RAF Mildenhall Base Tour : Tuesday 30th April 2019

Report and Photographs by Doug MacDonald

Fifteen members of The Suffolk Military Aviation Society and East Anglian Military Overflights & Movements Facebook page members were allowed on the base to view a Boeing KC-135R Stratotanker as well as meet and talk to crew members and maintenance staff for these old aircraft.

The group met near to Angel’s Cafe in Chiswick Avenue, Mildenhall and once on board the coach, headed off to the main gate of the base. Upon our arrival, we were met by members of the public affairs office and staff from the Air Force itself. The usual security checks were made on both those persons attending as well as the vehicle and then we were off to the south side of the base in convey with two other coachloads full of other enthusiasts. However, prior to leaving the security area, the rules and regulations of the trip were given, to which we had to adhere to.
The trip around the north, west and south side of the base allowed a closer look at the certain aircraft hardstands (85-0029 and 87-0117 KC-10s of 60th AMW north side), the AMC and CV-22B’s ramp which were both empty, SOG Row (with six based MC-130J’s visible) and of course, the 100th ARW Boeing KC-135’s that were dotted around on the south side.

We finally arrived at a car park on the Southside, where we were to board a base coach and get transported onto the flight line. We were then taken to Hardstand 31 where 58-0113 “All American Girl” was waiting for us. It was parked next to 59-1513, “Wolff Pack” on Hs 30 and 60-0344, “Homesick Angel” on Hs 28.
The aircraft was open for us to board and look around inside and there were USAF personnel standing around the aircraft for us to engage in conversation.

Personally, I started to talk to a young lady (name withheld), who I ascertained was a pilot of the KC-135, 58-0113. It was great to learn that the ageing aircraft (100th ARW have fifteen aircraft built between 1957 and 1963) was a great aircraft to fly “hands-on” as even though it had been upgraded with a lot of technology, the instruments were still the original design and thus made flying these aircraft “interesting”, especially when refuelling receivers. The autopilot can be used for this, but it appears, is not as stable as actually flying the aircraft.
It was great to hear that not one person is assigned to a particular aircraft and that all pilots get to fly all the tankers in their fleet. The pilot I spoke to was very proud to be flying with the 100th ARW because of its heritage and location. She particularly liked the fact that there was nose art on the aircraft as it “meant something special to commemorate those brave men from 100th Bomber Group”.
During the visit I spoke to two pilots who were both kind enough to explain to me what a day of a mission consists of prior to the actual flight. They generally arrive three hours before scheduled departure time, to plan their flight, check the weather for the route and designated refuelling area as well as adjust to any change to what was originally planned. They also check the paperwork on the particular aircraft for that day. When all this and other non-publishable procedures are completed, they head out to their aircraft to visually check it and get it ready for its flight.

Having spent a long time talking to the female pilot, I walked around 58-0013 taking photos and chatting to other personnel present before I actually boarded the “All American Girl”.

Inside the KC-135R was no comfort for the crew, just the basics with wires and pipes visible along the roof of the fuselage and various types of equipment and fold away seats along each side. The floor was fitted with cargo holding latches where straps can be secured to hold pallets or boxes in place.

To the rear of the aircraft was a large tank, with spaces either side. These led to the boom operator’s position, which was cramped to say the least. It consisted of a place for the operator to lie down & rest his or her chin on a premade rest. In front of this was a control panel which had not only the controls for the boom itself, but also a lot of dials and switches to control the fuel being passed to the receivers and from which of the wing or fuselage tanks it comes from, trying to keep the balance of the aircraft and the centre of gravity correct. Then of course in front of all the boom operators equipment and operating station is a small window where he or she, can look out and see the boom and guide it down to the receiving aircraft.

Speaking to a boom operator, it transpired that when at fuel tanks are filled to capacity that is enough fuel there to run a car for approximately 46 years. Refuelling can take anywhere from up to a few minutes to almost an hour, depending on the aircraft being refuelled and how much fuel it requires.

Walking back to the front of the aircraft and into the cockpit, again it was obvious that comfort for the pilots is not a priority as the seats looked very small and not at all fitted for a long flight. Yes there were built in cushions but they were not very wide and it was confirmed to me that sitting there for about an hour does cause problems, so crew do get up and walk around whilst the other remains in control.
The cockpit, as you would imagine has instruments to the top, both sides and front of the crew positions, but you had to bear in mind that the aircraft we were in was sixty-one years old as there were more than are found in today’s modern aircraft. No wonder the female pilot stated she loved to fly the KC-135 “hands-on”.

The longest flight that the 100th ARW do every so often is eighteen hours which is down to Africa to refuel French aircraft on station, but that is usually with two crews due to the permitted hour’s pilots are allowed to do.

It was not long after entering the cockpit, that time had run out and we were required to return to the base coach to take us back to our own coaches and to leave.

All in all a very enjoyable few hours with the 100th Air Refuelling Wing, to whom I would like to extend my gratitude for making this visit possible.

Aircraft that were noted during our trip.


09-5713 Lockheed MC-130J Hercules 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK      
10-5714 Lockheed MC-130J Hercules 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK      
11-0060 Boeing CV-22B Osprey 7th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK KNIFE 71 Dep 1343
11-5737 Lockheed MC-130J Hercules 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK    
12-5757 Lockheed MC-130J Hercules 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK STRIX 46 Dep 0927
12-5760 Lockheed MC-130J Hercules 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK STRIX 36 Dep 0922
13-5778 Lockheed MC-130J Hercules 67th SOS, RAF Mildenhall. UK      
57-1440 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
57-1474 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
57-1493 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
57-2605 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK QID 01 Dep 1055
58-0100 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
58-0113 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
59-1513 Boeing KC-135T 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
60-0324 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
60-0344 Boeing KC-135T 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
60-0355 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK      
61-0288 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK QID 22 Dep 1225
62-3551 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK QID 285 Arr 1253
63-7999 Boeing KC-135R 100th ARW, RAF Mildenhal. UK QID 24 Arr 1356
64-14845 Boeing RC-135V 38th RS, Offutt AFB. NEBRASKA
85-0029 Douglas KC-10A 60th AMW, Travis AFB. CALIFORNIA
87-0117 Douglas KC-10A 60th AMW, Travis AFB. CALIFORNIA
N716CK Boeing 747 Kalitta Air CMB 164 Arr 1403

Nose Art & Names are now on all of the fifteen 100th ARW KC-135’s. The last one was noted today on 61-0288 when it departed at 1225 as “Holy Terror”. This is a rundown of all the names …..


Boeing KC-135R

“High Life”


Boeing KC-135R

“Miss Irish”


Boeing KC-135R

“Wolff Pack”


Boeing KC-135R

“Big Gas Bird”


Boeing KC-135R

“Our Gal Sal”


Boeing KC-135R

“Hundred Proof”


Boeing KC-135R

“All American Gal”


Boeing KC-135T

“Reluctant Dragon”


Boeing KC-135R

“Sly Fox”


Boeing KC-135T

“Homesick Angel”


Boeing KC-135R

“The Jester”


Boeing KC-135R

“Holy Terror”


Boeing KC-135R

“The Savage”


Boeing KC-135R

“Black Jack”


Boeing KC-135R

“Boss Lady”


Other photos that were taken on the day.