Scott Air Force Base News

126th Air Refueling Wing flies first-ever ‘Black Letter Flight’

A KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 126th Air Refueling Wing launches on a black letter flight Dec. 5. This is the first black letter flight for the 126th ARW. A black letter flight occurs when there are zero discrepancies or maintenance issues on the aircraft.
A KC-135R Stratotanker assigned to the 126th Air Refueling Wing launches on a black letter flight Dec. 5. This is the first black letter flight for the 126th ARW. A black letter flight occurs when there are zero discrepancies or maintenance issues on the aircraft.

Members of the 126th Air Refueling Wing Maintenance Squadron and 906th Air Refueling Squadron flew a KC-135 in a “black letter initial status” for the first time in both squadrons’ history on Dec. 5.

A black letter flight occurs when an aircraft flies with zero discrepancies. This is rarely achieved with this airframe, and many crew chiefs go their entire career without achieving this milestone.

“The last black letter flight was in 2014 at McConnell Air Force Base,” said Maj. Tim C. Huchel, 126th Maintenance Squadron commander. “Black letter flights are rare because these aircrafts are 60 plus years old. They came off the production line in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. To fly an aircraft that old in 2016 without any discrepancies is quite an accomplishment.”

Just because an aircraft has a discrepancy does not mean it is unsafe. There are several discrepancies that do not affect the safety of the flight.

“A (discrepancy) could be a decal missing on a plane. We will then order a new decal and then note the discrepancy,” Huchel said. “There should be no (safety) concerns. Our men and women take their jobs seriously. If you are flying on a KC-135 with the 126th ARW, you should feel safe.”

The black letter flight status was accomplished through the Total Force Association. The plane is an asset of the 126th ARW and is maintained by members of the 906th ARS.

“Total Force Association is a blended mix of guardsmen and active duty members working together to accomplish a mission,” said Lt. Col. Keith R. Benko, 126th Maintenance Squadron commander. “I am extremely proud of the members of the 126th ARW and 906th ARS for this accomplishment.”

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