This is topic Refueling of Afghanistan in forum TWA at Smilin' Jack.

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Posted by fdobcy (Member # 3039) on :
Click following link Refueling enjoy marc
Posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback (Member # 3010) on :
Enjoyed the video, Marc. Thanks!

That was now, this was then! (Refueling starts about 1:50 into the video)

In the video I posted it took about 3 tankers to refuel 1 bomber while Marc's tanker refueled about 4 different aircraft, and in our case the bombers were on the edge of a stall while the tankers were at METO power (Notice the angle of attack of the B-47). The most common request from the bombers was, "Could you give us five more knots?" which we could only do in a slight descent, so we always wound up about 2 or 3000 ft. lower after refueling.
Posted by Roger Moore (Member # 2204) on :
Interesting to view from tankers viewpoint as I was always the rwciver. Only did Prob and Drogue method which was always dicey at nite in weather. Roger Moore
Posted by extwacaptain (Member # 381) on :

Your contributions are always most interesting and appreciated.

That refueling in flight doesn’t appear to be much “fun”.

Questions for Captains Rawl and Moore:
Just curious to know if the refueling process presented as much danger as viewing the video would indicate. Accepting the fact that there would be the ever present chance of a collision due to fatigue, weather, other circumstances....What were the possibilities of a fire (if any) from spillage during the transfer?

Another frustrated “wanted-to-be single engine pilot” friend

[ 10-30-2014, 15:44: Message edited by: extwacaptain ]
Posted by Roger Moore (Member # 2204) on :
We lost a F100F (2seater) in the DC ANG when the boomer slippied and dropped the basket on the cockpit and smashed it in onto the IP in the front seat. They tried a pattern at altitude and below 200 knots the IP could not see. The guy in the back seat was just back from flight school and not yet checked out in the aircraft so they did a controlled ejection sucessfully. And yes it was at night. Roger Moore
Posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback (Member # 3010) on :
Originally posted by extwacaptain:
Questions for Captains Rawl and Moore:
Just curious to know if the refueling process presented as much danger as viewing the video would indicate. Accepting the fact that there would be the ever present chance of a collision due to fatigue, weather, other circumstances....What were the possibilities of a fire (if any) from spillage during the transfer?

Collisions between tankers and bombers were surprisingly uncommon as I recall. My squadron never experienced one during my 4 years in it, and I don't believe they ever did in the entire history of the squadron. Ditto with fuel spillages. If any was ever spilled it was immediately whisked away by the slipstream.

MITOs (Minimum Interval Take Offs) puckered me more than refueling ops. These consisted of takeoffs 15 sec. apart at 175,000 lbs (in aircraft that were certificated for 153,000 lbs.) to get as many aircraft airborne as possible in the event that Soviet missiles were on the way. The only accident my squadron ever experienced during my time there was during a MITO, when No. 4 couldn't get out of the wake turbulence of the preceding airplanes and mushed into the base golf course, killing all 5 crew members instantly. No. 5 would have followed him in, but somehow managed to avoid the fireball. It so happened that I was in the lead ship of that MITO, and will never forget the Boom Operator, who was watching from his station, announcing over the interphone, "Number Four crashed and burned!"

I'm sure there were others, but two tanker/bomber collisions I specifically recall were: Early 1965 when one of the B-47s from my base collided off the coast of Newfoundland with a KC-135 from another base during refueling, killing all on board both aircraft. The other was when a B-52 and a KC-135 collided over Spain in 1966, scattering 4 H-Bombs over the Spanish real estate and causing an international incident.
Posted by extwacaptain (Member # 381) on :
Captain Eddie and Captain Moore,

Your responses are most interesting and appreciated.
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
In either '84 or '85 a KC-135 and an E-3A bumped over Saudi Arabia. It was a matter of pilot error in that there was a USN Captain getting a hop on the tanker who talked the pilots of the two USAF planes into flying along side each other so he could get some photos. If I correctly remember the story I heard, the port wing of the tanker lifted and smacked the #4 engine of the AWACS. The tanker lost 6 feet off its' wing, the E-3 engine was shut down. The E-3 was out of Tinker, of course, and I think the tanker was from K.I. Sawyer. Anyway, pilot error: very, very bad judgement.

I need to check in with a buddy later tonight; he'll remember this incident and if I learn anything different, I'll edit the post.

During my year in SEA, I probably controlled 1200 aerial refuelings. They were mostly KC-135s and fighters with a few -111s and EB-66s thrown in. I heard a few "breakaway" calls but I don't recall any incidents where the tanker and receiver made contact but in the way they were supposed to. Perhaps because the strike packages were very large and the tankers flew in cells of, usually, four aircraft everyone was very focused on the job at hand. There was just way too much aluminum sharing the airspace for pilots to get careless.
Posted by Skyking (Member # 120) on :
I flew B-52Hs and spent many hours hanging on a KC-135 boom.

