Black Letter Flight a First for the 126th Air Refueling Wing
By Staff Sgt Michael Patterson, 126th Air Refueling Wing
/ Published December 04, 2016
Scott Air Force Base, Illinois -- Members of the 126th Air Refueling Wing Maintenance Squadron and 906th Air Refueling Squadron will fly a KC-135 in a black letter initial status tomorrow for the first time in both squadron's history.
A black letter flight occurs when an aircraft flies with zero discrepancies. This is rarely achieved in the Air Force 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. In 2016 to fly an aircraft that old 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 126 ARW, you should feel safe. "
The black letter flight status was accomplished through a team effort of a total force association. The plane is an asset of the 126 ARW and is maintained by members of the 906 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 126 ARW and 906 ARS for this accomplishment."