Air Force flyover of Vicksburg part of a celebration 100 years in the making

Published 4:10 pm Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane … make that two planes!

Vicksburg residents who were outdoors late Tuesday morning likely spotted a pair of large Air Force jets flying low, slow and in formation over the city.

The KC-135R tanker from the Mississippi Air National Guard’s 186th Air Refueling Wing and a C-17 cargo jet were part of the Air Force’s celebration of 100 years of aerial refueling. They left Key Field Air National Guard Base in Meridian and performed a long flyover of Mississippi, Arkansas and Louisiana.

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The flyover lasted nearly five hours and included passes of about a dozen cities ranging from Fayetteville, Arkansas to New Orleans. The planes passed over Vicksburg at approximately 10:40 a.m.

Other Air Force refueling wings performed similar flyovers around the country on Tuesday. In addition to the C-17 over Vicksburg, fighter jets and other cargo aircraft participated in the event.

According to the Air Force, the first aerial refueling occurred on June 27, 1923. On that day, U.S. Army Air Service aviators 1st Lt. Virgil Hine and 1st Lt. Frank W. Seifert, flying a DH-4B, passed gasoline through a hose to another DH-4B flying beneath it carrying Capt. Lowell H. Smith and 1st Lt. John P. Richter.

“Air refueling propels our Nation’s air power across the skies, unleashing its full potential,” Gen. Mike Minihan, Air Mobility Command commander, said in a release. “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.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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