Boom operators master cargo loading

  • Published
  • By 2nd Lt. Daniel de La Fe
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Future KC-46A Pegasus boom operators here experienced firsthand a different type of cargo loading when a C-5M Super Galaxy landed on McConnell’s runway July 26, to transport cargo for Mobility Guardian 2017, Air Mobility Command’s largest mobility exercise of the year.

McConnell will receive the first KC-46, which is a next generation multirole tanker that will expand the Air Force’s capabilities for not only air refueling, but also advancing the 22nd Air Refueling Wing’s role in transporting cargo.

“The KC-46 will be expected to [carry cargo] so that’s a whole big learning and training curve for pilots and really for the boom operators because they are going to have to become smart on cargo,” said Maj. Peter Merrill, 344th Air Refueling Squadron assistant director of operations and the C-5M pilot.

The KC-46 will increase the boom operators’ role as load masters for both strategic airlift and air refueling as the tanker will have increased storage space for mobility pallets.

“We’ll be able to employ it in a totally different way than tankers have been employed in the past,” said Staff Sgt. Cody Naylor, 344th Air Refueling Squadron NCO in charge of KC-46 scheduling.

KC-46 boom operators will take on a greater role with cargo transport than they have previously experienced with the KC-135 Stratotanker. The ability to transport larger cargo on the KC-46 will require different loading methods and techniques than used on the KC-135.

“Just seeing [loading] from a different aspect was pretty helpful because I only know the KC-135 so moving to a new aircraft and having knowledge of all the different systems people work with is definitely very helpful,” said Staff Sgt. Danielle Warren, 344th Air Refueling Squadron NCO in charge of KC-135 and KC-46 training.

The C-5, which is an aircraft dedicated to the airlift mission from Travis Air Force Base, brought a new perspective on cargo transportation to the boom operators and logisticians stationed here.

“The KC-46 boom operators will have to know everything about cargo and everything about refueling,” Merrill said. “The biggest win out of this entire thing was getting the them [Air Terminal Operations Center and the Cargo Deployment Function] to practice to load different cargo, doing a load plan and working with load masters, but on the KC-46 it will be the boom operators that they will work with.”

Naylor and Warren have not yet attended load master training for the KC-46, but they both have had cargo experience on their previous aircraft, the KC-10 Extender and KC-135, respectively.

“It was cool to see a different aspect of how other crew members load their aircraft, and maybe we can use some of that when we go to load on a KC-46,” Warren said.

Boom operators utilized Mobility Guardian here to become more educated and well-rounded about airlift and the strategic component it adds to air refueling and the Air Force arsenal as we move toward a future with the KC-46.