Take Flight With Kansas Air National Guard Refueling Wing

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(WIBW) -- One of the military's oldest aircraft fleets plays an important part in keeping our nation safe right here in our own backyard -- a part of the Kansas Air National Guard.

Each flying fuel tanks in the 190th Air Refueling Wing flies around 100 missions a year, refueling over a thousand planes during those missions, anything from massive B-52's to smaller Thunderbirds.

On Thursday, they showed off their KC-135's on a nearly cross-country that was over in just a few hours during a training exercise. Each one of the aging planes holds 32,000 gallons of jet fuel in its reservoir. Their four jet engines provide the pilots with 22,000 lbs. of thrust, giving the gigantic planes a top speed of mach 0.85.

Thursday's training run started in Forbes Field, headed west to New Mexico, before cutting a line through the South all of the way to West Virginia.

These KC-135's are slowly being phased out, though, as the Defense Dept. swaps them out for newer KC-46's.