JOINT BASE McGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, NJ — On June 27, 1923, a pair of U.S. Army Air Service aviators passed gasoline through a hose from one plane to another in midair.
On Tuesday, 100 years after that first air refueling, the U.S. Air Force will mark the anniversary with aerial refueling demonstrations around the country, including flyovers in New Jersey, the U.S. Air Force announced.
The 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will be flying along part of the coast in New Jersey at lower altitudes to allow people to see and photograph the tribute to the history of air refueling, which has increased the range, speed, flexibility and versatility of the U.S. combat aircraft, officials said in announcing the planned flights.
In that first flight on June 27, 1923, 1st Lt. Virgil Hine and 1st Lt. Frank W. Seifert, flying a DH-4B, passed gasoline through a hose to another DH-4B flying beneath, it carrying Capt. Lowell H. Smith and 1st Lt. John P. Richter.
On Tuesday, the crews departing from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will include one KC-135, 8 KC-46s, and 6 C-17s. The route of flight in New Jersey, with approximate local times, is as follows:
“Aerial refueling serves as a force multiplier, increasing the speed, range, lethality, flexibility and versatility of combat aircraft,” officials said.
The tankers — KC-46, KC-135 and the KC-10s, which are in the process of being retired — also carry cargo and passengers, perform medical evacuations, and “enable strategic deterrence for the United States,” officials said.
“Air refueling propels our Nation’s air power across the skies, unleashing its full potential,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “It connects our strategic vision with operational reality, ensuring we can reach any corner of the globe with unwavering speed and precision.”
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The KC-46A is the newest tanker in the fleet, replacing the KC-10. The final KC-10 Extenderat Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst flew its final flight on June 22, after 33 years of KC-10 service at the base, according to a report by Senior Airman Sergio Avalos of the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst Public Affairs.
KC-10 tail number 84-0188, which flew 33,475.5 flight hours supporting missions in six different continents and refueled more than 125,000 aircraft from 25 different countries, was retired to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona, where it will continue to support the remaining Extenders with spare parts as they are flown for several years while the KC-46A is integrated into Air Mobility Command’s Total Force tanker enterprise, the report said.
“While we are saddened to see the KC-10 depart JB MDL for the last time, it’s the Airmen among us who made this aircraft great, and it’s your stories of perseverance, courage, excellence, and camaraderie that will continue to shine upon the legacy of the KC-10,” U.S. Air Force Col. Elizabeth Hanson, 305th AMW commander, said during her ceremonial remarks.
“As we embark on the next 100 years of air refueling, we will continue to strengthen our air mobility excellence,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “We must leverage the remarkable capabilities of air refueling to preserve peace, protect freedom, and bring hope to the world. As Mobility Airmen, we write the next chapter of air refueling.”
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