Old video shows near midair collision involving Oklahoma refueling tanker

A video uploaded to YouTube shows a near midair collision between a NATO AWACS aircraft and KC-135 Stratotanker based at Tinker Air Force Base. The incident occurred several years ago, an Air Force spokesman said.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: October 26, 2012 at 9:52 pm •  Published: October 27, 2012

A video posted to YouTube this week shows a near midair collision between a KC-135 refueling tanker stationed at Tinker Air Force Base and a NATO AWACS aircraft.

The incident happened several years ago.

One of the planes involved was a refueling jet operated by the 507th and 137th Air Refueling Wings at Tinker Air Force Base. The 507th is an Air Force Reserve wing stationed at Tinker alongside the 137th, an Oklahoma Air National Guard unit.

The two wings jointly operate KC-135 Stratotankers, the Air Force's standard refueling tanker.

Capt. Jon Quinlan, a spokesman for the 507th Air Refueling Wing, said no one onboard the KC-135 was injured in the incident, which happened several years ago. He said he was not sure if anyone on the E-3 was injured.

The video, shot from the perspective of the KC-135's boom operator, shows the NATO E-3 approach the tanker's boom in an attempt to refuel.

The attempt fails as the E-3 moves too far to the side of the tanker.

The E-3 then pitches up, nearly colliding with the tail of the KC-135 before both planes make evasive maneuvers to avoid the collision.

The video was posted on several aviation websites this week after it was uploaded to YouTube.

“The KC-135 aircrew followed all appropriate procedures, however, this video does illustrate that in spite of conducting air refueling operations for more than 80 years, it is still a very challenging procedure,” Quinlan said.


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