Air Refueling Archive

Huge Collection of Air Refueling Pictures

About

Access my entire collection from the OneDrive link below:

I have amassed a very large collection (over 1,000) of air to air refueling pictures and want to share them on this website. My collection includes many rare pictures (ever see an A-10 refuel from a KC-97?) of over 120 different receiver types. Whenever possible I will try to provide a link to the source(s), but I have been collecting the pictures for years on my hard drive and it may be very difficult to track down the original source.

If you find any errors on this site or have additional information about the topic please let me know and I will update the page.

Every great picture has a great story to go along. I have many great pictures, unfortunately I don’t have all of the stories. If anyone has additional information on any of the pictures featured on this site I would love for you to share your story. I am especially interested in documenting the old piston powered tankers, their stories are slowly fading away. This site is all about documenting the nitty-gritty details, so if the more specifics you have the better (quirks, ect…). Likewise, if anybody has unique air refueling pictures I would love to see them. You can send info to the address below:

sendto

Please use the comments section below the images as a place to discuss the picture and leave further information for others to read. Your discussion adds greatly to the historic value of this site and to the legacy of air refueling crew members.

Below is a brief list of things I am looking for, but any info is welcomed.

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28 Comments »

  1. Hi I was a boom operator in the late 70’s & I love pics of air-refueling. I would like to see more of your pics. You said you have over a 1000; where can I go on you web site to see them. I have 2 boys (9& 10) that would love to see more.
    Thanks

    Mike

    Comment by Mike | January 14, 2010 | Reply

  2. I am looking for a picture of a 46th ARS (K.I.Sawyer) 135 with the rainbow flash on the tail. Any help would be appreciated.

    Comment by John Stevens | June 9, 2010 | Reply

  3. Thanx very much for some fantastic pictures mate,i really enjoyed your AAR track map of the US.I was wondering if you have in your itinery a map of the AAR tracks over us here in the UK,as i think i know of some but would really like to know of the ones that the USAF use,i believe they use one over the wash in the southeast and the other is over Scotland way over the north sea !?! If you could help me with a map that i might be able to store within my own documents for my own hobby i would deeply appreciate it 🙂
    Lance Smith.

    Comment by LANCE SMITH | July 30, 2010 | Reply

  4. I was a KC-135 pilot during 1971-1975, stationed at Seymour Johnson AFB, NC. I flew 98 combat missions in SEA, most of them out of Utapao and Kadena. I was looking for information on a crash involving one of our crews from SFAFB that occurred at Torrejon in 1974, but I don’t see it on your list. The craft landed short of the runway and all aboard perished.

    Comment by Wally Divino | January 8, 2011 | Reply

  5. I have some black and white polaroids that my uncle took from his F-84G of them refueling as a squadron. He was stationed at Turner AFB in Georgia and I was told that he was a member of the Fox Able One mission. I was told that this was the first squadron to fly the Atlantic while refueling. Can you confirm this and would you be interested in copies of the pics for the site?

    Comment by Rusty Kehl | March 20, 2011 | Reply

    • If it isn’t too much work to scan them, then I wouldn’t mind. I think that it would make a nice addition to the site.

      Comment by Boom | March 20, 2011 | Reply

    • I would be interested in seeing the photos Wally. I believe that my second cousin was the Squadron Commander during this deployment.

      Comment by John Stevens | March 21, 2011 | Reply

      • John,

        I just activated my registration with Airrefueling and saw your comment, I’d be interested to know what information you might have on this mission. I have tried US Airforce History and I get no response. My uncle flew a F-84G – it had an arrow down the side of the aircraft. I’ll dig up the info and get it out.

        Comment by Rusty Kehl | March 24, 2011

    • Rusty, if you ever have the chance to scan these pictures you can email them to airrefuelingarchive [at] gmail [dot] com

      Comment by Boom | March 3, 2013 | Reply

  6. Rusty,

    The info I have is just family stories. I will have to do some more research to see what I can find. His name was BG Thayer Stevens Olds.

    Comment by John Stevens | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  7. Rusty,
    I just got the following “General Olds became a jet pilot at the age of 46, and in August 1953 led 20 F-84 Thunderjets of the 508th Strategic Fighter Wing from Turner Air Force Base to England in an historic non-stop flight which was accomplished by the use of air-to-air refueling.” From the official Air Force biography of General Olds. He was commander of the 40th Air Division at Turner AFB at the time.

