Hill Fighters participate in nationwide centennial celebration

  • Published
  • By Donovan Potter, 75th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

HILL AIR FORCE BASE – To celebrate 100 years of air refueling, two Hill F35A fighters performed air refueling operations with a KC-135 Stratotanker from the Utah Air National Guard above several Utah locations June 27.

The statewide flyovers, stretched from Logan to Cedar City as part of Operation Centennial Contact, as more than 150 aircraft flew in all 50 states, to pay tribute to the first successful air refueling on June 27, 1923.

On that day in history, Army Air Service 1st Lieutenants Virgil Hine and Frank Seifert, flying a DH-4B, a two-seat, single-engine World War I biplane, passed gasoline through a gravity hose to another DH-4B piloted by Capt. Lowell H. Smith and 1st Lt. John P. Richter.

The operation transferred 75 gallons of fuel and successfully completed the first aerial refueling. 

That moment a century ago continues to live large today as it set the course for aerial refueling, a capability that shifted history and remains an essential necessity for today’s military aircraft defending our nation.

“As we embark on the next 100 years of air refueling, we will continue to strengthen our air mobility excellence,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “We must leverage the remarkable capabilities of air refueling to preserve peace, protect freedom, and bring hope to the world.”

To remain relevant in the current and future security environments, the Air Force is in the process of recapitalizing its tanker fleet with the ongoing acquisition of the KC-46A and accelerating its pursuit of the next-generation air refueling system, announced in March – propelling forward the capability developed by Airmen a century ago.