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Confessions of a KC-135 Boom Operator

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posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:15 PM
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Tyler Rogoway over at Foxtrotalpha did an excellent write up with the help of some "mystery boom operator" and came out with this great story.

Confessions of a boom operator

They even mention some flying for classified platforms:



Secret aircraft need gas too, and they get it at the hands of qualified booms sitting in the back of KC-10 and KC-135 tankers just like the rest of the unclassified fleet does, but the process is a little different.

Edwards AFB has two refueling squadrons, although I only know of one KC-135 they actually own although it may be more now. The squadrons are the 445th FLTS (active duty) and the 370th FLTS (guard). The 445th supports all experimental aircraft testing while the 370th supports all developmental aircraft testing, but they both can share aircraft and crews, depending on mission needs and workload.

These squadrons do not organically provide enough aerial refueling capability to meet testing demands so Edwards AFB calls for Active and Guard refueling squadrons from all over the US to go there for two week TDY's (temporary duty assignments). Usually these include two jets and crews, except during busy times, like when a new aircraft is in full developmental testing mode, such as the F-22 in the late 90s and early 2000s or the F-35 today.

My first TDY to Edwards was in the early 2000s and my last was in 2006. We belonged to the 445 FLTS during our time there and you have to have a top secret clearance, not an interim clearance (all booms have top secret clearances or interim clearances for SIOP purposes). When we left our home base, we were expecting to be there for F-22 support, at least that's what our paperwork said. But when you get there it's hit or miss what you actually get to refuel. If your flight plan is going into the "box" area tracks (restricted airspace surrounding Area 51), most likely you are going to have security with you (but not always), and most likely your going to see something maybe a few dozen people have seen before, depending on the compartmentalization of the project. It is very exciting to see what actually shows up on the boom to say the least.



Very interesting read!




posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:32 PM
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This has to be one of the coolest pics I've ever seen for a boom...



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:44 PM
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originally posted by: boomer135
This has to be one of the coolest pics I've ever seen for a boom...


What am I seeing in that pic?
Is it a guy in an airplane?, if so, is the plane in level flight? If so, why doesn't he fall on his face?
It looks like he's horizontal to the plane, is that normal?

Maybe I need new eyes LOL



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:48 PM
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Wow, what a great read!

Very well written for sure... It was so interesting, I read it twice!


Thanks for the link, Boomer!!



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:50 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

The boom operator in the KC-135 lays on a bench under the tail of the aircraft looking out through a window at the receiver aircraft. He controls the boom, and the fuel pumps with controls around the bench.

The KC-10 went to a seat, partially due to fatigue related issues brought on by a godawful uncomfortable bench.

KC-10 boom pod

KC-135 boom pod
edit on 5/20/2014 by Zaphod58 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:55 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk

originally posted by: boomer135
This has to be one of the coolest pics I've ever seen for a boom...


What am I seeing in that pic?
Is it a guy in an airplane?, if so, is the plane in level flight? If so, why doesn't he fall on his face?
It looks like he's horizontal to the plane, is that normal?

Maybe I need new eyes LOL


At one point that was the largest piece of pressurized glass in the world. Then the kc-10 had to do it bigger. Lol



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:55 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: VoidHawk

The boom operator in the KC-135 lays on a bench under the tail of the aircraft looking out through a window at the receiver aircraft. He controls the boom, and the fuel pumps with controls around the bench.

The KC-10 went to a seat, partially due to fatigue related issues brought on by a godawful uncomfortable bench.

Thanks, so I dont need new specs just yet



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 01:58 PM
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a reply to: VoidHawk

I edited in pictures of the two stations so you can see what I'm talking about.



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 02:00 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: VoidHawk

The boom operator in the KC-135 lays on a bench under the tail of the aircraft looking out through a window at the receiver aircraft. He controls the boom, and the fuel pumps with controls around the bench.

The KC-10 went to a seat, partially due to fatigue related issues brought on by a godawful uncomfortable bench.

KC-10 boom pod

KC-135 boom pod


And that's why the kc-10 booms were called the Gucci boys...



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 02:02 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

Hey, they could have at least put padding in the damn benches. God those things hurt after awhile.



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 02:16 PM
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originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: VoidHawk

I edited in pictures of the two stations so you can see what I'm talking about.
Thanks. Nice pics


Definitely not a job where you can slurp your coffee while working



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 02:37 PM
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originally posted by: VoidHawk

originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: VoidHawk

I edited in pictures of the two stations so you can see what I'm talking about.
Thanks. Nice pics


Definitely not a job where you can slurp your coffee while working


Hey now, you're not thinking outside of the box!




edit on 5/20/2014 by weavty1 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 02:42 PM
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Cool Post OP! Me and my daughter had the pleasure at a air in Mass. last year to sit in the boomer's position and the boomer walked us through on how he did his job.
Oh it was a KC-135.
edit on 20-5-2014 by nighthawk1954 because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 02:45 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

Bad ass article there boomer! I too read through it twice. The secret aircraft is cool and all but I gotta admit. My favorite part in the article was the f16 pilot that heard the pleas of troops in a bad situation. Immedidiatly broke connection and with out second thought dropped its external tanks and hauled ass to save the troops.

Also, I learned. Don't poke at big daddy with a stick or his little a10 sons are going to f you up.

Great article sharing it with friends. Brings a new level if respect for what you do and it deepens the honor it is to converse with you on the threads here at ats.


edit on 20-5-2014 by BASSPLYR because: (no reason given)



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 03:41 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

Every time I see the 135's bench it reminds me of a message therapists table. The AF should hire a masseuse to work on your traps while you fuel.



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 05:15 PM
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originally posted by: Sammamishman
a reply to: boomer135

Every time I see the 135's bench it reminds me of a message therapists table. The AF should hire a masseuse to work on your traps while you fuel.



That would be nice. Actually a lot of booms are starting to develop problems in there necks after many years of that position and some are having to have surgery because of it.



posted on May, 20 2014 @ 06:07 PM
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a reply to: boomer135

That surprises me about as much as the sun coming up this morning did. As much as those observer benches hurt my back after a couple hours, I can only imagine how bad it is after years.



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 01:17 AM
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Wow 40,000 hits on foxtrotalpha alone on this story in 12 hours!



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 05:46 AM
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a reply to: boomer135

I hope the boom operator was paid handsomely for it



posted on May, 21 2014 @ 08:32 AM
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a reply to: boomer135

Awesome read boomer, thank you. Being an aviation technician (mainly sheet-metal/structures mechanic)for the past 17yrs, and having actually done repairs/mods to both the KC-135's and the KC-10's, I've actually wondered about all the birds they actually fuel up and always thought these guys get to see just about every plane in the sky, way cool!! It was great working on them and I do miss it, who knows maybe this summer I'll head back to LA and do it again


edit on 21-5-2014 by believerofgod because: (no reason given)




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