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Wisconsin ANG Badger Tanker Passes Some Gas to Triple-Nickle F-16s

Ride Along On an Actual Aerial Refueling Mission With the Crew of a KC-135R

Official US Air Force Photograph

Aerial refueling. Tanking. In-flight refueling. Passing gas. Air-to-air refueling. Tanker tracks. Tanker Toads. Texaco. All terms associated with ensuring one aircraft has the fuel necessary to complete a mission planned to cover more distance than its un-refueled range. 

The United States Air Force (USAF) has been refueling its aircraft in flight since 1949, initially employing modified British looped-hose aerial refueling equipment during the world circumnavigation by the Boeing B-50 Superfortress Lucky Lady II. The “flying boom” method was originally introduced on Boeing B-29s, designated KB-29Ps, during 1950 and 1951. Every Air Force tanker placed in operational service since then has been equipped with the flying boom. Many Air Force tankers can also refuel refueling probe-equipped aircraft using the retractable drogue or “basket.”

Official US Air Force Photograph
The video was shot during the pre-flight and actual refueling mission of a Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker from the 128th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) Badger Tankers of the Wisconsin Air National Guard (ANG) based at General Mitchell Air National Guard Base (ANGB) on Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport. The unit, equipped with the Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker since 1992, is designated as the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron on deployment as an Air Mobility Command (AMC) asset. Prior to flying the KC-135R, the 126th also operated Boeing KC-97L Stratotankers and Boeing KC-135E model Stratotankers. Yes…they shared the same name.

Official US Air Force Photograph
The Wisconsin ANG tanker in the video refuels several 555th Tactical Fighter Squadron (TFS) Triple Nickle General Dynamics Block 40 F-16C Vipers during its mission on the tanker track. The 555th, based at Aviano Air Base in Italy since April of 1994, became a part of the 31st Operations Group (OG) when they moved to Aviano. Evidence suggests that these particular Vipers were prosecuting targets. Enjoy the HD sights and sounds (including talk between tanking pilots and boom operators) in this video.

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.

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