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KC-135 on Display

Milwaukee tanker crew shares the AirVenture scene

By Frederick A. Johnsen

July 27, 2019 - They're as close as your next door neighbor, and as far away as the Middle East. The men and women who brought a Wisconsin Air National Guard KC-135R Stratotanker to EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2019 typically live in the Milwaukee area, but their tankers can take them around the world.

The unit is the 128th Aerial Refueling Wing. Their KC-135s are grand aircraft with amazing longevity. They brought a 1959 model to AirVenture, and it looks like a new and able military machine. Sure, it has had upgrades and major depot maintenance over the six decades of its service. It sports new high-bypass engines, and most of the steam gauge instruments in the cockpit have been replaced by a large multi-display glass cockpit update.

Maj. Lucas Daley is a KC-135 instructor pilot with the Milwaukee unit. When the Wisconsin tankers aren't flying domestic sorties, they support ongoing military efforts overseas. "Every year and a half, we spend two months overseas," Daley said of the aircrew schedule.

Under the swept wing of the big tanker, Tech. Sgt. Abel Torres and Staff Sgt. Matthew Gscheidmeier show visitors an array of personal equipment like flight helmets, oxygen breathing gear, and crew vests. Kids like to try on some of the items for photos. He says someone from the aircrew flight equipment section deploys with the tankers when they go overseas. And that's a good reminder to the rest of us — the folks we might see in the store, on the lakeshore, and at AirVenture may very well be trained professional Air National Guard members contributing to the ongoing security mission of the armed forces around the world.

When asked what he would like AirVenture visitors to know about the Wisconsin Air National Guard, Daley said, "That we're like them. We love to be here." He pointed over his shoulder to the cockpit of the KC-135. "My favorite thing is when kids get to sit in the seat and get excited."

The Wisconsin ANG KC-135 crew tries to keep their display staffed from about 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. It's a great way to get a glimpse of a classic Air Force aircraft supported by a crew of genial professionals.

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