Nose art honors community, heritage

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Tara Fadenrecht
  • 22nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
Even when it's across oceans and deserts, it brings a sense of connection between the base and the local community and a sense of pride to those who maintain its heritage.

The "WuShock" is the Wichita State University mascot and logo that is now displayed as nose art on one of McConnell Air Force Base's KC-135R Stratotankers earning the aircraft a new nickname, "Shock and Awe."

The yellow character comes in the form of a shock of wheat symbolizing the history of Kansas as the wheat state. The word 'awe' was added to the name to tie in the influence of air power in the local area. 

"We came up with the idea because there was a jet that had the WuShock on it some time ago and we wanted to bring it back," said Senior Master Sgt. Tim Cook, 22nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron line chief.

Many McConnell Airmen attend classes at WSU in addition to cultural and sporting events. This connection led to McConnell leadership wanting to honor the local university for their support, he said.

"We thought that by teaming with them we could show the pride that we have in our aircraft with the pride that they have in education," said Cook.

The nose art isn't only significant to McConnell members, but also to the members of WSU.

"WSU considers it a great honor to have our logo on the nose of one of McConnell's aircraft," said Barth Hague, WSU associate vice president for strategic communications and chief marketing officer. "Just like WSU, McConnell is an iconic part of historic and present-day Wichita, so it only seems fitting that these two great institutions are associated together."

The nose art is symbolic of the connection between McConnell and the local community and it is also a mark of pride and heritage to many who work with the aircraft.

During the World War II era, pilots and crews would paint and name their planes. People would stop calling the plane by its tail number and start calling it by its nickname. This tradition fostered a sense of ownership and heightened morale among the units, said Cook.

"Shock and Awe" is one of five McConnell aircraft currently sporting nose art. Base leadership is hoping to add nose art to at least three more planes over the next several months.

"Aircraft maintainers and aircrew have always had a special affinity for nose art," said Cook. "We are trying to bring back some pride and history to the fleet."