As weeks of coronavirus-driven social distancing turn into months, everyone is looking for new ways to pass the time. But what to do when you just can’t stand baking yet another loaf of sourdough bread?
Never fear, MacDill Air Force Base has the answer: Learn to fly a KC-135 Stratotanker refueling aircraft.
At 10 a.m. Wednesday, Florida’s MacDill will stream on Facebook a session with KC-135 pilots Maj. Justin Kellett and Maj. Andrea May. In a Monday Facebook post that began, “Want to learn to fly?” MacDill said the pilots will “show you what it takes to fly a KC-135 and accomplish our air refueling mission.”
OK, so maybe technically, it takes a little more than a single livestream to become a tanker pilot. But MacDill’s event should provide a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at one of the Air Force’s most important missions. And, with kids across the country out of school and stuck at home, perhaps it could inspire some to become the next generation of tanker drivers.
Master Sgt. Chad Usher, a spokesman for the 6th Air Refueling Wing at MacDill, said in a phone call that the video is intended to show the basics of flying, so the community learns what goes into getting a tanker off the ground and fueling other aircraft. The pilots will demonstrate the basics of maneuvering the aircraft, he said.
And they will talk about some of the preflight steps they go through before takeoff, such as checking the exterior, Usher said. There may be a portion that shows a KC-135 simulator.
Usher said the event will be a mixture of livestreamed material and pre-recorded video. There will be a time for viewers to ask questions via the comment section, Usher said, and it is expected to run between half an hour to an hour.
If this event gets a good response, Usher said, MacDill could do more live feeds in the future going in-depth on other career fields.
MacDill has done other events to show the community the jobs its airmen do, he said. For example, the base regularly invites students with interests in engineering, aeronautics and other related subjects to fly on a KC-135.
While the coronavirus wasn’t the only thing that prompted Wednesday’s event, Usher said the base is eager to find ways to engage with the public without making too much in-person contact.
Tune in to MacDill Air Force Base’s Facebook page Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time.
Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at Military.com. He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.