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Kyrgyz officials witness aerial refueling
Aircrew members hold American and Kyrgyz Republic flags in the windows of a C-17 Globemaster III as it is refueled by a KC-135 Stratotanker during an aerial refueling orientation flight Sept. 2, 2011. The orientation flight was designed to showcase aerial refueling procedures to key personnel at the Kyrgyz Ministry of Transportation and Communication, the Civil Aviation Agency, the Manas International Airport and the Kyrgyz Air Navigation military sector. The aircraft and crews are assigned to the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan. (U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore)
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Kyrgyz officials witness aerial refueling

Posted 9/5/2011   Updated 9/5/2011 Email story   Print story


by Tech. Sgt. Tammie Moore
376th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

9/5/2011 - TRANSIT CENTER AT MANAS, Kyrgyzstan  -- Airmen from the 22nd Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron flew 20 Kyrgyz Republic distinguished guests on a KC-135 Stratotanker aerial refueling orientation flight over Kyrgyzstan Sept. 2.

The flight showcased aerial procedures during the refueling of a C-17 Globemaster III to key personnel from the country's Ministry of Transportation and Communication, the Civil Aviation Agency, the Manas International Airport and the Kyrgyz Air Navigation military sector.

"The flight allowed the Transit Center to smartly show how it puts the right asset to the right place at the right time, a critical task we certainly could not do without our crucial MIA/KAN partners," said Col. Brian Newberry, 376th Expeditionary Operations Group commander.

This was the first time MIA President Erik Shaidinov flew on an American military aircraft and the first time he observed in-flight refueling.

"It was a fairytale, like what you see in films," Shaidinov said. "I had heard about (aerial refueling), but today I got to see with my own eyes. It is good you show us these types of things. If you didn't show us, we would still have questions about what is taking place. Thank you for showing it to us."

Prior to the flight the guests received a briefing so they could learn about the missions performed at the Transit Center, which include air refueling, airlift, onward movement of troops and building relationships.

"Building bridges with our Kyrgyz partners is our fourth mission pillar, yet it clearly underpins all the other pillars," Newberry said. "Our MIA/KAN teammates are integral to us accomplishing our mission around the clock, so letting them see one of our core missions, air refueling, is the right thing to do. It is not understated to say that if our partners better understand our mission, they can better help us accomplish it daily."

During the flight, the Kyrgyz guests had the opportunity to talk with aircrew members and ask questions about the aerial refueling process.

"Our Kyrgyz partners were impressed with the precision and uniqueness of the air refueling mission," Newberry said. "Seeing the C-17 up close being refueled by a Transit Center-based KC-135 flying over their beautiful snow-capped mountains, they were impressed by how controlled and stable the aerial event was. Thanks to excellent flying skills by the tanker pilot and the receiver pilot, air refueling continued for a 41-minute sustained contact showing aerial excellence in the clear skies over the Kyrgyz Republic."

This was the second time Col. Abdila-Akin Ataev, KAN military sector chief, has flown on a KC-135 refueling mission. On his first mission, he watched as an (American military leader's) aircraft was refueled while flying in the southern part of the country.

"The flight was a good thing for all of the people who got to come out, such as the leadership for MIA and KAN," said Ataev, who graduated pilot school in 1984 and has flown the L-29, L-39, Mig-21 and helicopters. "They had a good time. We were a little bit worried at the beginning about one plane attaching itself to another. During the refueling we had to have your air traffic controllers take over responsibility for that time when they detached and the Kyrgz air traffic controllers took back over."

After the flight ended the Kyrgyz guests took a windshield tour of the base.

"Not only was this a successful event with our friends and partners related to the operational side of the Transit Center mission, but today also demonstrated how well our Theater Security Cooperation division engages with key officials in the Kyrgyz government and its ministries," said Capt. Michael Povilus, TSC Social Cultural Branch chief. "These high-level exchanges underpin U.S. Air Force Central Command and U.S. Central Command goals for sustained partnership building and cultivating enduring relationships in support of U.S. foreign policy objectives."

As the Kyrgyz DVs left the Transit Center they expressed their thanks for the opportunity to be part of an aerial refueling mission.

"We have general interests and everything is dependent on us to do what we can do to help (one another)," Shaidinov said. "Thanks again for showing us the flight, we enjoyed it very much."

"Today was a great experience," Ataev said, "and a very good flight."

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