KC-135 Flight Commentary

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NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — Overall, there are very few things that I’ve found that can truly get me animated.

Finding passion in certain things has always been something that I have struggled with. It’s not something that I find a serious issue, quite the opposite in fact. I feel with being so levelheaded; when I come across hobbies that I truly enjoy, it makes me appreciate them more.

I came into the Air Force with an open contract in Basic Training. During the fourth week, I was pulled out of my flight and taken to a random building and was told to do a typing test. Once I was done, I asked the civilian contractor that administered the test why I was there and he said that it was for my job as a photojournalist.

I’ll be honest, once he said that, I immediately felt a sense of excitement run through me that I hadn’t felt in years and thought, “wait, that’s a real job?”. Two, I felt a sense of excitement run through me that I hadn’t felt in years.

With that excitement intact, I graduated basic training, move to technical school where I learned about my career, and then I move to my first duty station, Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada. I’ve been here for a little over six months and I can honestly say that the assignments I am tasked with have given me the most excitement I have ever felt in my 24 years of life and last week I was able to feel it again.

Last week, I was able to go on a KC-135 Stratotanker during the Weapons Schools Deliberate Strike Night for a photography assignment.

Now I fully realize that this in itself is a pretty special thing, since a good number of Airmen in the Air Force haven’t been allowed on an airframe of any kind at all.

Being in the plane was pretty amazing to begin with, and as a photographer it was like being a fat kid in a candy store with a blank check.
After about 45 minutes of preparation time, we were ready to take off. Now at that point I figured I better strap myself in, so I went to the back and sat down on the seats lining the plane wall. The boom operator came around and looked at me with the weirdest expression on his face, to basically say with it “what are you doing?”

He looked at me and stated that I would be sitting up front in the jump-seat, and to be honest I had heard them say this a number of times, but I had no idea what it meant so I was winging it. Basically the “jump-seat” is dead center in the cockpit a little behind the pilot and co-pilots seats but directly between them.

This is where I got a bit more excited, I mean of all the people in the world how many get to watch a plane take off and actually see out the front? When you think about it they’re few and far between.

To add to my excitement, we taxi down the runway and two B-1 Lancers and two B-2 Spirits are scheduled to take off maybe 50 feet from where I was sitting. So naturally, I immediately picked up my camera and started taking pictures.

Once the KC-135 took off, and I was just sitting in the jump-seat with the headset on listening to how the crew interacted. I also started playing a game with myself to see if I could understand what they were talking about. Ultimately, I lost but it was entertaining to try.

All of a sudden I get a tap on the shoulder, and the boom operator waves at me to follow him. As I walk to the end of the Stratotanker and get into the boom tube I realized just how cold I was, which was bitter sweet considering how hot Nellis AFB is, it was welcomed.

Although as soon as I look out the small window and saw an F-22 pull up I didn’t much care how cold I was. Even with there not being much room in the boom tube I was ecstatic to just be able to have the opportunity that was in front of me.

Once again I had that feeling of excitement. Of all the people in the world how many get to watch a plane get refueled from the boom tube itself? When you think about it again they’re few and far between.

Throughout the night as the Stratotanker continued to refuel fighters, I stayed at the same high-level of excitement throughout the night.

To bring this description of the night to an end, this is what I want to strive for for the remainder of my career. To not only do a job and be great at doing it, but also to feel that excitement whilst doing my job.

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