19 AW joins community flyover to celebrate 100 years of air refueling

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Dana J. Cable
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Two C-130J Super Hercules from the 19th Airlift Wing flew alongside a KC-135R from Key Field Air National Guard Base, Mississippi, celebrating the 100th anniversary of air refueling, June 27, 2023.

To celebrate this significant milestone and critical capability, the U.S. Air Force conducted flyovers across all 50 states, naming it Operation Centennial Contact. More than 150 tankers from 26 Total Force installations were scheduled to participate with KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-10 Extenders, and KC-46 Pegasus aircraft.

The two C-130Js assigned to the 41st Airlift Squadron met up with the Air National Guard KC-135R while on is its three-state journey across Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 60 years.

While flying over Arkansas the aircraft flew over Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, downtown Fort Smith and the Arkansas State Capitol Building in Little Rock.

Air refueling, also known as aerial refueling, was first demonstrated on June 27, 1923, by the United States Army Air Service when a De Haviland DH-4B passed 75 gallons of gasoline through a hose to another DH-4B flying beneath it. This was the first air-to-air refueling using a gravity-flow hose. Today the U.S. Air Force employs multiple aircraft for refueling, to include the KC-135, KC-10, and the KC-46.

“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.”

This critical capability is essential for the Department of Defense’s most vital missions.

“As members of Air Mobility Command, with the largest C-130J fleet in the world, we are proud to fly alongside our aerial refueling partners as they celebrate this exciting milestone,” said Col. Denny Davies, 19th Airlift Wing and installation commander. “With 100 years of experience, the USAF’s air refueling capabilities deliver unrivaled rapid global reach and meaningful maneuver for the Joint Force and our Allies and partners.”