Eighteen Civil Air Patrol (CAP) Cadets were invited by the 927th Air Refueling Wing to fly with them on an orientation flight during air refueling exercises. The 927th is an Air Force Reserve unit that is stationed at MacDill Air Force Base and is tasked in air refueling. Saturday’s mission was for two KC135 Stratotankers to refuel six A10 Warthogs.
Before the flight, the cadets were briefed by Col. Douglas Stouffer, the 927th Wing Commander; Col. Mike Greiger, a pilot who is a former CAP cadet and who organized the mission; and Capt. Tyler Gross, who is responsible for command of the maintenance of the KC135s.
Col. Stouffer gave a history of the KC135 aircraft and of the 927th Air Refueling Wing. He briefed the cadets on this mission and air refueling missions in general.
Col. Greiger talked about career opportunities in the Air Force, including opportunities for becoming a pilot. He explained how Civil Air Patrol helped him prepare for a career in the military and briefly discussed his experiences as an F-16 fighter pilot. He was one of the F-16 pilots responsible for escorting Air Force One after the events of 9-11 and he conducted combat missions in Iraq.
Capt. Gross discussed the importance of aircraft maintenance and discussed opportunities for military careers in all branches of service.
The cadets were invited to ask Col. Stouffer, Col. Greiger and Capt. Gross any questions the cadets had and engaged in discussions with them.
The cadets were equally divided and boarded two KC135s. Cadets enjoyed access to the cockpit during takeoff, landing and while in flight. They were able to observe the refueling booms with some cadets having the opportunity to “fly” the boom.
After landing back at MacDill, the cadets were debriefed giving their thoughts of the refueling missions as well as other activities that could be incorporated into future missions. Col. Greiger indicated that the Wing hopes to conduct additional KC135 orientation flights for the cadets.
Civil Air Patrol, the longtime all-volunteer U.S. Air Force auxiliary, is the newest member of the Air Force’s Total Force. In this role, CAP operates a fleet of 560 aircraft, performs about 90 percent of continental U.S. inland search and rescue missions as tasked by the Air Force Rescue Coordination Center and is credited by the AFRCC with saving an average of 80 lives annually. CAP’s 57,000 members also perform homeland security, disaster relief and drug interdiction missions at the request of federal, state and local agencies. CAP also plays a leading role in aerospace/STEM education, and its members serve as mentors to 24,000 young people participating in CAP’s Cadet Programs. Visit www.GoCivilAirPatrol.com for more information.