The Palemeros accident was on a "Chrome Dome" a 25 hour nuclear alert flight.
The first refueling was North of Madrid and was three tankers on two bombers. Offloads of 150,000# for each airplane. 50,000# and then 100,000# from the other tanker. This was near the fuel limit for the KC-135 and after the refuel they had to rush back to Madrid (Torrejon AFB?). We always worked at being in the "One Gulp Club" ... no disconnects and let the tankers go home.

The Palemeros collision was on the Westbound return and we would top off to max weight ... 488,000# for the crossing. This is when the accident happened.

Our normal training refuels were at 29,000' and 255 KIAS, but once when I was upgrading to Aircraft Commander, there was an airspace restriction and we were held to a 24,000' max altitude. What a difference! Everything was incredibly stable and no challenge at all! I passed the checkride!

The one thing the boom operators did not like was when the reciever got too close and too low. If the reciever pulled up to correct he could jam the boom and bring the tanker into a dive! One of the last pictures in the video shows ( What I thought ) might be one too close.

Great videos, Thanks Marc.
Posted by Bob Ritchie (Member # 1035) on :
Good to hear from you Ward,

I recall fondly our flights together. Trusting that all is well with you and your loved ones. Enjoy the freedom of retirement.

Bob Ritchie
Posted by extwacaptain (Member # 381) on :
PITbeast and SKYKING,

The additional contribution of your stories has to make this one of the more fascinating discussions to appear on this board in recent times. (In my opinion)

Reading them gives a fella pride in having been in the same branch of the military service.
Posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback (Member # 3010) on :
Originally posted by extwacaptain:
Reading them gives a fella pride in having been in the same branch of the military service.

Speaking for myself alone, Capt. Randy, your service during WW II far overshadows my 12 years of Cold War service.
Posted by Skyking (Member # 120) on :
Captain Randy,

It was guys like you that inspired me into making this a career.
First the military and then the airlines.
We try daily to live up to the example you set.

Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
Thanks for the kind words, Randy. But I gotta admit it's getting harder and harder to remember the precise details of those "Back when I was..." stories.
Posted by extwacaptain (Member # 381) on :
And, obviously, quite often, it is becoming more and more difficult for me to "Say what I mean".

[Big Grin] [Big Grin]
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
Regarding the E-3 and KC-135 collision, I got the basic info correct: Something happened. I failed with the details. However, a very good friend who's memory is much better than mine provided the details. I've done a cut and paste of his email; but I have removed the names of those directly involved.


Yes, it was December 9, 1983 in Saudi Arabia.Our crew heard about it in Iceland the very next day. The pilots were XXX (taking pictures from the left seat) and YYY, Both were in the 964th and IP-qualified. The heading of both aircraft was southeasterly; however, the AWACS heading was somewhat canted-in about 3 - 4 degrees different from the KC-135, so over the course of about 150 miles, the wings collided ; no one "broke the chain of events." The navigator told them that they were too close - - he and the FE came out unscathed. The SAC KC-135 crew from Blytheville AFB, all faced courts-martial ("courts" is the plural form).  There was at least eight feet of E-3 wing that came off, the tanker fodded two engines, but recovered in Riyadh. Word came out that later, Boeing made a simulation in which the same scenario took place and that the E-3 went into a flat spin - - no one was able to recover the aircraft in the simulation (there must have been a bunch of Guardian Angels working to get all the E-3 crew (and tanker crew) back to Riyadh for it was surely a miracle from The Almighty, Himself).  Both E-3 pilots lost their wings. XXX "got religion" walking around with a Bible and never flew for the USAF again. YYY’s dad was a two-star general who told him to forget ever flying for the USAF again. YYY tried but was unsuccessful. Believe it or not, Colonel ZZZ (The Jerk) was our Wing CC when I came back from Korea the first time and told us about YYY losing his battle to get his wings back in July 1986 at his in-brief to us "newbies" in training. Seems, YYY had bailed-out of a T-38 when he was in UPT, so that and the mid-air kept him from ever flying again for the USAF, although I do think that the USAF gave his wings back to him.

The repairs were made there in Saudi Arabia so that it would not be more than a Class I accident, thus keeping the AWACS safety record intact. If memory serves correctly, it was E-3 tail number 1604. Flew on it a few times afterward as an MCC, it kind of flew "catty-wumpus" like you were "crabbing" through the air, but the radar was always great! The pilots admitted it was a bitch to do aerial refueling in 1604.

