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Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Gaulitz operates the controls during aerial refueling mission over the Atlantic Ocean Feb. 11, 2016. Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 conducted aerial refuels off the North Carolina coast to provide routine training for both pilots and crew members. Aerial refueling enables aircraft with short ranges of flight to significantly extend their operational reach. This capability enables missions to be executed more efficiently, which gives the pilots the ability to provide quicker and more extensive support to the Marines on the ground. Guilitz is a crew master with the squadron. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas/Released)

Photo by Cpl. N.W. Huertas

VMGR-252 soars through evening sky during aerial refuel training

26 Feb 2016 | Cpl. N.W. Huertas 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing

Aerial refueling enables aircraft with short ranges of flight to significantly extend their operational reach. Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 252 provides this capability and enables missions to be executed more efficiently, which gives the pilots the ability to provide quicker and more extensive support to the Marines on the ground.

“The squadron utilizes the KC-130J Super Hercules to conduct all refueling operations,” said Cpl. Peter Kaslaitis, a crewmaster with VMGR-252. “A team of qualified crew members are required to perform an in-flight refuel. The pilot and co-pilot fly the aircraft; one crew member maintains radio communication with the receiving aircraft; a crew chief or crew master transfers fuel using the aerial refueling panel and two load masters or crew masters observe the aerial refuel.”

 

According to Kaslaitis, to perform a routine aerial refuel, the refueling aircraft will establish itself in a designated airspace called the refueling track. In this area it will fly in circles waiting for the receiving aircraft to approach. In some cases, the refueling aircraft will take off with the receivers, or meet in-flight and fly from point A to point B refueling along the way.

Crew members maintain constant communication with pilots of the refueling aircraft and provide guidance on the refuel over the radio and by utilizing hand and arm signals.

“Approximately 20 aerial refuels are conducted every month by VMGR-252,” said Kaslaitis. “The training benefits both crew members of the squadron and the aircraft that receive the fuel. Coordination between both aircraft requires strategic skills from all participating entities.”

 


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