very low levels.
"The aircraft has a weapon on the front, and that is used to take out tanks," he said.
The KC-135 slowed from 275 miles per hour to 220 miles per hour to offload a total of 4,000 pounds of fuel. At its maximum rate, the boom is able to offload about 6,500 pounds of fuel per minute.
An average passenger car could operate for more than a year on the amount of fuel transferred through the air refueling boom on a KC-135 in one minute.
"We can pump out a lot of fuel in a very short amount of time," said Lieutenant Gary Lockard.
The KC-135, flown by the 434th Air Refueling Wing, is one of 16 of the sort at Grissom Air Reserve Base. The planes can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.
"It's a flying gas station," Lancette said.
Because the plane can hold so much fuel, it can travel 12,000 miles non-stop.
While the plane didn't reach its maximum speed and altitude on this mission, the Stratotankers can fly at near sonic speeds and at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.
The Grissom Air Reserve Base puts in over 5,000 flying hours per year and goes on five to six missions per day.
"A lot of people don't realize we go on so many missions," said Lockard.
The 434th Air Refueling Wing is the largest KC-135 unit in the entire Air Force Reserve command.
"There are a lot of units out there. There are over 20 when you add the National Guard and the Air Force Reserve that flies KC-135 Stratotankers, but we are the largest,” he said. “We have two squadrons. Most units in the Guard or Reserve only have one.”
Because Grissom Air Reserve Base has double the amount of aircraft that other Guard or Reserve units have, Grissom is the first base to be called on in case of emergency, Lockard explained.
“In many cases, with one phone call you can get double the amount of combat capability than you can with other units, so the 434th remains a very popular unit,” he said.
In May 1999, the 434th Air Reserve Wing was called upon to provide aerial refueling to support Operation Allied Force. More than 200 personnel and eight aircraft were deployed to various European locations.
Since the terrorist attacks of September 2001, the 434th Air Reserve Wing has been mobilized in support of Operations Nobel Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn, and Odyssey Dawn.
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