On alert with SAC’s KC-97 tankers



KC-97F 51-0246 with B-47B Stratojet 51-2263 on the boom.

The majority of C-97 production involved the KC-97 tanker versions. Much of the aircrew duty time was spent on alert at their home base.

Nuclear-armed strategic bombers were located on hardstandings close to the end of the runway. Adjacent were an equal number of KC-97s.

Aircrew for the alert bombers and tankers, together with support personnel, were housed in purpose-built accommodation bordering the dedicated hardstandings. The seven days spent on alert were primarily periods of tedium, although higher authority frequently tested reaction times and procedures by activating the klaxon. While aircrew dashed to their aircraft, technicians scurried to their duties in a well-practised drill designed to ensure that aircraft were airborne within the prescribed 15 minutes.

Everything that could conceivably be planned as a reality assessment was factored into daily life for alert bomber and tanker crews.

Become a Premium Member to Read More

This is a premium article and requires an active Key.Aero subscription to view.

I’m an existing member, sign me in!

I don’t have a subscription…

Enjoy the following subscriber only benefits:

  • Unlimited access to all KeyAero content
  • Exclusive in-depth articles and analysis, videos, quizzes added daily
  • A fully searchable archive – boasting hundreds of thousands of pieces of quality aviation content
  • Access to read all our leading aviation magazines online - meaning you can enjoy the likes of FlyPast, Aeroplane Monthly, AirForces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, Aviation News, Airports of the World, PC Pilot and Airliner World - as soon as they leave the editor’s desk.
  • Access on any device- anywhere, anytime
  • Choose from our offers below