Airmen at SAFB thinking of fallen compatriots after tanker crash in Mississippi

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SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. – The crash of the military air tanker in Mississippi resonated with folks at Scott Air Force Base. The Illinois Air National Guard flies KC 135s around the world, refueling military aircraft to make sure the U.S. and other nations are safe and protected.

Colonel Jacson said, “It’s always a sad day whenever there’s a mishap in any aviation community, but for a military aircraft it always hits home, especially for those of us flying the same mission,” said Col. Tom Jackson, Operations Group Commander.

Jackson said the airmen at the 126th Air Refueling Wing are praying for and thinking about those killed and for their families in the Mississippi crash. It caused them to reflect on their own safety procedures.

“When you see a mishap of this event it does resonate with us, so we always look at our own safety processes and things we do every day to make sure we fly a safe mission and everything we do every day is safety focused,” he said.

The air guard is flying really old planes. President John F. Kennedy was in the White House when the air tankers first took flight. Every four to five years, crews inspect them, taking them apart looking for problems and replacing old parts with new. Their hard work has paid off.

“We currently hold the highest mission capable rate of all KC 135s in the entire Air Force,” Jackson said.

There are quite a few differences between the tankers at SAFB and the one that crashed in Mississippi. The ones here have jet engines, no propeller, and the design is a lot different.