Airman Compares Aerial Refueling To A Video Game
"It's more like trying
to knock a melon off a post by pushing a 20-foot pole through a
chain-link fence on a windy day." Senior Airman Jered Danielson
compared operating the boom at nearly five miles above Iraq to a
video game, but there's more to it than just playing a game.
Airman Danielson, a 340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron
in-flight refueling journeyman, said passing fuel from the KC-135R
Stratotanker to a receiver can be a daunting task.
"(It's a challenge) having to know thousands of various
procedures, facts and details about the KC-135, its systems,
operations, limitations, air refueling and emergency procedures,
and other technical details," he said. "You have to be sure to stay
in the regulations and technical orders, studying them so you know
your job inside and out."
Airman Danielson, who is more commonly known as a boom operator,
said his job helps other people complete their mission throughout
US Central Command Air Forces area of responsibility.
"Nothing happens in the AOR unless a tanker is there to give
gas," he said. "Tankers extend the capability and range of all the
aircraft we refuel. We fly hundreds of hours each week to ensure
our forces get their gas."
When Airman Danielson (shown below) is not refueling
aircraft, he's sitting in a seat on the flight deck filling out
paperwork and "backing up the pilots on things like altitude, ATC
The Airman, who is deployed from the 911th Air Refueling
Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base, ND helps ensure the pilots
are able to focus on their mission.
"The boom operator is an invaluable crew member that ensures the
safe operation of the KC-135. The boom offers a third set of eyes,
and, as a qualified crew member, has as much responsibility in
ensuring the safe completion of a mission as the two pilots," said
Maj. Dan Malles, a 340th EARS flying crew member.
"(He) is our eyes in the back of the aircraft. (He tells) us
where the receiver is and the receiver's position when refueling,
as well as whether an unsafe situation is developing," Major Malles
It was the final fuel stop of the seven-hour sortie for the
Airman Danielson crawls into the boom pod and lies flat on his
stomach. He moves the chin rest to prop up his head and readies for
his next move.
The 21-year-old senior airman moves a knob here, a lever there
and works the control panel, slowly lowering and raising the boom
into position. Then, he waits for his receiver.
On this particular day, Airman Danielson refueled seven F-16
Fighting Falcons from Cannon AFB, N.M., that are deployed to
Southwest Asia. These fighters are only a few of the hundreds of
aircraft the Bisbee, Ariz., native has kept flying during his three
As Airmen Danielson topped off the tank, the Falcon pilot came
across the radio, "Thanks for all your work, and have a nice
The Airman won the video game. He successfully knocked the melon
off the post, yet again.
(Aero-News salutes Staff Sgt. Francesca Popp, US Central
Command Air Forces News Team)