    Comment by John Stevens | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  8. Rusty,

    Here is some more:

    August 20, 1953

    “Appropriately nicknamed Operation Longstride, the first mass nonstop fighter flight over the Atlantic was a dual mission conducted by the 31st and 508th Strategic Fighter Wings, located at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia. These wings were assigned to the 40th Air Division.”

    ‘Within a few minutes after Colonel Schilling’s flight was on its way to North Africa, the second phase of Operation Longstride began. This flight of 20 Thunderjets was led by Colonel Thayer S. Olds, 40th Air Division Commander and Colonel Cy Wilson, 508th Wing Commander. Using the North Atlantic route, the 508th’s fighters were also refueled three times, once over Boston by KB-29 tankers of the 100th Air Refueling Squadron, once near Labrador by KC-97s of the 26th Air Refueling Squadron, and once near Iceland by KC-97s of the 306th Air Refueling Squadron, which was TDY to England. The main flight of 17 landed at Lakenheath RAF Station, England, approximately 11 hours and 20 minutes after leaving Turner. Three Thunderjets were held over one day at Keflavik before completing the flight. The flight returned to Turner on 12 September.” The Development of Strategic Air Command 1946-1981, A Chronological History, 1 July 1982, Office of the Historian, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, NE

    Comment by John Stevens | March 29, 2011 | Reply

    • I have my Uncle’s Air Force file I’ll have to look at it and the dates. I know that he was at Turner about that time.

      Comment by Rusty Kehl | March 30, 2011 | Reply

  9. got to your site while looking for information on the crash of 57-1442 in Jan 65. I stood honor guard at the memorial service for the crew at Clinton-Sherman. I notice you show the cause as hard over rudder – we were told there was some kind of engine failure due to intake of foreign material – in any case it was a real tragedy for anyone who knew the crew and also
    due to the large number of people killed at the crash site.

    Comment by Smitty | June 30, 2011 | Reply

  10. I noticed the comment by Lance Smith from last year about the AAR track map. Where is it located? I have tried to find it but just can’t seem to come up with it. I would like to see if it could be used in a display at our museum. Thanks

    Comment by John Stevens | June 30, 2011 | Reply

  11. I was a Boeing engineer starting in 1950, i worked on the KC97 development. I was in a car pool with some of the engineers working on the boom development for the KB-29P . I am interested in finding more about the very early development of the boom. Some of the patents are in Clifford Leisy’s name (no relation) but I am curious of the real early days of original development at Boeing.

    Comment by Dale Leisy | August 15, 2012 | Reply

    • Very interesting. I did a Google Patent search for Clifford Leisy and it comes up with a lot of very interesting patents!

      Comment by Boom | August 15, 2012 | Reply

  12. I’m so glad I stumbled upon this website. Thank you for putting the time and dedication into capturing such an amazing piece of our military history! I’ll send you some pictures as soon as I filter through what I have. I spent some time on the KC-135 and am now a KC-10 boom. With any luck I’ll get to fly on the KC-46 too.

    Comment by Jake Dieter | March 3, 2013 | Reply

  13. I have photographs that my uncle took from the cockpit of his F-84G during Operation Longstride. He flew out of Turner Air Force, Albany Georgia.

    Comment by Rusty Kehl | March 3, 2013 | Reply

    • Rusty, I would be interested in seeing the F-84G photos as my second cousin, BG Thayer Olds was the leader of the second flight of F-84s in the Operation Longstride mission.
      August 20, 1953

      “Appropriately nicknamed Operation Longstride, the first mass nonstop fighter flight over the Atlantic was a dual mission conducted by the 31st and 508th Strategic Fighter Wings, located at Turner Air Force Base, Georgia. These wings were assigned to the 40th Air Division.”

      ‘Within a few minutes after Colonel Schilling’s flight was on its way to North Africa, the second phase of Operation Longstride began. This flight of 20 Thunderjets was led by Colonel Thayer S. Olds, 40th Air Division Commander and Colonel Cy Wilson, 508th Wing Commander. Using the North Atlantic route, the 508th’s fighters were also refueled three times, once over Boston by KB-29 tankers of the 100th Air Refueling Squadron, once near Labrador by KC-97s of the 26th Air Refueling Squadron, and once near Iceland by KC-97s of the 306th Air Refueling Squadron, which was TDY to England. The main flight of 17 landed at Lakenheath RAF Station, England, approximately 11 hours and 20 minutes after leaving Turner. Three Thunderjets were held over one day at Keflavik before completing the flight. The flight returned to Turner on 12 September.” The Development of Strategic Air Command 1946-1981, A Chronological History, 1 July 1982, Office of the Historian, Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt Air Force Base, NE

      Comment by John Stevens | March 13, 2013 | Reply

      • John, I’ll be glad to make copies for you, if you like. It might take a bit of time, I’ll have to pull them out of their frames. The two are very nice sequential photographs: one shot has a F-84G drinking from the tanker with FS-252 waiting for her turn and my uncle next in line, taking the photo. The second shot shows the first F-84G banking away with FS-252 getting refueled and my uncle, FS-249, waiting his turn. If you care to send your address, I’m at rbkehl1776@aol.com.

