Back to Squawk list
  • 41

The Amazing Images Of This USAF Aerial Refueling Boom Operator

America's cadre of KC-135 and KC-10 'Booms,' the guys and gals that refuel allied military aircraft while hurtling through the atmosphere, are a proud and talented bunch, and one of them is just as skilled behind a camera as behind an aerial refueling boom. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

Marquis Witt 4
The tanker hardly HURTLES through the air. A stable platform and slow maneuvering are responsible for for the success of air refueling.

For twelve years I was a pilot on the Kc-97 and KC -135.
The relative speed on the tanker and receiver is constant and the tanker pilot keeps it that way as stable platform. The boom operator coaxes the receiver in by verbal instructions or silent signals.

There are very few instances of such radical maneuvers as shown in the clip attached to the boomer's story. They occur rarely and are likely caused by turbulence, damage to the receiver, or incorrect procedures by either crew.

In all, there have been uncounted thousands of successful refuelings and rare cases of hair-raising stories. That is because of the professional action of the entire crew of the tanker crews and bomber-fighter crews.

Marquis G Witt
Lt Col USAF (ret)
John Taylor 2
I was lucky enough to spend 8 yrs in the F-4 refueling from both aircraft; and you're words are right on target! A couple of observations on some of the other comments: In my day we called them "boomers" not "booms"? And lighting up your "burners" on the boom? I don't think so! Anyway.....most were phenominal guys. The procedure was to be "in-position" and "stable" before he was allowed "hook" you....but I've often seen 'em reach out to the "angle-limit" of the boom and literally drag an Emerg-Fuel or battle damaged airplane into position. Repeat...they were great guys; and these are great pics!
RetAF 1
"Hey about I run the limits, PDI off?"


"Going, left, upper inner."


Then after reaching the left, upper, inner.

"Going to right, lower, outer".


Running the box, corner to corner.

KC10s 1978 - 1994
pp233ee 2
Comfortable with the supports. I fell asleep back there in a KC-135 nav leg from Spokane to Tinker AFB in the late 60's over Nevada. The view while on your tummy is fantasic! Great aircraft.
When is some publisher going to get these incredible photos into a book?
Ameer Hamza 1
Good work in a nice and control way.
Tim Swift 1
Fantastic job Jamie Morton
Matt Richards -1
A bunch more pics:


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.