“Air refueling propels our nation’s airpower across the skies, unleashing its full potential,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander. “It connects our strategic vision with operational reality, ensuring we can reach any corner of the globe with unwavering speed and precision. Air refueling embodies our resolve to defend freedom and project power, leaving an indelible mark on aviation history.”
Innovation and tenacity, characteristics that fuel our Airmen today, were what drove aviators to deliver a game-changing capability 100 years ago.
In the continued pursuit of advanced capabilities and increased endurance, U.S. Army Air Service aviators pulled off the impossible on June 27, 1923. On that day, 1st Lt. Virgil Hine and 1st Lt. Frank W. 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.
This critical capability is essential for the Department of Defense’s most vital missions. To remain relevant in the current and future security environments, the Air Force is in the process of recapitalizing its tanker fleet. The ongoing acquisition of the KC-46A and accelerating the pursuit of the next-generation air refueling system, announced in March, is propelling forward the capability developed and entrusted to Airmen a century ago.
“As we embark on the next 100 years of air refueling, we will continue to strengthen our air mobility excellence,” Minihan said. “We must leverage the remarkable capabilities of air refueling to preserve peace, protect freedom and bring hope to the world. As Mobility Airmen, we write the next chapter of air refueling.”
AMC salutes the visionaries who’ve done the impossible, while inspiring the next generation of dreamers and out-of-the box thinkers for the challenges ahead.