Gallery: Eileson's KC-135 Stratotanker

Craig Medred

While this weekend’s immensely popular Arctic Thunder air show will feature an assortment crazy-fast and crazy-nimble aircraft from the Lower 48, let’s not overlook the Alaska Air National Guard’s KC-135 Stratotanker that can offer sweet fuel to the flyboys.

While not the fastest plane in the air, the KC-135 from Eielson Air Force Base near Fairbanks offers some eye-popping statistics as part of its mission to support Pacific Air Forces missions as a member of the 168th Air Refueling Wing.

• Despite weighing more than 160 tons at takeoff, the KC-135 Stratotanker manages to get airborne. Every single time.

• Depending on how its storage is configured, the KC-135 can carry 83,000 pounds of cargo.

• Nearly all fuel transfers go through its flying boom, with just one crew member, the boom operator, controlling the action from the aft of the plane.  

• Some aircraft have been configured with a multipoint refueling system, consisting of special pods mounted on the wingtips. These KC-135s are capable of refueling two aircraft simultaneously.

Read the Arctic Thunder preview here.