56 ARS aircrew educate spouses during orientation flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Miyah Gray
  • 97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

Pilots and boom operators from the 56th Air Refueling Squadron hosted a KC-46 Pegasus orientation flight for the spouses of the 97th Air Mobility Wing at Altus Air Force Base, Oklahoma, July 11, 2022.

The aircrew and spouses flew from Oklahoma to South Dakota and back. During the flight, spouses observed the tanker being refueled five times, and refueling another aircraft five times. 56th ARS aircrew designed the flight to give the spouses exposure to the KC-46’s capabilities and the processes Airmen go through to operate it.

“The purpose of this flight was to integrate our spouses into our day to day mission,” said Capt. Ryan Smith, 56th ARS instructor pilot. “Because this is something we do on a daily basis… it’s really nice to be able to take them up and show them tanker air refueling and receiver air refueling.”

Tech. Sgt. Carrie Williams, 56th ARS operations flight chief, said the flight also served as a way to show appreciation to spouses for their sacrifices and understanding.

“This flight was a way to say thank you to our spouses for being patient with our aircrew members,” she said. “It’s important to show the reason why we go out and fly.”

Shaneka Vondohlen, spouse of Senior Master Sgt. Joseph Vondohlen, 56th ARS flight chief, student training management, said it was thrilling to be able to share the same experience as her husband.

“It’s very exciting to be able to see what my husband does day to day,” she said. “Seeing the planes connect (to the boom) and fly in formation is really cool.”