        Comment by Rusty Kehl | March 13, 2013

  14. Hi Rusty, I just came upon your site while reminiscing about my days as a boom operator on the KC-135A. I thought I would share a story about your picture of the Boom Operator memorial. If one looks closely, on the entry of Jan ’89 you will see the name Capt. Robert Llewellyn. Although it seems out of place for a commissioned officer to be listed in a tribute to enlisted position, he is listed because before becoming a KC-135 pilot, “Dusty” Llewellyn was a KC-135 boom operator. He and the other boomer listed, SSgt David “Wolf” Vickers were lost in a tragic crash out of Dyess AFB, along with 3 other crewmembers and 12 passengers. The two were squadron mates and friends of mine at K.I. Sawyer AFB, where that flight had originated. I’m not sure if you have heard this story before, but if not, I hope it is helpful.

    Comment by heyboom | March 17, 2013 | Reply

    • Hey Boom, Do I have you on the roster of the 46th ARS Association? Let me know your name and e-mail address please at 46thars@sbcglobal.net Thanks. John Stevens

      Comment by John Stevens | August 27, 2013 | Reply

  15. Why is it that KC-135A, 61-0273 is not listed? That was the tanker that crashed as a result of a mid-air over Palomares, Spain, with a B-52G, T/N# 58-0256. This resulted in the loss of 4 nukes, later recovered 2 whole and two which ruptured spilling their radioactive material on Spanish soil. The crew on the tanker were: Major Emil T. Chapla (dead,) Capt. Paul R. Lane (missing,) Capt. Leo M. Simmons (missing) and MSgt. Lloyd C. Potoliccio (dead.) While MSgt. Potoliccio, is listed on the memorial, the only aircraft on the KC’s that crashed on 17 Jan 1966, is one from Amarillo, TX., T/N#57-1424. How did an event that was news around the world get left off the listing of destroyed tankers? I know it was news, as I was the Minot AFB, newspaper editor at the time. That was before I became a ‘135 boomer.

    Comment by H. Lee Tedder | May 28, 2013 | Reply

  16. Hi Rusty, Long-term follower of your excellent work; please keep it up. I have used some of your pictures for training and presentations and would love to see more of them. I am a former RAF VC10 tanker/receiver pilot, had the honor of serving 4 years as a KC-10 IP/EP on a NATO exchange at Travis, I spent a further 4 years in the RAAF on the KC-30A project, then a year at Airbus on the A330 MRTT project and I’m now in the UAE, as an IP/EP on the A330 MRTT. I do enjoy a spot of Air refueling! Cheers.

    Comment by Dave Wood | May 20, 2014 | Reply

  17. This comment is with reference to a question on the website about Boeing 747 tankers.

    I was a KC-135A navigator at Pease AFB, NH from January 1976 until March 1979. My very first alert was at one our satelite alert locations, specifically McGuire AFB NJ. During the one week alert tour two brand new Iranian 747 tankers made an overnight stop for crew rest and fuel at McGuire prior to continuing on to Iran, and they parked near our alert facility. Prior to their departure, our crew got a tour of one of these brand new 747 tankers. Beautiful aircraft. Months later the AF chose the KC-10 for their new tanker, which coincidently was just several months after the American DC-10 crash in Chicago. The consensus of opinion among tanker crews at the time was that McDonnel Douglas got the KC-10 contract to keep the company afloat after the accident.

    Comment by Bob Beers | May 30, 2014 | Reply

  18. Hi, I’m one of those left behind, a Tanker Nav, that started my career as a KC-97L assistant crew chief and ended my career just short of the end of reliable tanker navigation. I love your site. I knew several KC-135 A/E crew that have gone west in the line of duty. I cannot thank the webmaster enough for creating this.

    Comment by Major Michael R. Stack, USAF (Ret.) | April 1, 2015 | Reply

  19. does anyone know a don wilder who was a boom operator at plattsburg AFB during the 1976 to 1980

    Comment by ken clark 240z owner | June 4, 2016 | Reply


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