One of the toughest things about covering the military is coming to terms with the fact that some of the best stories might not see the light of day for weeks, months, or even years. This tale, about a KC-135 Stratotanker sticking its neck out to help a stricken F-16 Fighting Falcon, is one such story. While it all happened in 2015, details have just started creeping out after a story on the McConnell Air Force Base blog.
The incident occurred during Operation Inherent Resolve. The KC-135, based out of McConnell, was in town supporting a flight of A-10 Warthogs when it was approached by an F-16 that needed to brim its tanks. The KC-135's pilot, Capt. Nathanial Beer, told the McConnell blog his team was "expecting to offload about 2,500 pounds" of fuel, but the fighter made a "pressure disconnect" after sucking up just 500 pounds of gas. He tried reconnecting a second time and encountered a similar problem, only to discover that over 80 percent of his plane's fuel capacity was inaccessible.
So, instead of punching out over hostile, ISIS-controlled territory, the KC-135 crew decided it'd be better to simply escort the fighter back to base... while refueling it every 15 minutes. It's a darn cool story, and one that's worth a look. Head over to the McConnell AFB blog for a more complete account, with comments from Capt. Beer.