Photorecon Flies with Pennsylvania ANG at Red Flag 11-2
On January 28, 2011, Photorecon was invited to fly with the 147th Air Refueling Squadron in support of Red Flag 11-2. Our mission was to refuel 5 F-16 aggressors that were participating in the exercise.
We would be flying in a KC-135 from the 134th Air Refueling Wing of the Tennessee Air National Guard. The crew flying this KC-135 would be from the 147th Air Refueling Squadron (of the 171st Air Refueling Wing) from Pennsylvania Air National Guard. At the controls were Pilot Major Janet Lynn Van Dyke and Co-Pilot Lieutenant Colonel Rick May. The boom operator (“boomer”) for today’s mission was Senior Master Sergeant Ken Teyssier. Our call sign today – GULF 31.
Also on board were Public Affairs Airman’s First Class Cynthia Haughton and Whitney Jackson who would serve as our escorts for the flight.
Major Van Dyke started the engines at 1039 hours and GULF 31 airborne at 1109. It took approximately 30 minutes to get on station. Once on station, Major Van Dyke flew at 20,000 feet and in a race track pattern of 20 miles by 10 miles.
At 1152 hours, 4 F-16s from the 64th Aggressor Squadron based at Nellis formed up on the rear left side of our aircraft to begin their refueling cycle. One by one, each F-16 slid from the left side of the aircraft to underneath the boom. Once under GULF 31, Senior Master Sergeant Teyssier would direct the receiving aircraft to the boom. After receiving their fuel, each aircraft would back off the boom and form up on the rear right side of the KC-135. By 1215, the flight of F-16s had finished “tanking” and departed. Our next refueling wouldn’t be until 1315 when we were scheduled to refuel a single F-16.
To our surprise at 1316 hours, a 2 ship formation of F-16s arrived. One F-16 was from the 64th Aggressor Squadron and the other was from the Minnesota Air National Guard’s 148th Fighter Wing. After both F-16s refueled, they backed away from the refueling boom, “posed” for a few formation pictures, and then departed.
With our mission complete, Major Van Dyke began the return flight back to Nellis. On the flight back, an unknown aircraft declared an in flight emergency which caused the closure of one Nellis’ runways. This caused us to orbit for an extra 20 minutes before we were cleared to land.
During our 3 hour flight, GULF 31 refueled 6 F-16s and transferred approximately 30,000 pounds of fuel (approximately 5,000 pounds to each fighter).
I would like to express my thanks and gratitude to the crew of GULF 31 – Pilot Major Janet Lynn Van Dyke, Co-Pilot Lieutenant Colonel Rick May, and Boom Operator Senior Master Sergeant Ken Teyssier. They did an outstanding job during this mission and were more than accommodating to the photographers onboard. It was Photorecon’s honor to fly with the crew of GULF 31.
Photorecon would like to offer a special thanks to Public Affair’s Senior Airman Michael Charles who was instrumental in making this air to air opportunity possible. An additional thanks goes out to our escorts for the flight, Airmen’s First Class Cynthia Haughton Virginia and Whitney Jackson.
Lastly, a special thanks to Richard VanderMeulen. For those of you who do not know, Richard VanderMeulen is a world class aviation photographer who has photographed more aircraft than anyone I know. Simply Google his name and you will see his accomplishments – incredible aviation photos, published articles, and other works. Richard was the second photographer on board and went above and beyond in helping me before, during, and after the flight. He was instrumental on my success during this air to air refueling flight.