TAMPA, Fla. (970 WFLA) – For nearly 12 years, Master Sgt. Nancy Primm has worked as an in-flight refueling specialist on KC-135 aircrafts, soaring thousands of feet into the air providing fuel to planes for the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps, and allied nation aircraft. Primm is based out of MacDill Air Force Base in the 6th Air Mobility Wing, home to a total of 16 KC-135 planes. If Congress approves, MacDill could get eight more of them.
The KC-135 plane is a stratotanker, comparable to a 707 in size, that can hold 322,500 pounds. Nearly all internal fuel is pumped through the flying boom, which is the KC-135’s primary fuel transfer method. One crew member, known as the boom operator, is stationed in the back of the plane and controls the boom during in-flight air refueling. Primm, who is a trained boom operator, said teamwork is essential in completing the delicate task.
“Have to trust them, and they have to trust you,” Primm said.
Wednesday, March 12, several members of the media were taken along on a refueling training flight. Two pilots, Primm and a second in-flight specialist welcomed everyone aboard a KC-135 on base built in 1960. A half-hour after take-off, the team from MacDill met up at 20,000 feet in the air over Valdosta, Ga. with six A-10 planes from Moody Air Force Base. A-10's are designed for close air support of ground forces and can loiter near battle areas for extended periods of time and operate in low ceiling and visibility conditions.
The purpose was to show how these missions are carefully performed as the KC-135 will be on display among others for “MacDill AFB presents Tampa Bay Airfest 2014” on March 22nd and 23rd.
“KC-135 is MacDill Air Force Base. It’s our signature aircraft.” Terry Montrose said, Deputy Chief of Public Affairs. "When you think MacDill, you think KC-135.”
On Wednesday’s trip, Primm reflected on her past flights aboard the KC-135 that took her all over the world to countries like England, Norway, and Greece, to name a few. She said she plans to retire next month and hopes to fly again - a role she loves.
“I get more satisfaction when able to offload gas to the airlift aircraft that are bringing our wounded warriors out of the AOR (area of responsibility) to the medical care they need,” Primm said.
Photo Credit 970 WFLA/K. Norman
Dates: March 22-23
Event parking and admission are free.