Tankers flash new buckeye pride
By Senior Airman Wendy Kuhn, 121 ARW
/ Published May 19, 2015
Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio -- There is something different on the flight line of the 121st Air Refueling Wing, Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base, Ohio. The runway has not changed, and the same KC-135 Stratotankers still fly there. The new addition is the artwork that has been added to one of the aircraft, and will eventually be rolled out to the others as well.
"The tail flash is probably the most noticeable," said Maj. Nicholas Hupp, a pilot with the 121 ARW. It now contains a block "O" with a buckeye leaf next to the word "Ohio." A racing stripe was also placed down the side, "eyebrow" paint was introduced above the pilot and co-pilot's windows, and nose art was added below that, he said. The nose art consists of a red state of Ohio patch listing the name of the primary crew chief, and the "sluff" patch. The secondary crew chief's name was also added on the bottom of the aircraft.
"I believe I was up in Selfridge, Mich., when I noticed their individualized paint scheme," said Lt. Col. Kenneth Kmetz, 121 ARW maintenance group commander. "I thought, 'If Michigan can do it, we can do it better!'"
Lt. Col. Kmetz said the leadership team in MXG was very enthusiastic about the idea so they decided to take it to the wing staff. A team was then put together from operations and maintenance to explore the possibilities and work out the legalities with the design.
"I absolutely love what the team came up with," said Col. Jim Jones, wing commander. "Professional collaboration always brings out the best product!"
The changes have already been applied to the first aircraft and the others will be completed in accordance with their regular maintenance schedules, said Senior Master Sgt. Edward Taylor, quality assurance team lead. It takes about 60 - 70 man hours to add the new artwork to each aircraft, he said.
The new artwork has also had a positive impact on unit morale and esprit de corps, said Col. Jones. "We have a proud heritage of aviation here in Ohio, from the Wright Brothers to the Tuskegee Airmen to Neal Armstrong, and the list goes on," he said.
"Having our names on the jets again gives us a sense of pride and ownership," said Tech. Sgt. Jonathan Miller, crew chief. "As far as we're concerned, that's our aircraft and we're proud of that."
"It symbolizes what is great and unique about this wing and its mission, past and present," Lt. Col. Kmetz said. "I believe each Airman in the wing, and in the state, can take pride in what the markings represent. We are still the United States Air Force, but the aircraft says, 'We are the Buckeyes - Ohio's contribution to the Total Force!"