I am a trainee at EATC and I received the amazing opportunity to board the Dutch KDC-10 tanker this April 2019. As an aviation and military history enthusiast, it was a day I will never forget.
After the check-in procedure, I walked onto the platform facing at reaching distance two huge tankers, and three more in the distance. I was impressed by the sheer size of these aircraft. It makes you wonder how it is possible for such a machine to get airborne.
Time for take-off! Eindhoven became smaller and smaller underneath us. We set course up to the North Sea, the training area for EART 2019. After arriving in this airspace it was time to wait for the fighters to come find us to get air-to-air refuelled. The suspense was killing me.
And there they were : four Polish fighters! One at a time they got air-refuelled by the KDC-10’s boom, the others waiting immobile for their turn. The view from my window was absolutely breathtaking! Although the weather condition were far from ideal, the pilots did an amazing job in keeping their fighters straight. They showed excellent skills and professionalism and completed their mission flawlessly.
All along this incredible trip the Dutch crew informed us on technical and practical challenges of air-to-air refuelling. I felt proud to be part of this world, EATC and the EART training. I am grateful to the team of the EATC and the tanker and fighter crews for their commitment and for providing me with the opportunity of a lifetime.