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Incentive flights: Reservists get a close-up view of refueling mission

Senior Airman Jon Becenti from the 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron observes as boom operator Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams with the 465th Air Refueling Squadron refuels a 513th Air Control Group E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System in mid-air Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Becenti and 13 other first-term Airmen from the 507th Air Refueling Wing were chosen to fly on an incentive flight to get a closer look at the 507th ARW’s refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

Senior Airman Jon Becenti from the 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron observes as boom operator Staff Sgt. Dalton Williams with the 465th Air Refueling Squadron refuels a 513th Air Control Group E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System in mid-air Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Becenti and 13 other first-term Airmen from the 507th Air Refueling Wing were chosen to fly on an incentive flight to get a closer look at the 507th ARW’s refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

Senior Airman Donavan Furr, an aircraft hydraulics technician with the 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, observes as the pilot and co-pilot complete the pre-landing checklist Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Furr was one of more than a dozen Airmen chosen to participate in an incentive flight for first-term airmen within the 507th Air Refueling Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

Senior Airman Donavan Furr, an aircraft hydraulics technician with the 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, observes as the pilot and co-pilot complete the pre-landing checklist Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. Furr was one of more than a dozen Airmen chosen to participate in an incentive flight for first-term airmen within the 507th Air Refueling Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

Master Sgt. Steve Stanton, a boom operator with the 465th Air Refueling Squadron, gives a pre-flight safety briefing to more than a dozen 507th Air Refueling Wing members before an incentive flight Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The flight was intended to demonstrate in-flight refueling operations to Airmen in the hopes of showing them how their efforts contribute to the Reserve mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

Master Sgt. Steve Stanton, a boom operator with the 465th Air Refueling Squadron, gives a pre-flight safety briefing to more than a dozen 507th Air Refueling Wing members before an incentive flight Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma. The flight was intended to demonstrate in-flight refueling operations to Airmen in the hopes of showing them how their efforts contribute to the Reserve mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

A group of Airmen from the 507th Air Refueling Wing wait as the flight crew completes the pre-flight checklist before departing on an incentive flight aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The Airmen were chosen by their leadership to be a part of the incentive flight, giving them a chance to see how their individual duties contribute to the 507th ARW’s refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

A group of Airmen from the 507th Air Refueling Wing wait as the flight crew completes the pre-flight checklist before departing on an incentive flight aboard a KC-135R Stratotanker Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla. The Airmen were chosen by their leadership to be a part of the incentive flight, giving them a chance to see how their individual duties contribute to the 507th ARW’s refueling mission. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Jeffery Dahlem)

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- Fourteen first-term Reservists from the 507th Air Refueling Wing flew on an incentive flight aboard a 465th Air Refueling Squadron KC-135R Stratotanker Oct. 3, 2015, at Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.

The flight was an opportunity to demonstrate to the Airmen how their work contributes to the wing's refueling mission; giving them perspective outside of their daily activities in the hopes of encouraging first-term Airmen to reenlist.

The Airmen were chosen from varying career fields by their leadership, and even those Reservists who work closely with the jets gained insight during the incentive flight.

"There are so many pieces to the puzzle and everybody contributes their little part," said Senior Airman Kirk Godfrey, a fuels technician with the 507th Logistics Readiness Squadron. "The aircraft isn't going to leave the ground without being in perfect shape mechanically, and the people that work on the aircraft aren't going to work on the aircraft if they're not taken care of by finance or medical. Everybody has to play their part."

During the nearly four hour mission, the flight crew detailed what occurs during a typical refueling mission, from pre-flight checks to mid-air emergency procedures.
After roughly an hour in the air, the Airmen witnessed the pinnacle of the 507th ARW's mission capabilities as the jet delivered fuel in-flight to with an E-3 Sentry Airborne Warning and Control System flown by the 513th Air Control Group. The boom operator allowed two Airmen at a time into the boom pod to observe as he connected to the E-3 less than 100 feet away to transfer tens of thousands of gallons of fuel.

"We actually got to see a mission in progress, and see what the boom does on its own--not just in a simulated manner," said Senior Airman Donavan Furr, an aircraft hydraulic technician with the 507th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "We do these big inspections and I have to take the boom off to perform maintenance and  replace different parts It was nice to actually see it in use."

The 507th ARW hosted the October incentive flight in the hopes of encouraging Airmen who were unsure about their careers to reenlist for another term by giving them a chance to see what the final product of their hard work and sacrifices in the Wing looks like.

"I think it gives our Airmen an opportunity to get some perspective on what the mission is," said Furr. "Their day-to-day mission may not reflect necessarily what the Air Force is about to them, and this is a chance for them to see how their actions help the mission out."