Imagine two military aircraft “meeting less than 50 feet apart at more than 20,000 feet above the ground traveling at speeds close to 400 miles per hour while a tanker replenishes another aircraft with the fuel necessary to continue the mission.”
According to a pamphlet prepared in 2009 by the Scott Air Force Base’s Office of History Air Mobility Command, such stunning midair transactions have been occurring since Jan. 1, 1929, when the first refueling operation took place over the skies of southern California.
Yet despite nearly 90 years having passed since that momentous day, and though air-fueling has become a far more fine-tuned craft via technological improvements and experience, mistakes sometimes still happen.
And when they do, things can grow out of control very quickly. To see what I mean, play the video below:
But it would be remiss to assume that mistakes happen because of a lack of training. Known as “boom” operators, the amazing men and women in uniform responsible for performing refueling operations must undergo intense training at the Altus Air Force base in Oklahoma.
But even before trainees arrive at this hardcore school, they must first “spend one month at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, learning the basics of tanker aircraft,” according to the U.S. Air Force. “Students also spend approximately three weeks in survival school, and then spend the next four months at Altus studying, training in simulators, learning checklists and flying.”
To learn more about the life of a “boom” operator, watch the video below:
It’s a tough career choice, chockablock with difficult situations and more adrenaline that most Americans will ever experience; but also sometimes mishaps as well.
But when these errors do occur, you better believe that America’s highly trained “boom” operators will always be trained to resolve the problem.
The U.S. Air Force is the best in the world because of its advanced technology, and because of the brave airmen who make it all work. Potential enemies would do well to remember that.
What do you think about the life of “boom” operators?