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171st History: KC-135s Permanently Assigned to 171st

  • Published
  • By Clara Gourley
Forty-five years ago, eight KC-135 Stratotanker aircraft were permanently assigned to the 171st Air Refueling Wing. In 1976, the 171st converted from Tactical Air Command to a Strategic Air Command and would soon be equipped with the KC-135 instead of the older KC-97 Stratofreighter aircraft. Two mobile KC-135 aircrew simulators were moved onto railroad cars that were transported to Neville Island, allowing aircrews to become certified. In June of 1977, the first KC-135 arrived and in only six months, eight aircrews were trained and mission ready. By the time all the aircraft had arrived, eleven aircrews had undergone extensive training and were reported combat-ready. By 1979, the 171st had transformed to fully understand the purpose and mission of these large aircraft. In the present day, the number of KC-135s assigned to the base has doubled to sixteen aircraft.