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Stratotanker Arrives in Oshkosh

KC-135 sits on Boeing Plaza to Celebrate the Year of the Tanker

By Ti Windisch, EAA Staff Writer

July 23, 2018 - The Year of the Tanker wouldn’t be complete without the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker represented, which it will be all week at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2018 after one rolled into Boeing Plaza from Milwaukee on Sunday.

The massive tanker had a short flight from its home base, which was a good thing according to Wisconsin Air National Guard Master Sgt. and KC-135 crew chief Kelly Lawrence.

“The weather was bad there and the weather was bad here,” Lawrence said. “It was a very short flight so it was really nice not having to stay in that for too long.”

This is Lawrence’s first trip to Oshkosh, and he said despite working on KC-135s and seeing plenty of other aircraft since 1990, he’s still finding new things to see at AirVenture.

“Seeing so many airplanes over so many years I didn’t think I’d be this excited about seeing airplanes, but I’ve already seen some things I haven’t seen before,” Lawrence said. “And we’ve only been here a couple hours. I look forward to doing the tours.”

Lawrence, other crew members, and the pilots of the KC-135 will be around it all week to answer questions and give tours to Oshkosh attendees. Lawrence said he’s planning on asking everyone he gives a tour to where they are from to get to know all the different folks going through his tanker a little better.

“I’m really happy to be here, really glad it’s the Year of the Tanker, and I’m really glad that 600,000 people can go through my tanker and I get to shake every one of their hands and say welcome to every single one of them,” Lawrence said.

Attendees with questions about the KC-135, a 1962 model, are encouraged to ask them. Lawrence said he and the other crew members get just as enthusiastic about aviation as the typical Oshkosh attendees do.

Although this KC-135 was built decades ago, Lawrence said the entire fleet is constantly being equipped with newer technology to keep the Stratotankers able to keep everything else in the fleet up in the air.

“They’ve gone through a lot of changes, from the size of the engines to the avionics on board, everything gets constantly updated,” Lawrence said. “It takes us everywhere in the world, that’s why I keep doing this. I get to go somewhere different once a year at least.”

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