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News | Nov. 26, 2018

DCMA team refuels program support at 28K feet

By Thomas Perry DCMA Public Affairs

Ten Defense Contract Management Agency Boeing St. Louis team members recently took part in a KC-135 Stratotanker orientation flight with the Illinois Air National Guard’s 126th Air Refueling Wing here.

More mission than mundane, this flight provided an atypical opportunity for agency personnel, who normally work a program’s development, production, delivery and sustainment. Once delivery is completed, DCMA employees rarely get a firsthand chance to experience warfighter-product interactions within real-world environments.

“The mission was to link up with a B-52 Stratofortress over Oklahoma on a training mission, which included multiple aerial refueling engagements,” said Charles Petersen, a DCMA Boeing St. Louis program support team engineer.

According to the Air Force’s program website, “the KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the United States Air Force and has excelled in this role for more than 60 years. This unique asset enhances the Air Force’s capability to accomplish its primary mission of global reach. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft.”

After a safety brief and a question and answer session, the DCMA staff were bused to the tarmac where a KC-135 was waiting for team members Cody Kleiner, Tyrone Harper, Jonathan Albers, Thomas Connell, Terry Shaw, Rachael McCollum, Garry Friedman, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bellinghausen, Michael Willett and Petersen.

“After climbing aboard and strapping in, body temperatures were rising as the KC-135 soaked in the hot sun for final preparations and take-off,” said Petersen. “Hearing protection made talking with colleagues difficult but the earplugs were very necessary and appreciated.”

The aircraft quickly cooled as it climbed to 28,000 feet and held course across Missouri at 275 knots.

“Two people at a time could observe the flight operations from the vintage cockpit and then go back to the rear window where the air refueling boom operator ‘dances in the sky’ with the pilots of the receiving aircraft,” said Petersen. “Seeing the KC-135 boom operator maneuver with the iconic B-52 was most impressive, especially considering the proximity of the view.”

That warfighter viewpoint is an important insight for those who are used to analyzing products in controlled environments, ensuring quality on factory floors and evaluating program health through metrics.

Petersen said he fully appreciated the “once-in-a lifetime experience.” Few people gain such a perspective and without an earlier act of command outreach — those few would include 10 less agency team members.

DCMA Boeing St. Louis partnered with its industry counterparts to host 50 Scott AFB service members on a tour of Boeing’s F-15 advanced production line in July. Tour attendees included representatives from the 618th Air Operations Center, the 375th Air Mobility Wing, the 126th Air Refueling Wing and others who support F-15SA deliveries.

“The highly-successful event allowed DCMA Boeing St. Louis to further improve our relationships with the USAF personnel supporting current F-15SA and future F-15QA deliveries,” said Navy Cmdr. Bisher Mufti, the former DCMA Boeing St. Louis executive officer. “The tour included a walk through the production floor where the aircraft are manufactured, a tour of the flight ramp where the aircraft experience their first test flight, and a walk through the Boeing ‘Prologue Room,’ which showcases the courageous pioneers of aviation and the achievements of thousands who turned dreams into reality.”

Attendees enjoyed the opportunity to see the aircraft’s origin points and developed an appreciation for what it takes to deliver a quality, fully-functional aircraft.

“The tour of the Boeing facility, coupled with the professionalism and knowledge of the DCMA Boeing St. Louis and the Boeing Company staff demonstrated the hard work and dedication it takes to present a new F-15 Eagle,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Schubbe, the 375th Air Mobility Wing staff judge advocate.