TAMPA, Fla. - You might see their planes and uniforms and maybe you’ve even seen video of how they refuel planes in mid-air, but those who fly for the Air Force face a challenging mission shared by many these days.
“I’m a dad to a couple of kids, so we’re doing the homeschooling thing right now,” said Col. Stephen Snelson, base commander at MacDill A.F.B. In Tampa.
COVID-19 has closed schools for two months.
“And we are desperate for any kind of distraction,” Snelson said.
The distraction he and other base officials came up with is a virtual flight lesson, live on Facebook.
KC-135 aerial refueling tanker pilot Maj. Justin Kellett delivered part of the lesson while attendees wrote questions in the comments on the live feed.
Kellett’s teaching partner, Maj. Andrea May, showed viewers a pre-flight inspection.
Among the thousands watching their lesson was the Karas family in New Tampa, with three young daughters.
“It’s educational, it’s interactive because they can ask questions,” said Natalie Karas.
She says the lesson is interesting and understandable to a variety of ages.
“I think they struck a good balance,” she offered.
The aerial refueling tankers are a feat of engineering. While in flight, a nozzle is lowered from the tanker to refuel another plane while both travel at hundreds of miles an hour, thousands of feet in the air.
The KC-135 can carry 91,000 gallons of fuel.
“So if your car had a 15-gallon gas tank, the KC-135 could fill up over 2,000 cars,” explained Kellett.
MacDill officials say if this lesson is successful they may produce a series of them.
“We might be encouraging or lighting a fire in the next Air Force pilot,” said Snelson.
At the very least, lessons from MacDill’s refueling experts may rescue parents who have run out of gas teaching kids at home.
LINK: To see the lesson, visit https://www.facebook.com/103602983004305/posts/3227069650657607/?d=n.