News: McConnell airman first class supports combat air refueling missions as KC-135 boom operator
Story by Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol
SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. - Airman 1st Class Sam Johnson is a KC-135 Stratotanker in-flight refueling journeyman, or boom operator, deployed with the 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron, 379th Air Expeditionary Wing, at a non-disclosed base in Southwest Asia.
Johnson is deployed from Air Mobility Command's 384th Air Refueling Squadron, 22nd Air Refueling Wing, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. According to the McConnell base Web site, the 22nd ARW provides all-weather, in-flight, aerial refueling for U.S. and allied military aircraft and airlift for Global Reach projection of troops, equipment and supplies worldwide.
According to the official Air Force job description for an in-flight refueling journeyman, airmen like Johnson are trained to perform in-flight refueling aircrew functions and activities according to flight manuals, checklists and Unites States Air Force publications.
As part of aircrew duties, boom operators like Johnson are trained to check forms for equipment status, performs visual and operational check of air refueling and associated systems and equipment, and perform pre-flight, through-flight and post-flight inspections. They also accomplish preflight and post-flight records and reports and perform in-flight operational check of air refueling systems.
When performing the air refueling mission, the job description states that boom operators direct receiver aircraft into air refueling position and operate in-flight air refueling controls and switches to safely affect contact between tanker and receiver aircraft. They monitor the control panel for proper operation of equipment during air refueling and advise the receiver pilot of actions required to safely maintain position within the air-refueling envelope. Boom operators also keep the tanker pilot informed as to progress of air refueling operations and can perform emergency operations and procedures as required for emergency off-load and on-load of fuel.
To track the amount of fuel on board a tanker, in-flight refueling airmen like Johnson compute and apply weight and balance data, procedures and techniques, the job description states. They determine fuel, personnel, cargo and emergency and special equipment weight and distribution to compute aircraft weight and balance and they prepare and verify load plans, direct cargo loading and unloading operations and inspect aircraft load to ensure hazardous cargo compliance and weight and balance status of aircraft.
To do their job both from home station and while deployed, boom operators have to maintain mandatory job knowledge in numerous areas, the job description shows. They have to know electrical and mechanical principles applying to aircraft and related systems, flight theory, and aircraft electrical, hydraulic and pneumatic systems applying to in-flight refueling system.
They also have to know normal and emergency operation of aircraft refueling systems, flying directives, weight and balance factors, cargo tie-down techniques, minor in-flight maintenance, usage of personal equipment and oxygen, communication and aircraft emergency procedures and using and interpreting diagrams, loading charts, technical publications and flight manuals.
According to its wing Web site, the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing is one of the "largest, most diverse expeditionary wings" in the Air Force, providing combat airpower and support for operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The wing and its associate units operate more than 100 aircraft, making the base a large hub for humanitarian airlift activity while providing mission-essential combat power, aeromedical evacuation and intelligence support for three theaters of operations.
This work, McConnell airman first class supports combat air refueling missions as KC-135 boom operator, by MSgt Scott Sturkol, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.