This Week In AFLCMC History - April 3 - 9, 2023

  • Published
  • By Air Force Life Cycle Management Center History Office
3 Apr 1981 (Digital Directorate/AFSAC) 

On this date, HQ USAF directed the Air Force Systems Command (AFSC) to prepare draft Letters of Offer and Acceptance (LOAs) for the sale of five E-3A Sentry AWACS (photo examples at top)  and up to eight supporting tanker/cargo aircraft to Saudi Arabia. As part of the 1981-1986 “Peace Sentinel” program, this sale was reported in its time to be the largest single foreign military sale of arms in U.S. history. Announcements of the plan to sell these aircraft to Saudi Arabia prompted immediate criticism from both Congress and Israel, resulting in a great deal of lobbying from the Reagan administration to win support for the plan, which was also not popular among the American public in the wake of the then-recently-ended Iran hostage crisis (1979-1981). 

4 Apr 2003 (ISR & Special Operations Forces Dir.) 
Today, 20 years ago, the V-22 Osprey’s Integrated Test Team completed a milestone by successfully flying a terrain-following radar sortie in Osprey Number 7 (a CV-22, or Air Force, variant of the joint program aircraft). This occurred during the multi-mode radar test plan segment of the aircraft's test plan. The CV-22 is a tiltrotor aircraft that can take off and land vertically, as well as hover in place, like a helicopter, but can also adjust its rotors to fly fast over long-distances like a more traditional turboprop aircraft - effectively combining the best of both worlds to be a highly versatile and flexible platform. For these reasons, it is primarily used by the Air Force’s Special Operations Forces. 

5 Apr 1981 (Tinker AFB) 

Oklahoma Governor George Nigh, the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds, and thousands of spectators gathered at a Tinker AFB open house and air show to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Tinker's establishment. The base owed its start to a handful of local Oklahoma City-area businessmen who formed the “Oklahoma Industries Foundation” and made a donation of 960 acres of land to the federal government to encourage the construction of an air base. This resulted in the Oklahoma City Air Depot, officially signed into life on 8 April 1941, and activated on 1 March 1942. Tinker modified B-17, B- 24, and B-29 bombers during WW2. In the 1950s, additional aircraft like the KC- 135 were being modified at Tinker. The first E-3 Sentries arrived at Tinker in 1977, shortly before the base’s 40th birthday celebration. 

6 Apr 1989 (Wright-Patterson AFB) 

A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the Hope Hotel, a privately-owned and financed Visitor’s Quarters and Conference Center in Area A near the then-HQ Air Force Logistics Command (AFLC). The Hope Hotel, named for comedian Bob Hope, famously served as the site of the highly successful 1995 Dayton Peace Accords, ending the Bosnian War in Europe. A bench and plaque commemorate the “Peace Walk,” a sidewalk connecting Hope Hotel  to the visiting officer quarters on WPAFB where diplomats for the peace talks resided between official meetings. Diplomats could walk and talk together to the hotel for their meetings in an “unofficial” off-the-record capacity. 

8 Apr 1969 (Hill AFB) 

On this date, Hill AFB’s 28th Military Airlift Squadron was officially inactivated. First activated at Hill AFB in 1953 as the 28th Logistic Support Squadron, it supplied the base with air transport services using the Douglas C-124 Globemaster II. The 28th would fly the C-124 for all 16 of its years at Hill AFB. In 1955, the 28th was reassigned to the 3079th Aviation Depot Wing (headquartered at WPAFB), and then reassigned again in 1962 and 1966. Throughout all of these changes, the 28th remained a tenant unit at Hill AFB -up until its inactivation in 1969. “Operating Location 1, 62nd Military Airlift Wing” was designated and activated on 8 April 1969 at Hill AFB in its place. 

9 Apr 1957 (Mobility and Training Aircraft Dir.) 

Today in 1957, the Boeing KB-50J Superfortress tanker made its first flight. This was a variation of the B-50 (itself an outgrowth of the B-29), the KB-50J  had two large fuel tanks in its bomb bay and added outboard jet engines to increase its takeoff power and top speed to. The KB-50 was the USAF’s first tanker, but it was too slow to refuel the second generation of jets at safe speeds. A jet-powered refueler allowed its receiving planes to fly with greater margin above stalling. The KB-50J led to the development of the KC-97, which was replaced by the KC-135 Stratotanker: a tanker that was so successful it still flies today. 

65 Years Ago in KC-135 History: Operation Jet Stream 

MAJOR GENERAL WILLIAM E. EUBANK JR. Bio photoIn January 1957, the 93rd Bombardment Wing made history with the first nonstop circumnavigation of the world in a jet aircraft, specifically, in three Boeing B-52 Stratofortresses. The 24,874 mile journey took 45 hours and 19 minutes to complete, and utilized aerial refueling to keep the aircraft in the sky for the duration of flight required of them. The 93rd Bombardment Wing, commanded by then-Brig Gen William Eubank, Jr., received the coveted MacKay Trophy for this feat. On 7 and 8 April, 1958, Gen Eubank would go on to complete a couple of world flying records himself at the helm of a 93rd Bombardment Wing KC-135 Stratotanker. 

Born in Welch, West Virginia, on 12 August 1912, William (“Bill”) E. Eubank, Jr. began his military career as a flying cadet in 1936. He was in command of the 91st Bomb Squadron at Fort MacKinley in Manila when the Japanese attacked the Philippines on 8 December 1941 - just hours after their attack on Pearl Harbor. After the war, in 1948, Gen Eubank began his assignment with Strategic Air Command (SAC), eventually being made the commander of the 93rd Bombardment Wing (93 BW) in 1953. The 93 BW was the first SAC installation to receive the B-52. In-deed, Gen Eubank himself flew the very first operational B-52 from Boeing’s Seattle plant to Castle Chatham AFB, California, where the 93 BW was stationed. As noted, the B-52s of his unit also flew the first round-the-world jet flight. The round-the-world flight was meant to show the world (and the Soviet Union in particular) that the U.S. had the capacity to be - and strike - anywhere on the planet at any time. 

On 7 April 1958, 65 years ago this week, Gen Eubank was in Tokyo, Japan, readying his KC-135 (S/N 56-3601) for the first attempt at a record speed, non-stop, non-refueling flight from Tokyo to Madrid, Spain as part of an Operation termed “Jet Stream,” so named be-cause the flight would only be successful if the crew kept the plane in the jet streams. If Gen Eubank failed to receive the needed boost from the wind to complete the journey, a back-up KC-135 was stationed in New Zealand for a second attempt. 

Brigadier General Eubank departed Tokyo at 2038Z on 7 Apr 1958, and headed east. When his flight ended on 8 Apr 1958, he would not have made it all the way to Madrid (opting to set down in Lajes, Azores, when winds dwindled), but he would set two new world records: a distance in a straight line without refueling record (10,229.3 miles from Tokyo to Lajes, Azores) and a nonstop speed record (492.262 mph, going from Tokyo to Washington, D.C., in 13 hours, 45 minutes and 46.5 seconds). 

Today, both of the aircraft that made Maj Eubank’s career - the B-52 and the KC-135 - continue to fly to-day, where they are sustained after all these years by the personnel of the AFLCMC.