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Celebrating a century of game-changers: B-52s and KC-135s scheduled to fly over Grand Forks

  • Published
  • By 319th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
  • 319th Reconnaissance Wing

The United States Air Force invites the American public to join on June 27 to observe flyovers of our air refuelers above communities across the country and around the world, honoring 100 years of aerial refueling excellence during Operation Centennial Contact.

The East Leg of the flight formation will flyover the University of North Dakota at approximately 3:15 p.m., continue to Grand Forks International Airport at approximately 3:20 p.m. and end at Grand Forks Air Force Base at approximately 3:22 p.m., and will include two KC-135 Stratotankers and two B-52 Stratofortress aircraft. 

The flyover will also pay tribute to the 319th Reconnaissance Wing’s former B-52 and KC-135 missions.

In May of 1960, the Stratotanker mission began at Grand Forks AFB with the 905th Aerial Refueling Squadron assigned to the 319th Aerial Refueling Wing. The 319th Bombardment Wing organized at Grand Forks AFB in February of 1963 and organized under Strategic Air Command. The B-52 mission remained active until December of 1986, when the wing welcomed the B-1B Lancer.

In 1993, the base transferred to Air Mobility Command and welcomed the addition of three more refueling squadrons making the 319th ARS the Air Force’s first super tanker wing. The KC-135 mission was active under the 319th ARW for 50 years, and deactivated December 31, 2010, with the addition of the RQ-4 Global Hawk mission.

Today’s U.S. Air Force air refueling capabilities deliver unrivaled rapid global reach for U.S. forces and our Allies and partners through the mobility air forces fleet of KC-46, KC-135 and KC-10 tankers. Aerial refueling serves as a force multiplier, increasing the speed, range, lethality, flexibility and versatility of combat aircraft. Tankers also carry cargo and passengers, perform aeromedical evacuations, and enable strategic deterrence for the United States.

“As we embark on the next 100 years of air refueling, we will continue to strengthen our air mobility excellence,” said Gen. Mike Minihan, the commander of Air Mobility Command. “We must leverage the remarkable capabilities of air refueling to preserve peace, protect freedom, and bring hope to the world. As Mobility Airmen, we write the next chapter of air refueling.”

Contact the 319th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs Office with questions at or 701-747-5018.