March Air Reserve Base Air Refueling Tanker Flight
Story and photos by Steve Lewis
March Air Reserve Base held its biannual airshow, dubbed the ’So Cal Air Show’, over the weekend of April 22-23, 2023. The day prior to the event, members of the media were treated to special media flights aboard multiple aircraft from the base. The majority went aboard a C-17 Globemaster III, while a smaller group boarded one of the 452nd Air Mobility Wing’s KC-135 Stratotankers.
After a thorough safety briefing and a breakdown of what was to be expected during the flight, we boarded the aircraft and set out for a refueling track off the coast near Central California. Unfortunately, the C-17 that we were supposed to refuel had some issues prior to takeoff and was late getting to the track. However, the C-17 was still able to catch up and hang out behind our tanker to give everybody on board both aircraft some good views of the other aircraft.
Ultimately, we could’ve hooked up to the C-17, but we had another engagement with some fighters over the desert. Once we reached the desert, our other ‘customers’ came up to get some gas. They were two F-15C Eagles from the 144th Fighter Wing, which is based out of Fresno, California. Unfortunately, the location in which we were refueling them prevented us from taking photos due to the military area below them. Luckily for us though, it had been pre-coordinated to have the fighters trail us all the way back into March Air Force Base.
Along the way, everyone on board was treated to views of the Eagles off our wings as well as multiple times hooking up for gas, and even a couple of break aways behind us. One of the two F-15s has a special paint job commemorating 10,000 flight hours of the F-15C with the Fresno Air National Guard. We landed a couple hours later and then were able to go and see the fighters up close on the ground.
It was a great day for everyone onboard all the aircraft involved. I’d like to thank the tanker crew of our KC-135, the crew of the C-17, both F-15 pilots, and the 452nd Wing’s Public Affairs Office for all the coordination to make this possible. Look for an article in the near future, covering the rest of the airshow weekend.