Here is something I found on the "Bing" Search Engine from the KC-135 DETCO, Lt Col William T. Hanson, who wrote a book "PRISONER OF PEACE" about the incident:
It has been said that God sometimes uses the weak to confound the mighty. This is just such a case. On December 9, 1983 there was a mid-air collision between two U.S. Air Force aircraft while flying over the oil fields of Saudi Arabia. One of the aircraft was a Boeing KC-135; the other was a Boeing E-3A AWACS.
“I was on board the KC-135 and took over the controls immediately following the mid-air collision. It was an horrific 45 minutes of inventive flying as I successfully recovered the badly damaged KC-135 at Royal Riyadh Air Base in Saudi Arabia. The AWACS, missing eight feet of its left wing, recovered 45 minutes after us at the same base. Much of the AWACS’ left wing was still stuck in the right wing of the KC-135.
The Commander of the Royal Saudi Air Force, Prince General Fahd, met my plane upon landing and said, “That was the best piece of flying I’ve ever seen. You’ll be a general for sure.” He was only half right. Had he said, “In 13 months you’ll be in front of a General Court-Martial,” he would have been 100 percent correct (by order of Lt. Gen. Wm. Campbell, 8th AF CC at Barksdale in 1985). It was during those 13 months that I came to feel like a. . .PRISONER OF PEACE.

Quoting from one of the Karamazov Brothers, “I was a scoundrel of sorts, but I was not a liar.” We all have our Come To Jesus Moments, and I had mine.

[ 10-31-2014, 05:44: Message edited by: PITbeast ]
Posted by Subsonic Transport (Member # 2139) on :
It makes no difference who tells the story whether its from WWII, Korea, Vietnam or during peacetime. If you have a story, no matter what it is, someone, somewhere will be greatful to read it.

Don't stop here.
Posted by Bob Willcutts (Member # 434) on :

from another "still passing gas" pumper.

Been at both ends of the boom and most scared of the "weekend warrior" cowboys violating formation procedures during refueling.

Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
Ahhh, yes. Let's discuss "cowboys violating formation procedures during refueling".

I'll set the scene: Aerial refueling in SEA took place in blocks of airspace called "anchors" which were given unique names: colors or fruit. For Example: Red Anchor or Cherry Anchor.

Within the anchor. a/c flying in cells of, usually, four were staggered (echelon right or left with 500' altitude separation. (Help me out here, Bob, this was a long time ago.) Cells flying in the same anchor were in a block with, I think, 1000' separation between cells.

Sometimes the anchor was divided into high and low blocks with empty airspace separating the two blocks.

Got it?

So one afternoon I was set up on one of the refueling consoles at the radar site at Udorn RTAFB. (621st TCS, c/s "Brigham"). I was to be responsible for the two or three cells of KC-135s refueling in the Red Anchor. The strike package was scheduled to go north that afternoon (as did the morning strike) so I was probably getting F-4s out of Takhli, Ubon, or, maybe, Udorn to refuel.

I got the receivers on their assigned tankers. Then everybody had to bore a hole in the sky. The weather over Hanoi had gotten very bad and Blue Chip in Saigon had to figure out what to do next.

Anyway, all was well with my birds. I looked away from the scope for just a moment ( I can't remember what the distraction was but I never looked away from a scope long enough to kill anyone.) When I looked back, one of my cells was f-ing gone! (We all said "f-" a lot back then, though we tried to unkey the mike first.)

I called the flight lead (something)-01 (you only talked to the lead tanker) on the assigned freq and got no reply. I called several more times with no luck then called him on UHF Guard.

Number Two replied. I told him to squawk flash and say his position of channel 98 (Udorn). When he did, I found the cell of four tankers each with four F-4s hanging off the wing about 30 miles east of where they should have been and in the open airspace between the high White and low White anchor. The were probably 30 a/c both above and below them.

I immediately gave them a turn to 270 degrees and told them to maintain altitude. I was told they could not do that because the F-4s had been assigned new targets just north of the DMZ and that the F-4 lead had requested that the tankers accompany them and refuel along the way.

Oh, and by the way, the whole gaggle had gone over the the next radar site to the east c/s Invert at NKP who had assigned a new frequency and mode 3 squawk. "And thank you very much and we'll be leaving freq. now. Good day."

I told my Senior Director what had happened. Toad had been having yet another bad day, was fed up, and picked up the phone to call Blue Chip. He told me that we were going to file a violation.

Which meant that I would write up the report, I would break the tapes and he would sign it.

