93rd ARS: Refueling the fight for 70 years

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Taylor Bourgeous
  • 92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
For nearly 70 years the 93rd Air Refueling Squadron has fueled the fight and since its arrival at Fairchild, it fuels freedom on the wings of the KC-135 Stratotanker.

"It's a privilege to be a member of the 93rd and help carry on its inherent tradition of excellence and legacy," said 1st Lt. Meagan Wyngarden, a 93rd ARS pilot. "Fueling the flight with a very close knit and passionate group of people makes my job a blast every day."

The 93rd ARS was first activated in 1949 at Castle Air Force Base, California, with the KB-29P Super fortress tankers, transferring to the KC-97 Stratofreighter in 1954.

"The KC-97 was marked by slow speeds that made refueling jet aircraft difficult," said Lt. Col. Nate Vogel, the 93rd ARS commander. "After just three years the 93rd ARS changed airframes again to the KC-135 Stratotanker."

Vogel said in 1957 the 93rd ARS received the first Boeing KC-135 delivered to the Air Force.

The KC-135 can hold up to 200,000 pounds of fuel, nearly all of which can be pumped through the flying boom, the KC-135's primary fuel transfer method. The air refueling pumps are incredibly powerful; with all four operating they can offload 6,500 pounds of fuel per minute; to put that into perspective, it would fill up the gas tank in an average sized automobile in approximately one second.

The aircraft is operated by two pilots and one boom operator. The boom operator is stationed in the rear of the plane during in-flight air refueling and controls the boom, manually flying it into contact with receiver aircraft.

"Fairchild is quickly becoming the center of excellence for KC-135 operations, and the 93rd ARS is a showcase squadron in that endeavor," said Vogel.

In April 1958, less than one year after receiving its first KC-135, two squadron aircrews set a new distance record when they flew non-stop from Tokyo to the Azores, spanning more than 10,000 miles in less than 19 hours. The 93rd ARS continued operations as a training squadron at Castle AFB, California, until 1995.

Following Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield, the U.S. military saw an increasing need for more in-flight refuelers. So in 1995, the 93rd ARS was reactivated at Fairchild AFB where it has served with the 92nd Air Refueling Wing providing responsive, precise air refueling and operational support for the full range of military operations.

"We deliver precise refueling anywhere, anytime, across the full spectrum of military missions," said Capt. Timothy Black, 93rd ARS executive officer.

In 2014, Fairchild's KC-135s flew nearly 435 missions with crews deploying every few weeks. The 93rd ARS participated in the final tanker mission supporting Operation Enduring Freedom, ending one of the longest conflicts the U.S. has ever seen, lasting more than 13 years. Today, Fairchild's KC-135s continue fueling freedom at home and around the world.

"Air refueling is the capability that enables the United States to project power globally within hours," Black said. "At its most basic level, it allows receiver aircraft to stay airborne indefinitely and facilitates a myriad of different missions including building an air bridge, rapidly delivering troops and supplies, and support of strategic assets used to deter potential adversaries."