Tag Archives: jonathan nigl

Report: Awesome KC-135 Tanker Crew Saves Helpless Fighter Pilot

A news release from the 22nd Air Refueling Wing spiraled into infamy as it highlighted how a KC-135 Stratotanker crew “saved” an F-16 pilot:

“The lead F-16 came up first and then had a pressure disconnect after about 500 pounds of fuel. We were expecting to offload about 2,500 pounds.”

After the F-16 disconnected a second time, the pilot went through his checklists and told the crew he had a fuel system emergency. Over 80 percent of his total fuel capability was trapped and unusable.

Since the F-16 could take some gas, he stayed with the tanker and flew back to his base along side the tanker, taking gas every 15 minutes or so.

Then he landed. And the tanker went back to his orbit. And life went on.

There are a variety of things that could go wrong to make a fighter experience “trapped fuel” or a similar fuel system malfunction. The standard thing to do when that happens is land — or, if unable to land, find a tanker, and then top-off with the tanker every few minutes on the way home.  That’s what they did.

The crew’s squadron commander put an interesting spin on it, though:  Read more