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KC-135 incentive flights bring renewed Air Force perspective

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos
  • 36th Wing Public Affairs
Are you a pilot? Do you fly planes? These are questions that new Air Force members get bombarded with from nonmilitary family members and friends.

It's a common misconception that everyone in the Air Force flies planes. Though not every Airman is a pilot, members of Team Andersen now have the opportunity to say that they have flown on an Air Force asset.

The 506th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron gave members of Team Andersen a chance to get on a KC-135 Stratotanker incentive flight here, Aug. 10, and learn about the aerial refueling process.

"You hear about being on these flights and you might see aerial refueling on television, but when you actually get up here and see it in person, it's still pretty surreal," said Tech. Sgt. Jermaine Smith, 36th Comptroller Squadron budget analyst, about his experience.

The incentive flight program is open to Andersen personnel, especially those who do not have jobs that require them to be on an aircraft on a regular basis.

"For example, someone from the Military Personnel Flight might never have the opportunity see what a tanker does," said Lt. Col. Robert Taylor, 506th EARS detachment commander. "We want to show those Airmen what a tanker aircraft does to support the mission."

"I was really excited because I've always wanted to be on a flight, but the opportunity didn't open up for me until now," said Senior Airman Andrew Belle, 36th Communications Squadron communication security accountant. "When I found out I was going, it definitely made my day."

Before the flight, the Airmen watch a safety briefing of what they should do in case of an emergency. After that they are shuttled by 506th EARS crew members onto the flightline to board the KC-135 Stratotanker.

The constant rotation of bombers and tankers that conduct training sorties, supported by aerial refueling missions here, make this opportunity available to the Airmen.

"For me, everything was awesome, seeing the refueling and the island tour," said Staff Sgt. Kristen Burch, 9th Operations Group Detachment 3 client support administrator. "The crew has been awesome, friendly and very accommodating."

Colonel Taylor said that the program benefits the overall mission because it gives or renews the Airmen's perspective on how important their job is in the over-all picture of the Air Force.

"We all have different jobs with different roles in the Air Force," he said. "We need all of them to accomplish our mission, from vehicle operations who take care of aircrew vans, to comptrollers and force support Airmen who deal with personnel issues. With this opportunity, we, in 506th EARS hope to show these Airmen that their hard work and contribution ultimately allows pilots, and the world's greatest Air Force as a whole, to go up in the air to fly, fight and win."

The incentive flight program is open to Andersen Airmen and civilian personnel. Those interested can have their supervisors contact 36th Wing public affairs at 366-2228.