The U.S. Air Force is celebrating 100 years of air-to-air refueling, and the 305th Air Mobility Wing at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst will embark on aerial refueling demonstrations with mission partners throughout the United States and overseas on Tuesday.
“During these flights, our air crews plan to fly at lower altitudes to allow the opportunity to capture this imagery from various locations in the northeast region,” said Derek Van Horn, a base spokesman.
While mission requirements and weather could pose changes, the general path of the aircraft will follow the ocean and be as follows in New Jersey:
- 1:03 p.m.: Asbury Park, NJ
- 1:10 p.m.: Barnegat Light, NJ
- 1:17 p.m.: Atlantic City NJ
- 1:25 p.m.: Cape May, NJ
- 1:42 p.m.: Philadelphia Airport
The flyover will begin with one KC-135, 8 KC-46s, and 6 C-17s departing from the 305th Air Mobility Wing at the Joint Base. There will be two formations flying the route, approximately 20 minutes apart.
Aerial refueling dates back to June 27, 1923, when U.S. Army Air Service aviators pulled off what many believed was impossible. On that day, 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, accomplishing the first aerial refueling.
The KC-46, which will be represented Tuesday, is the Air Force’s newest tanker, based on the commercial Boeing 767 airliner. With a twin-engine design, it is more efficient than the older KC-135 (based on the four-engine Boeing 707 airliner) and KC-10 (based on the trijet McDonnell Douglas DC-10 airliner).
The KC-46 is the first refueling aircraft in U.S. service to utilize a digital “vision” system to guide refueling probes into aircraft rather than physically stationing airmen at the rear of the aircraft. The setup is similar to its European rival, the Airbus A330 MRTT.
“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. Air refueling embodies our resolve to defend freedom and project power, leaving an indelible mark on aviation history.”