Monday, October 10, 2011

Eilson AFB and The KC-135

Our visit to Eilson AFB got us in and around this wonderful 1963-vintage KC-135. For those of you not in the know, that's a tanker based on the Boeing 707 airframe. It gives gas to other aircraft in the air.
This one's up on jacks for landing gear work. It weighs 115,000lbs empty.
Here's that bit again. Cycling the gear five times to make sure it works right.

The business end of an aerial tanker.

Or the view that one or two readers might be more familiar with:

Now THAT is an engine. The KC-135 has four, but can remain flying on JUST ONE.

The cockpit. Note the newer glass display panels. The old Flight Engineer position has been eliminated as well.
People often forget the "C" in KC-135. They haul cargo, too. Here's the cargo hold.
Always take pride in who you are and what you do.

Back in the boom control cockpit. The boom operator works these controls while lying on his stomach on a special bench or couch.
A bit more complicated than your average self-serve pump.

Looking back from out on the wing.
It was an excellent opportunity to see one of these classic workhorses up close, and my only regret was that they would not let me take it for a hop or two around the pattern.

Special thanks to the 168th Air Refueling Wing.


  1. Nice pics! They are amazing aircraft. The cockpit and boom panels look a LOT different than when I was on one!

    Props to the people that keep them flying.

  2. Yep they are good folks, we 'based' out of that hangar once or twice... :-)

  3. That's an "R motor" mod, they might still have some of the second engine type on the RC models. Also those engines are throttled back to only 80% max at Full throttle. They tend to pull the engine off at 100% power...

  4. Nice photos! I had the (ahem!) pleasure of being a flying crew chief on tankers for seven years. A couple quick corrections if you don't mind. It was developed seperately from the 707, but both were based on the 367-80. (Incidentally, Boeing's model number for the KC-135 is "717" which interestingly was reused when they developed their version of the MD-80/90 series -- which started as the Douglas DC-9 -- after purchasing McDonnel-Douglas!)

    Next, the 135 never had a Flight Engineer. (Just like the B-52 never did. The story is General Curtis Lemay didn't care for enlisted men in the cockpit!) It was the navigator position removed during the "Pacer CRAG" update in around the early 2000's.


  5. Another Mark responds...the 4 RC-135A aircraft I was assigned to from 1975-1977 at Offutt AFB, Neb, DID have a Flt Engineer position in the cockpit and we always flew with one assigned. Tail# of these aircraft were 63-8058,59,60,61 and were originally used as photomapping aircraft but we installed surplus airline seats and used them to fly MSET, Air Force Cadets, etc. around the country to different bases.