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Mission Ready Airmen Case Studies: Innovative Flurry

  • Published
  • By Joseph Gangemi

Air Education and Training Command is reviewing moments of aviation history to reflect the importance of Agile Combat Employment, in addition to the warrior mindset and mission readiness its Airmen must sustain while preparing for the future fight.

After the conclusion of World War I, aviation entered a phase of remarkable growth and bold experimentation, shaping the future of flight as we know it. This era brought forth not only modern airliners, but also breakthroughs like helicopters and the advent of cross-oceanic travel, forever altering the way humans travel the skies.

In the early 1920s, the Fokker T-2 transport surpassed a 36-hour endurance test thanks to the 735-gallon fuel tanks used during an Army Air Service coast-to-coast flight in May 1923.

At Rockwell Field, California, 1st Lt. Lowell Smith and 1st Lt. John Richter stayed airborne in their DH-4 for 23 hours, 48 minutes. They used a modified DH-4 as a fuel receiver and a DH-4B tanker equipped for aerial refueling and supply drops.

These feats in the 1920’s showcased aviation's endurance and innovation, setting the stage for modern aviation's evolution.

“Air refueling propels our nation’s airpower across the skies, unleashing its full potential,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, commander of Air Mobility Command, addressing the 100-year history of air refueling. “It connects our strategic vision with operational reality, ensuring we can reach any corner of the globe with unwavering speed and precision. Air refueling embodies our resolve to defend freedom and project power, leaving an indelible mark on aviation history.”