Hurlburt Airmen celebrate 100 Years of air refueling, refuel over Emerald Coast, Pensacola

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Cody Ramirez
  • 1st Special Operations Wing

The 1st Special Operations Wing flew an air-to-air refueling mission with an MC-130J Commando II and CV-22 Osprey over the Emerald Coast of Northwest Florida to celebrate 100 years of aerial refueling, June 27, 2023.

This event commemorated the groundbreaking achievement of the first aerial refueling mission, accomplished on June 27, 1923, by 1st Lt. Virgil Hine and 1st Lt. Frank W. Seifert.

Hine and Seifert have a connection to the Air Commando community through values. As the first aviators to pull off the impossible on June 27, 1923, Hine and Seifert displayed excellence, adaptability, and courage. On that day, Hine and Seifert, flying a DH-4B, passed gasoline through a gravity hose to another DH-4B piloted by Capt. Lowell H. Smith and 1st Lt. John P. Richter, accomplishing the first aerial refueling.

One hundred years later, the United States Air Force celebrates these Airmen, and looks to the next generation to bring diversity of thought, push boundaries, and find solutions beyond the status quo.

Air Force Special Operations Command recognized the power of air-to-air refueling when the command was established. Since the 1990s, AFSOC has modified C-130s such as the HC-130P and HC-130N Combat Kings. In 2013 they added to their capabilities with the introduction of the MC-130J Commando II. The aircraft replaced older models and is equipped with the necessary systems to perform air-to-air refueling, allowing them to extend their range and endurance during special operations mission, countering the tyranny of distance within many of the regions they operate.

Since its introduction in 2011, the MC-130J has been operated by AFSOC pilots in locations around the globe to include the Middle East such as Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Yemen. They have also deployed to Africa such as Sahel, Horn of Africa, and Central Africa, as well as Europe and the Pacific.

The 1 SOW and AFSOC were only one example of showcasing the United States Air Force air-to-air refueling capabilities on June 27. Service-wide, flyovers took place across 50 states to honor 100 years of aerial refueling excellence. More than 150 tankers from 26 Total Force installations were scheduled to participate with KC-135 Stratotankers, KC-10 Extenders, and KC-46 Pegasus aircraft.

Today’s U.S. Air Force air refueling capabilities deliver unrivaled rapid global reach for U.S. forces and our Allies and partners throughout the globe. Aerial refueling serves as a force multiplier, increasing the speed, range, lethality, flexibility, and versatility of combat aircraft. Tankers also carry cargo and passengers, perform aeromedical evacuations, and enable strategic deterrence for the United States.

Innovation and tenacity, characteristics that fuel our Airmen today, were what drove aviators to deliver a game-changing capability 100 years ago.

Air Force Special Operations Command stands alongside Air Mobility Command, saluting the visionaries who’ve done the impossible, while inspiring the next generation of dreamers and out-of-the box thinkers for the challenges ahead.