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Happy Birthday Aerial Refueling

By Scott Roe and Will White

The below Fun Facts were provided by Scott Roe, our JBMDL Site Lead and a retired KC-10 pilot on the occasion of the 96th Birthdays of Air Refueling. So how did it all start?

On October 5th, 1922, Lieutenants John A. Macready and Oakley G. Kelly set a world endurance record of 35 hours, 18 minutes, 30 seconds in their Fokker T-2 airplane over San Diego, Calif., for which they received the Mackay Trophy. Had they not run low on gasoline, they could have remained in the air until personal fatigue or mechanical difficulty with the T-2 forced them to land.

To eliminate the fuel limitation problem, the fliers at Rockwell Field, San Diego, developed a system for mid-air refueling between DH-4B airplanes. The first successful aerial refueling took place on June 27, 1923, when a DH-4B carrying Lieutenants Virgil Hine and Frank W. Seifert passed gasoline through a hose to another DH-4B flying beneath it carrying Lieutenants Lowell H. Smith and John P. Richter.

The next day another refueling flight was made in an attempt to break the world record set by Macready and Kelly in the T-2 on October 5th, 1922. Unfortunately, a gasoline valve in the receiver airplane became plugged, and Smith had to make a forced landing in some mud flats near North Island after almost a full day in the air. The airplane flipped onto its back on landing, and its propeller was cracked.

Two months later on August 27th-28th, 1923, Smith and Richter made an endurance flight which lasted 37 hours, 15 minutes, with 16 refueling contacts. During this flight, they set 16 new world records for distance, speed and duration. On October 25th, 1923, Smith and Richter flew nonstop from the Canadian to the Mexican border, a distance of 1,250 miles, by being refueled three times while in the air. The theory of extending the range of an airplane by mid-air refueling became a demonstrated fact.

Now on to the boring program stuff……

The Pinnacle Solutions KC-10 Training System Program Management Review (PMR) #6 was held on 11 – 12 June 2019 at the Training System Support Center (TSSC) in Fairfield, California.

Bill Nichols, our KC-10 TS Program Manager, began the briefing by welcoming everyone and highlighting the PMR meeting agenda. The government KC-10 program office representatives from Wright-Patterson AFB and Scott AFB were in attendance along with Pinnacle employees Will White, Christina Chambliss,

Erich Erker, Brian McCarthy, Scott Roe, and Mark Raymond

The KC-10 TS program was initially awarded in December 2016 and was, at that time, the largest contract Pinnacle won in the history of the company. The training systems managed by Pinnacle under this contract include 2 – air refueling Boom Operator Trainer’s (BOT), 1 – Cargo Load Trainer (CLT), 2 – Maintenance Landing Gear Trainers (MLGT), 2 – Engine Maintenance Trainers (EMT), 2 – Flight Training Devices (FTD) and 4 – Weapon Systems Trainer’s (WST) at three different locations on the East and West Coast.



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