Inlander photographer Young Kwak is traveling with a crew from Fairchild Air Force Base to the Transit Center in Manas, Kyrgyzstan. Read his previous posts here.
In the late afternoon over northern Afghanistan, an F-16 pulls up behind a US Air Force 376th Expeditionary Operations Group KC-135 tanker based out of the Transit Center at Manas, Kyrgyzstan.
Senior Airman Dave Fernandez guides the fueling boom, with a small nozzle tip, over to a receptacle on top of the fighter. After a few moments, the F-16 is latched onto the tanker. After a couple of minutes, the F-16 pulls away with a full tank and fades towards the horizon.
Nine times more and 22,000 gallons later, Shell 74 — the flight number given to this particular mission — heads back home to Manas. The whole mission takes about about seven hours, including flying to and from Manas.
Out of the four member crew used for this mission, three call the Spokane area home. Aircraft Commander and Captain Alex Denton, Co-Pilot and Captain Mike Dobbs and Boom Operator Senior Airman Dave Fernandez all belong to the 92nd Air Refueling Squadron at Fairchild Air Force Base. The fourth, Navigator Gene Croft, is from McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas.