Holloman Airmen and spouses embark on tanker incentive flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Nicholas Paczkowski
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Spouses and Airmen from around Holloman AFB got to fly on a KC-135 Stratotanker incentive flight here, Nov. 15.
The flight was coordinated between the 49th Wing, 121st Air Refueling Wing at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Columbus, Ohio, and the families of pilots with the goal of boosting morale of the Airmen, Guardians,and their spouses. 
Incentive flights like this are also used to show spouses what their partners are doing and give them insight on how they help with the 49th Wing’s mission
Incentive flights are good for military spouses as they take time out of their days to be involved in the community and for days, weeks, and months on end they may have to hold down the fort at home while their partner is away.
“It’s an exciting experience because you hear about these things all day long, but it’s different when you get to witness it 10 feet from your face,” said Emily Sanford, 314th Fighter Squadron spouse. “Also seeing the pilot and the boom operator working together and also getting the opportunity to see your spouse from 10 feet away [in the air] is amazing.”
The KC-135 came all the way to Holloman to provide in-flight refueling training from Nov. 15 to Nov. 17. During those days the KC-135 also provided incentive flights for spouses and Airmen.
“The refueler was coming out to support training for our students,” said Maj. Mark Marshall, 314th FS assistant director of ops. “Also with the refueler being here, it gave us an opportunity for spouses and Airmen to actually be up in the air and see an F-16 get refueled, but we also hope they see it as the Air Force appreciates them.”
U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Kirby Sanford, 314th Fighter Squadron commander, was able to see his brother-in-law, U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Art Bull, 121st ARW KC-135 pilot, in this coincidental opportunity of the Air Force bringing together the two family members for the same mission.
Bull was also able to receive an incentive flight in an F-16 while it was being refueled by the KC-135 during his temporary duty at Holloman. It wasn’t just him that got to fly, though, with other personnel from the KC-135 also earning a flight in an F-16 as an appreciation for allowing Airmen and spouses to fly in the refueler.
“We had talked about this for a while, trying to get an opportunity for the spouses to get up in the air and see what happens up there,” said Bull. “It all started with me and my brother-in-law, you know with me being at Rickenbacker and him being here at the 314th FS, it seemed like an easy way to coordinate, especially with that personal connection.”
The training and incentive flights that the KC-135 was able to provide helps to boost morale and also build combat ready aircrew.