TOPEKA (KSNT) — Chances are you see them flying overhead, wherever you may live in Kansas.
We’re talking about the giant re-fueling tankers flown by the Kansas Air National Guard.
Wednesday KSNT News’ Kaitlin Berry got an up close look at the planes and those who fly them in action, as the tankers of the 190th Air Refueling Wing gave an assist to a special flight of navy jets.
The world famous Navy Blue Angels are quite a sight, and they certainly aim to please, and they fly from one side of the country to another but they can’t do it alone.
“You know they make it look like on TV that they fly forever and they never show our part of it,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Dillon.
‘Their part’ is flying the KC 135 tankers.
“We’ll offload gas to them and keep them airborne longer, keep them up,” said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Dillon.
That’s why KSNT News got an unusual look at the Blue Angels.
Boom operators like Dillon lie on their stomachs here looking out the back window. It’s a cramped little space, hard to move around, yet the operators have to be precise.
When a plane flies up the operator lowers a boom, with just four inches of leeway, connects then begins refueling.
They deliver thousands of pounds of fuel to each plane in just a couple of minutes and then do it all over again.
To get the Blue Angels across the country.
“We’re refueling them every 45 minutes,” said Dillon.
“This aircraft that we fly is critical to the United States’ Air Force and critical to our Nation’s defense,” said Major Joe Blubaugh.
Missions like this are training, preparing guardsmen like Dillon for extended missions to get military assets anywhere in the world as quickly as possible.
“It gets harder and more stressful and there’s a lot more action happening,” said Dillon.
It’s not always easy or glorified, but, “I enjoy doing what I do, I love it,” said Dillon.
And the view’s not bad either.
The unit has helped in missions during operations in Kosovo and both Iraq wars, and we’re told this has been the busiest summer the unit has ever had.