Air Force To Mark 100 Years Of Air Refueling


The U.S. Air Force plans to conduct flyovers across all 50 states on June 27 as a tribute to 100 years of air-to-air refueling efforts. Aircraft scheduled to take part in the event include KC-135 Stratotanker, KC-10 Extender and KC-46 Pegasus aircraft. More than 150 tankers from 26 installations are expected to participate.

“Air refueling propels our nation’s airpower across the skies, unleashing its full potential,” said Air Mobility Command Commander Gen. Mike Minihan. “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.”

The first aerial refueling operation took place on June 27, 1923, when fuel was successfully transferred between two Army Air Service De Haviland DH-4Bs through a gravity hose. The mission was flown by 1st Lt. Virgil Hine, 1st Lt. Frank W. Seifert, Capt. Lowell H. Smith and 1st Lt. John P. Richter. Currently, the Air Force is in the process of expanding its refueling fleet with 128 KC-46A Pegasus tankers on contract with the Boeing. The KC-46A can transfer up to 1,200 gallons of fuel per minute and is capable of refueling 64 aircraft types.

Kate O'Connor
Kate O’Connor works as AVweb's Editor-in-Chief. She is a private pilot, certificated aircraft dispatcher, and graduate of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

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  1. In 1929 then Major Spaatz commanded the Question Mark ? Fokker C-2A and he and his crew set an endurance record of 151 hours while being refueled by a hose from two Douglas C-1 aircraft used during the endurance flight. USAF has been at this method of refueling for a long time. Congratulation to the Air Force on this 100 year milestone.

  2. I am very proud to have part of the long service of USAF air refueling from 1956 to1971 flying KC-97’s and KC-135’s. I believe I got to fly the most perfect KC-135 air refueling flight that was ever flown. I took of from Spain to refuel a B-52 and off loaded 145,000 pounds of JP-4 and landed back in Spain logging 1hour and 5 minutes flying time
    Lt/Col Willard Ottman USAF (Ret)

  3. “More than 150 tankers from 26 installations are expected to participate.”

    And let’s not forget all of the receiver aircraft. I can’t wait to hear the outcry from the greenies about all the jet fuel being burned for a “celebration”.

    Now, if this is all normal training missions and gets carried out routinely, I say, “So what?”, but let’s not forget that we no longer have energy independence.