Climb aboard the legendary Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker and fly in the KC-135 cockpit for an actual air to air refueling exercise! The KC-135 Stratotanker is the USAF’s main tanker aircraft allowing American forces to reach any conflict, anytime. The KC-135 Stratotanker can handle aircraft requiring "flying boom" refueling (most USAF aircraft) as well as aircraft requiring "probe-and-drogue" refueling (some US Navy, Marine and NATO aircraft). In the KC135 cockpit and in the boom operators position in the rear of the aircraft, the highly trained three man crew offers their unique perspective of what it takes to complete a successful mission. The flight departs Santiago, Chile and heads out over the South Pacific Ocean to rendezvous with a flight of Chilean F-16s. A definite must see for military fans and enthusiasts providing a rare opportunity to “fly” the Boeing KC-135!
Run time is about 90 minutes. Format is NTSC DVD and region-free.
To play video trailer, click on the Play button.
A Brief History of the US Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker
KC-135 Stratotanker was a replacement for the existing propeller-powered KC-97
tanker which was developed in 1950. The KC-97 traces its lineage back to the B-29
of WWII fame. However, the KC-97 did not
possess the speed nor the altitude capability to keep up with the increasing
number of jet bombers and fighters being developed in the 1950s. In particular,
the B-52 would have to lower its flaps and landing gear to match the slow speed
of the KC-97. So clearly, a refueling tanker that could keep up with military
jets of the era was required.
US Air Force, in the mid-1950s, invited new tanker designs from military
aircraft manufacturers. The two entries
were from Boeing and Lockheed. Boeing’s KC-135 Strato tanker was already built and flying whereas Lockheed’s 193
had yet to be built. The Air Force chose Lockheed’s design but ordered 250 of
KC135 tankers in the interim from Boeing until Lockheed’s tanker could be
built. In the end, however, the Air Force decided to cancel the Lockheed order
because they wished to standardize on one design to simplify maintenance and
refueling, the KC-135 uses a “flying boom” controlled by a boom operator near
the tail of the KC135. Most US Air Force aircraft use this method of refueling.
The operator maneuvers (“flies”) the boom to mate with a refueling receptacle
on top of the aircraft being refueled. For
US Navy, Marine and NATO aircraft using a refueling probe, the KC-135 has a pod
under each wing that provides a “probe-and-drogue” refueling capability. The flying boom on the KC135 can also be
converted to “probe-and-drogue” in order to refuel these aircraft (but not
Over the years, the fleet of KC135 Stratotankers has received multiple upgrades. The original engines were upgraded to
increase the thrust by almost 100%. In the KC-135 cockpit, the avionics were upgraded to eliminate the
navigator crew position.
Despite the upgrades, the almost 60 year old KC135 design is starting to show its age
in the form of airframe corrosion and increased maintenance costs, thus
prompting the US Air Force to consider more modern alternatives. The decision
was to gradually replace the KC-135 fleet in stages with the KC-46 design which
is based on Boeing 767 jetliner.
- Aeroclipper Video
KC-135 Stratotanker, Wikipedia,
KC-135 Stratotanker, US Air Force website,