Becoming an Air Force In-Flight Refueling operator is not for everyone! Operating aircraft such as B-2 bombers or a KC-135 requires more than just a steady hand and calm nerves. You will need to know important aspects behind pumping massive amounts of fuel into the plane while in flight. Read more here about what you need to know about this exciting Air Force career!
A fascinating career option in the Air Force includes in-flight refueling.
Such careers are known by different names such as “Booms” or “Boom Operators.” Aside from wearing cool aviation uniforms, such careers play an important role when flying over war zones, engaging in training operations or anytime the aircraft is in the air being chartered to its next destination.
Operating aircraft such as B-2 bombers or a KC-135 requires more than just a steady hand and calm nerves. You will need to know important aspects behind pumping massive amounts of fuel into the plane while in flight. Here is a summary of what you need to know about this career option.
Your Responsibilities and Tasks
Training missions are completed in-flight within roughly 4 hour duration. Training is constant to keep skills sharp and ready for Air Force missions. You may be required to assist Combat Systems Officer in determining geographical position of the aircraft. Duties performed are related to in-flight refueling aircrew. Status of equipment is checked regularly through operational and visual systems. Inspections are performed for post-flight, preflight and through-flight reporting.
During air refueling monitoring of control panel is conducted. Advisories are made to receiver pilot to ensure aircraft maintains positioning with air-refueling. Tanker pilot is also informed of progress achieved during air refueling operations. Emergency operations are conducted during on-load and off-load of fuel. Duties also entail proper loading of aircraft within safety operation guidelines and provides takeoff and landing information through weight and balance data collected. Ensures and instructs passengers of emergency procedures and safety equipment while aboard aircraft.
Qualifications, Knowledge and Skills Needed
Persons interested careers related to in-flight refueling should have interest in areas and skills including science, mathematics, aircraft, electronics and maintenance and repair. Specific knowledge in areas such as mechanical and electrical principals is required. Additional knowledge in the following areas is also a plus:
• Aircraft emergency procedures and in-flight maintenance.
• Flight manuals, flight theory and flying directives.
• Personal equipment and oxygen.
• Cargo tie-down techniques and weight and balance factors.
• Operation of aircraft refueling systems during normal and emergency situations.
Education and training includes basic military training for roughly 8 weeks. Airmen learn of career assignments during technical training. Physics and mathematics courses are required to be completed when entering this specialty along with high school completion (high school diploma). A basic boom operating course is required to be completed to obtain award of AFSC. Experience for in-flight refueling should include troubleshooting, operating and inspecting systems. There are also physical qualifications mandatory for this specialty to be learned upon when completing medical examination.
Additional Details to Know
A boom operator is also known as an apprentice or someone in training for a career in in-flight refueling. During training you are a crewmember responsible for proper equipment operation while the aircraft is in flight. While flying your status is known as a career enlisted aviator. A duty part of the process includes making sure the tanker and receiver portions of the aircraft.