Tankers return to refueling roots

  • Published
  • By Capt Steven Stubbs
  • 186th Air Refueling Wing
The KC-135 Stratotankers return to the 186th Air Refueling Wing commences June 10, 2013 with one aircraft arriving at Key Field where in-flight refueling was born.

"There is a real buzz on the base right now and that will spill over into the general public once they start seeing the tankers arriving," said Colonel Franklin Chalk, 186 ARW Commander. "I'm excited for the wing and the airmen stationed here."

Chalk stated that a total of eight tankers will be stationed at Key Field by the end of September and the conversion training for pilots and maintenance crews has already begun.

"We will be transitioning pilots back from the C-27 Spartan planes and the MC-12s and getting the maintenance crews up to speed on the tankers," Chalk said. "Since we lost the tankers the maintenance crews have been pretty stagnant because private firms did the maintenance on the C-27s."

When Al and Fred Key took off in their Curtis-Robbin monoplane nicknamed the "Ole Miss" on June 4, 1935, they could not have known the impact their 27-day flight would have on not only their city and state, but the entire world. The equipment and methods used by these pioneers of air refueling allowed them to remain airborne until July 1, 1935. The members of the 186th Air Refueling Wing are proud to say that Key Field Air National Guard Base is named after these two Meridian brothers whose 653 hour and 34 minute world record remains unbroken today in conventional flight.