Seymour’s 1st KC-135 Flies the Coop

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Mary McKnight
  • 916th Air Refueling Wing
The first of 12 KC-135 Stratotankers has flown the coop at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina and joined the flock at Fairchild AFB, Washington.
The divestiture of the 916th Air Refueling Wing’s KC-135 fleet began with the 92nd Air Refueling Wing acquisition of aircraft 62-3537 on Oct. 16.
“Today’s a great day for the Air Force Reserve Command,” said Col. Craig McPike, 916 ARW commander. “We’ve completed the first of 12 deliveries to the Fairchild Air Force Base, as we go into the conversion of the KC-46. Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is about to receive the newest KC-46 tanker and we are making space for it by bringing our fleet of KC-135s to Fairchild. We’re looking forward to the challenges and opportunities that the KC-46 will bring, for us this marks the first day of that transition.”
In regards to acquiring the aircraft for Col. Gene A. Jacobus, 92 ARW vice commander, his feelings are parallel to those of McPike’s.
“We are so grateful and excited to expand our KC-135 fleet here at Fairchild,” said Jacobus. “We are grateful to the Seymour Johnson leadership team that brought this first aircraft to us and the Greater Spokane community who receives our Airmen and their families with open arms.”
As Jacobus welcomes the additional aircraft with open arms of his own, Col. Christopher C. Holland, 916th Operations Group commander, has not found it as easy to let go.
“A bitter sweet moment,” said Holland. “We are looking forward to the future, but at the same time mourning the aircraft we have been flying and pushing missions in so well. Some of the guys have flown this aircraft their entire career. We’re looking forward to what’s next, but in that same instance we’ll definitely miss the KC-135.”
As the assistant dedicated crew chief on aircraft 62-3537, Tech Sgt. Dustin Brown, 916th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron crew chief, found himself reminiscent of the time he’s spent working on the KC-135.
“There’s a lot of history with this aircraft,” said Brown. “It’s an old, old aircraft, some of the oldest we have in the United States Air Force. The fact that these planes are able to go from one base to another to continue their mission, speaks volumes to the maintainers, operators and leadership we have at this base. It’s a big deal when you have an aircraft that’s over 50-years-old completing missions, that’s pretty impressive.”
As the 916 ARW’s rendezvous comes to an end with the KC-135, this wing can rest assured the aircraft they have been operating and maintaining for the past 24 years are in good care with the 92 ARW. Fairchild has been home to the KC-135 since its arrival into the Air Force, in February 1958.