At the end of my shift (a 12 hour shift) i got the report written and was in the middle of listening to the tapes of the mission and writing it all down when the phone rang. It was the safety officer from U-Tapao RTAFB asking about the situation (which I explained) and do we really need to file because....

get ready for this, I am not making this up...

"The tanker crews have only been in country a week and they haven't had local orientation training yet and weren't aware of where the other anchor is located."

I said something like, "Give me your number, Major; let me talk to some people and I'll call you back."

I shut down the tape player and went to the O Club had supper and one of several beers that had been waiting patiently for me.
I told Toad that I didn't want to file on the guys and that was okay with him.

About six hour after I hung up on the major I called him and told him we wouldn't be filing a violation after all. Then 1stLt Sightly Insane told Major Somebody Tell Me How To Do My Job, "Do not let those guys fly again without having local orientation training. If we hear that they've flown without the training, well, we've got the forms filled out and we will file."

Of course I lied to him; the partially filled out forms were in the trash and we were way too busy for transcribing tapes. But it must have had some effect because I never heard of any tanker cells wandering about the sky under the direction of an F-4 jock, for Pete's sake.

Now you might wonder why I was a so rude to the major at U-Tapao; you know, making him wait six hours for a phone call and talking real bossy and just being an ass. Well, I had history with that guy. But is another story for later, maybe. Right now the weather here is gorgeous and I need to pick up more pecans before Winter arrives tomorrow.

[ 11-12-2014, 13:24: Message edited by: PITbeast ]
Posted by extwacaptain (Member # 381) on :

Really enjoyed the stories about refueling.

We only attempted it once from a large "container" in the bomb bay area.....It sprung a leak and we had to discontinue our cigar smoking, however did get to spend a week in Brazil learning how to eat pineapples while repairs were made.

Must have been a bad "hook-up". [Wink]

Low and Slow in a B-twenty fo

[ 11-14-2014, 18:28: Message edited by: extwacaptain ]
Posted by Bob Willcutts (Member # 434) on :
Posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback (Member # 3010) on :
Originally posted by Bob Willcutts:

Suggested caption (If the tanker is a KC-97):
B-47 to KC-97: "Can you give us five more knots? We're about to stall out back here!"
(Heard hundreds of times by Yr. Obt. Svt. during his service as a KC-97 Co-pilot)
Posted by extwacaptain (Member # 381) on :
Would it be safe to say that, with a few well known exceptions, two of the most beautiful sights in the world of flying are/were seeing an extra 5 knots of airspeed (when desired) and an extra 30 minutes or so of fuel when needed?

Most of my favorite TWA captains were probably great poker players. [Wink] They all seemed to have "those two aces up their sleeve" at all times.

signed: Just an average TWA pilot.....Randy Kramer
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
No refueling involved, but cheek out this:

Copy it into your browser window if the link doesn't work..
Posted by smilinjack (Member # 7) on :
Like the B-47 picture....I was a crew chief on one at Chennault AFB, then A crew chief on the B-58 at Bunker Hill AFB....
I learned to fly in the Air Force's Aero clubs...
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
A story about an aerial refueling that did not happen:

On pages 272-273 of his book CLASHES; THE AIR COMBAT OVER NORTH VIETNAM 1965-1972, (USNI, 1997), Marshall L. Michel III wrote of an engagement on October 2, 1972, "Before Buick could catch the MiGs to engage, they had to break off because of low fuel; as they tried to reach a tanker, a series of errors resulted in Buick 3 running out of fuel and ejecting."

Let me fill in the details:

Two Linebacker missions against North Vietnam were scheduled on that day; one early, the other after lunch. The morning strike consisted of KC-135s from U-Tapao, F-4s from Udorn, Ubon, and, possibly Takhli. I'm pretty sure there were F-105s from Korat. Definitely from Korat flew an EC-121 and a Search and Rescue (SAR) package made up of at least one HC-130, some Jolly Greens, and A-7s which were fairly new in-country. There may have been an EB-66 out of Korat airborne. Most likely there were also Marine F-4s and A-6s from Nam Phong.

Flight following, aerial refueling, some degree of command/control, and general crowd control was provided by controllers at the radar sites at Ubon, Udorn, Nakon Phamon, and DISCO, the EC-121, was in a north/south racetrack orbit somewhere north of NKP.

I don't recall anything out of the ordinary happening when the strike package got airborne, did a pre-strike refueling, and ingress. That part was usually pretty well organized; the egress was, sometimes, not.

For the egress, all the support players were in place: DISCO was in its orbit, tankers were in their orbits, as well, though some of them may have reached their bingo state and headed back to U-Tapao. Replacement tankers may have moved into the anchors. The SAR force was orbiting between NKP and Udorn, probably just north of the Mekong River.

