A-10 refueling with KC-135, Tucson photographer

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Yesterday, I got the opportunity of a lifetime – I flew in a KC-135 while it refueled a squadron of A-10s from Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson. The tanker, from Kansas, was in town for several days, training its own pilots and boom operators, and allowing hog pilots to gain experience and currency in refueling during day and night missions.

While at Nellis several years ago, I’d been able to ride with a tanker while it refueled F-16s with the 422. Yesterday’s flight was extra special for me, though, as my husband is an A-10 pilot, and I also got to spend a lot of time during the flight with the booms, watching them refuel the jets. One thing I was reminded of during the flight – the A-10 is big! There were only a few times I could capture the whole jet in the boom window, as its wingspan is pretty impressive.

We took off from Tucson at about noon, and headed east to airspace over New Mexico, where we rendezvoused with several Warthogs from the Bulldogs and Dragons. It was pretty incredible to watch as the boom operators lowered and extended the flying boom to hook up to the fighter planes. There are a lot of variables that go into air refueling, and I was impressed with the cool calm of the booms as they hooked and unhooked from the hogs.

A huge thank you to the booms for letting me pester you with questions while you worked!

me and Jenny in the cockpit, KC-135

Me and Jenny in the cockpit.

KC-135 tanker pilot

The instructor pilot sits in the right seat before takeoff.

an airman on an incentive ride, KC-135

A DM airman on an incentive flight.

watching an A-10 pull up for fuel

Jenny watches as her husband flies up for fuel.

ready for takeoff, KC-135

KC-135 flight

The boom looks for A-10s in the skies over New Mexico.

The boom looks for A-10s in the skies over New Mexico.

An A-10 positions itself to receive fuel.

An A-10 positions itself to receive fuel.

a boom operator waits, KC-135, Kansas

refueling A-10s over Arizona, Davis Monthan AFB

Probably the only way you want to see an A-10 come up behind you.

the mighty Hog, flying below a tanker

A-10s on the wing of a KC-135

Warthog in flight

flying in formation with the tanker

A-10s from DMAFB

A boom operator looks for A-10s in the sky below, KC-135

                   Looking for A-10s.

Hogs refueling over New Mexico

A-10 warthog behind a KC-135 tanker

warthogs refueling

A-10 comes in for fuel

A-10 warthog refuels

A-10 approaches the boom

DM A-10

Davis Monthan AFB A-10

A-10 over the desert

fuel spray from the boom, A-10

Fuel spray from the boom flows over the Warthog.

A-10 pulls away from KC-135

A-10 and KC-135

Warthog in flight

A-10 Warthog from the bay of a KC-135

Ready for some BRRRRRRT.

A-10 pulls away after refueling


KC-135 pilots completing landing checklist

Going through the landing checklist.

me and Jenny in the cockpit

sitting in the engine of a KC-135