Here is a picture of the boom operator’s panel of the KC-135 stratotanker.
- The gauges at the top indicate the position of the air refueling boom. The green arcs represent the air refueling envelope that the receiver aircraft must remain inside of. The red markings on the gauges are the limits of the air refueling envelope. If the receiver exceeds these limits and the tanker’s signal system is in NORMAL, then an automatic disconnect will occur.
- The boom signal coil voltmeter on the right of the panel shows the status of the boom nozzle signal coil when the PUSH TO TEST button is pressed. The voltmeter displays OPEN, GOOD, and SHORTED.
- The TEST CONTACT button advances the signal system to CONTACT when pressed if the signal amplifier is operational.
- The RESET READY button resets the signal system to READY.
- The blue, green, and orange lights display the current status of the air refueling signal system. The blue READY light indicates the system is ready for contact with a receiver. The green CONTACT light indicates that the boom is in contact with a receiver and that fuel transfer can occur. The orange DISCONNECT light indicates that a disconnect signal has been received.
- The TLSCP AT DISCONNECT (telescope at disconnect) switch selects if the boom will automatically retract when a disconnect signal is received. It has two positions AUTO, and MANUAL.
- The PILOT DIRECTOR LIGHTS are controlled by four rheostats for the background elevation & letters and telescope and for the position elevation and telescope pilot director lights.
- The NACELLE ILLUMINATION rheostats control the brightness of the engine illumination lights.
- The A/R FlOODLIGHT rheostat controls the brightness of the tail mounted air refueling floodlight.
- The BOOM NOZZLE rheostat controls the brightness of the boom mounted nozzle light that shines light on the boom nozzle.
- The UNDER BODY rheostat controls the brightness of lights mounted on the inboard side of the inboard engine struts that illuminate the under body of the aircraft to help with night air refueling.
- The UNDER WING rheostat controls the brightness of lights mounted on the underside of the aft fuselage that illuminage the underside of the wings.
- The BOOM MARKER controls turn on ultraviolet fluorescent tube lights mounted in the boom that cause fluorescent markings on the boom to glow for night air refueling. The ON/OFF switch controls power to the lights and the START positions of the start switch each turn on one of the two fluorescent lights. The neon lights indicate the status of the marker lights.
- The DIRECTOR LIGHTS GROUND TEST switch is used to turn on all pilot director lights at once for maintenance testing.
This is a very scary situation between a NATO E-3 Sentry and a KC-135. The boom operator couldn’t even get out a breakaway call. Makes you wonder what happens when there isn’t a camera filming.
This isn’t something you see every day from the boom pod; a pair of F/A-18Es buddy refueling.
Here is a rare look at a Lockheed S-3 Viking refueling from a KC-135 Boom to Drogue Adapter.
This is a scaled model wind tunnel testing of Actively Stabilized Drogue Refueling System (ASDRS) concept for Automated Aerial Refueling (AAR). This work is performed by UAV Lab at Western Michigan University. Created in response to a request by the US Navy.
These are pictures that I have been in search of for a very long time and I think they might be the new crown jewels of my collection. I was very excited when I finally was able to get copies of them.
Here are pictures of the Bell-Boeing V-22 Osprey refueling from a KC-135 boom to drogue adapter (BDA). These pictures were taken during flight testing and as of the date of this post the V-22 is not included in the ATP-56(B) refueling manual and therefore is not allowed to be refueled.
The boom to drogue adapter replaces the fuel nozzle on the tip of the boom and is attached to a 10′ internally stiffened hose that terminates in a conical drogue. The drogue and hose are not retracted inside the boom and therefore always hang out from the end of the boom. This unusual configuration often draws the attention of other aircraft and ground controllers when KC-135s operate from civilian airfields. During use, the boom is fully extended to 20 feet so that the fuel pressure in the boom does not cause it to extend.
A common question that I receive is what happens if there is a spark during Air Refueling; will we blow up? I think this video dramatically puts to rest any notion that there is a risk of explosion if there is a spark. The two aircraft in this video are a KC-135 and an E-4B. As the two aircraft fly through the air they pick up electrical charge at different rates. This difference is equalized by the spark that jumps between the two aircraft. It is difficult to tell from the video, but it looks like these sparks are 3-5 feet long and jumping between the tanker’s nozzle and the receiver. The dielectric breakdown of air is approximately 3 million volts per meter which suggests that there is something like 3-6 million volts difference between the aircraft.
Video detailing the Royal Singapore Air Force’s KC-135R Stratotanker and its mission. View in HD.
This is a very impressive video of a C-17 holding the pre-contact position behind a KC-135 followed by an aggressive break over a crowd.