I've been on a fair share of flights in my life. I've sat in dozens of aisle seats, window seats, roomy exit rows, and countless, miserable middle seats, stuffed between two foul-smelling strangers.
But nothing beats the jump seat in the Aerial Refueling Operator's Station on a KC-10 Extender, lovingly referred to as 'Big Sexy' when compared with the older, smaller, (unsexy?) KC-135s.
I recently flew a sortie on the KC-10 up the California coast with the 6th Air Refueling Squadron to refuel the United States Air Force's E-4, dubbed America's 'Doomsday Plane' because of its use in times of national emergency or, god forbid, nuclear war.
The E-4 is big, bad, and, deceivingly, looks a lot like planes you may have flown on before, aside from the fact that this bird’s full of war fighting technology that, in case of national emergency or nuclear war, the plane would provide a "highly survivable command, control and communications center for the President, Secretary of Defense, and Joint Chiefs of Staff," according to Air Force officials.
So, what's it like flying two massive aircraft within feet of one another? Hear from the pilots and boom operators who provide "increased global mobility for U.S. armed forces" as they meet the Air Force's mysterious E-4 over the skies of California.