Local civic leaders fly with Team Kingsley

  • Published
  • By Senior Master Sgt. Jennifer Shirar
  • 173rd Fighter Wing

The 173rd Fighter Wing hosted a civic leader flight offering a group of local leaders an opportunity to view an aerial refueling mission over Eastern Oregon, April 7, 2024. 

“Flights like these are a great way to showcase our mission,” said Lt. Col. Nikki Jackson, 173rd FW Public Affairs chief. “These community leaders learn more about what we do every day and can then share that information with those they interact with in the community.”

The leaders boarded a KC-135 from the 141st Air Refueling Wing out of Spokane, Washington and were able to watch as visiting F-35 Lightning II aircraft from Luke Air Force Base refueled.

“Because we work with the 141st on a regular basis, we have a fantastic relationship with them,” said Jackson.  “We have the same priorities in mind when telling our Air Force and Air National Guard story, so partnering with them for the civic leaders flights is a great experience.”

The members aboard had the unique opportunity of flying on a military aircraft, saw the pilot’s cockpit during flight, and witnessed up close the refueling fighter aircraft. 

“The opportunity to fly in the KC-135 was a once in a lifetime opportunity and a civilian's dream,” said Abbie McClung, Klamath Falls City Councilor. “This experience provided a deeper understanding of the sacrifice, commitment, and expertise that our U.S. Air Force brings to the skies. Living here I believe many of us take for granted the importance of the F-15s, and now the visiting F-35s, in our skies and encourage everyone to go outside and look up. Our entire community should be so proud of the work being done at Kingsley Field.”

Originally, the flight was scheduled to take place on Friday, April 5, but a maintenance issue forced the flight to cancel just before take-off.  Unfortunately, only five of the original 12 civic leaders were able to return on Sunday to complete the flight.

“We look forward to hosting the remaining community leaders and plan to give them the opportunity to fly with us in the near future,” said Jackson.

The 173rd Fighter Wing is home to the sole F-15C training schoolhouse for the United States Air Force.