Sat, May 07, 2011
Unit Assigned To Edwards To Support Flight Testing
What started out as a routine mission for Airmen from the Air
Force Reserve Command's 916th Air Refueling Wing turned into an
historic 'first in flight' moment recently.
Flying a KC-135R Stratotanker, a flight crew and a maintenance
crew from the wing's 911th Air Refueling Squadron thought they were
headed to California to support training and airlift for other
wings. But what surprised these five Airmen when they arrived at
Edwards Air Force Base was the mission they were actually given, to
be the first operational tanker crew to refuel the F-35 Lightning
II joint strike fighter.
"We were the very first aircrew allowed to refuel the F-35,
since the guidance allowing AMC crews to do so had just come out
the night before," said Capt. Robert Draper, a 911th ARS pilot.
The crew was in California to support both F-35 and F-22 Raptor
flight testing. Coincidentally, members of the 916th ARW also were
the first to refuel the F-22 a few years ago off the coast of
Along with Captain Draper, Lt. Fred Burnette, Staff Sgts. Travis
Swinson and Jonathan Wygal and Airman First Class Timothy Carter
were part of this historic mission.
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