At Udorn (c/S BRIGHAM), we knew BUICK flight was hurting for gas and were monitoring the situation. BUICK 3 contacted DISCO for vectors to a tanker. That didn't work. Buick left DISCOs frequency and contacted the tactical controller at Udorn and declared an emergency. There was no tanker close enough to refuel Buick; the controller gave him a vector to Udorn and when BUICK ejected, the controller marked the location and contacted the SAR leader (c/s KING).

While all this is going on, the SAR package was in their orbit aware of the BUICK 3 situation and everybody in the package who had microphone in front of his face just had to talk about it.

When the BRIGHAM controller tried to contact KING to give them the location of where BUICK 3 ejected, he was told to "Standby". This happened a couple of times and then, the controller was told to, "Clear the freq."

At some point a voice was heard saying, "I've got a beeper on Guard..." and he gave a tacan position for the beeper. At which point, the whole package goes charging west until they were over downtown Vientiane at 5000'. This caused phones to ring everywhere because everyone knew that we weren't at war in Laos and get those planes out of there at once.

The controller tried to advise the senior director of what was going on with BUICK 3 and the SAR force but the SD was on the phone having, yet, another bad day.

And then, the controller heard and AIR AMERICA Huey check in on his freq. The chopper had been doing some local flying and was requesting clearance to Udorn and a handoff to RAPCON or, maybe, the tower.

The controller said something like "Have you got enough gas to fly to (position off of the Udorn TACAN) and pick cup an F-4 crew that bailed out?" They said it would be no problem and that is just what they did and brought them home to Udorn.

A couple of points:

A) DISCO should have been able get to BUICK 3 on a tanker;

B) I don't know who told KING to RTB (they may still be there); and

C) When the controller at BRIGHAM finally got off scope and went to the O Club for lunch. there was the crew of BUICK 3 in the bar buying a round for every AIR AMERICA guy in the house. The controller had his usual lunch (grilled cheese sandwich, fries, iced tea) and paid for it himself.

Two final points:

A) When the afternoon Linebacker got started, every AIR AMERICA helicopter in the world checked in on the BRIGHAM tactical frequency and told the controller where they would be working and on what freq. and if we need any assistance give them a call (because they got some kind of bounty for rescuing downed airmen; and

B) For 42 years and 58 days, some USAF F-4 crew has owed that BRIGHAM controller a beer. (And that controller, who is dealing with a kidney stone today, could really use it.)

[ 12-01-2014, 17:52: Message edited by: PITbeast ]
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
Check it out and, oh by the way, isn't the E-3 a fine looking airplane?
Posted by Subsonic Transport (Member # 2139) on :
That final video in the list really catches my attention. I agree, the E-3 is a fantastic looking plane.

The whole list of videos is amazing. I have never seen refueling "gone bad." I always wondered about helicopters and the probe.

I went back and took another look at the website. That sure looks like a TWA aerial refueling 747 to meeee. We gotta get that bird home!

[ 12-23-2014, 08:44: Message edited by: Subsonic Transport ]
Posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback (Member # 3010) on :
Here's a song about it.
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
I cannot remember anyone ever singing that song or any of the songs that guy has posted on Youtube. What I remember is riding the crew bus to the plane and crew members bursting into a spontaneous singing of Willie Nelson's "On the Road Again". On the flight back from a deployment crew members would sometimes sing, "Livin' on Tulsa Time".
Posted by Capn Eddie Ricketyback (Member # 3010) on :
Originally posted by PITbeast:
I cannot remember anyone ever singing that song or any of the songs that guy has posted on Youtube.

Could be that they were a little before your time. Here's the story behind that album and the previous one, "The Wild Blue Yonder," which came out in 1959, and I remember first hearing in the PX (where it was for sale) at my Primary Pilot Training base in 1960. Two of my favorites from the first album are: "I Wanted Wings," and "The Poor Co-Pilot."

The first album was very popular among our generation of pilots, but the second, from whence the refueling song came, not so much. When I decided I wanted CDs of them both about a decade or so ago the only place I could get them was to order them from from Oscar Brand himself, who sent them to me personally with a nice note. He's apparently still alive now at 94. I got a CD of the first one, but could only get the second one on a cassette tape. Still got 'em stashed away somewhere.

[ 12-27-2014, 12:51: Message edited by: Capn Eddie Ricketyback ]
Posted by PITbeast (Member # 108) on :
New Tanker:
Posted by Subsonic Transport (Member # 2139) on :
I stumbled across this story this morning about airliners departing with minimum fuel at max weight and then refueling in air. Sounds like what they did/do with the B-52.

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