Flying in a giant gas tank: The 434th ARW at Grissom ARB

Refueling mid-air from a KC-135RA few weeks ago, I was invited to participate in a special social media event with Hoosier PRSA and Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana. Yesterday, we went up in a KC-135R Stratotanker on a mission to refuel several C-17s along the Appalachian Mountains (WV, VA, NC, SC, & GA). We had the opportunity to lay down in the pit with the boom operator and sit in the cockpit with the pilots. It was an amazing experience! I’ll let the pictures and videos speak for themselves (see the Roll Call at the bottom of this post for links).

Fun facts I learned about Grissom Air Reserve Base and the 434th Air Refueling Wing:

  • Grissom is an alternate landing site for the space shuttle.
  • There are no parachutes aboard a KC-135; it’s actually safer to go down with the bird!
  • The KC-135s were built from 1957-1965 and are expected to run for another 40-50 years!
  • A KC-135 is essentially the same frame as a Boeing 707.
  • The KC-135 can reach speeds of 600 mph and can travel about 5,000 miles.
  • With 16 KC-135s, the 434th ARW at Grissom is the largest air refueling wing in the Air Force Reserves.
  • The 434th ARW averages six refueling missions daily, so don’t be surprised if you don’t see many KC-135s on the ground at base.
  • Grissom puts about $100 million annually into the local economy, which is huge for a rural area of Indiana!
  • Grissom has a major global impact, too. In addition to providing aerial refueling to the nation’s defense aircraft, reservists from Grissom are currently deployed around the world, including Iraq and Afghanistan.
  • Grissom was an Air Force Base until 1994 when a realignment changed it to a Reserve base, but it is still alive and well!
  • The base, originally Bunker Hill Naval Air Station, has been around since WWII.

Roll call:

MobileMe Gallery (all photos and videos):
Facebook Album:
Facebook Video:
YouTube Video:

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7 thoughts on “Flying in a giant gas tank: The 434th ARW at Grissom ARB

  1. gusboomer08 says:

    tankers were actually built from 1955 to 64. glad you had a good experience at grissom

  2. 434ARW/PA says:

    The first KC-135 for the Air Force flew in August 1956 and the initial production Stratotanker was delivered to Castle Air Force Base, Calif., in June 1957. The last KC-135 was delivered to the Air Force in 1965.

    Thanks for the excellent post Cass! We were glad to have you with us!

  3. […] week, I had an incredible opportunity to participate in a KC-135 aerial refueling flight mission out of Grissom Air Reserve Base in Indiana. First of all, you’re probably asking how in the […]

  4. Cassie Dull says:

    Thanks for the clarification! You guys definitely know your KC-135 history better than I do!

  5. […] Check out my first post on edSocialMedia – One Tool to Tell a Dynamic Story. It’s about how I used nothing but my iPhone to capture a once-in-a-lifetime experience aboard a KC-135 aerial refueling flight mission (read about the flight on my personal blog). […]

  6. jt says:

    In the early 70’s I was assigned to a KC-135 tanker. I have a question about this aircraft. When we were taken on a fam flight in this a/c we were given safety
    instructions and one of them was about exiting the a/c during flight. There were parachutes on board as we were told this a/c went anywhere in the world. My question is this we were told that before jumping out of the a/c there was a large piece of wood that had to be thrown out of the a/c first or a wing or something would kill you. Is there anyone out there that is aware of why this wood had to be thrown out first? Please no dumb answers if you don’t know don’t answer.

  7. […] the year for activities in each command post. The one I’m looking forward to the most is the KC-135 refueling flight. I already had the chance to do this in August 2010, but it was such an exhilarating experience to […]

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