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Thursday, 08 February 2018 18:19

Refueled: On board with the 101st Refueling Wing Pt. 1 Featured

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BANGOR - From the tower, to the ground, and to the operators inside the aircraft, every member of the 101st Air Refueling Wing is up and working on a cold January morning.

"Everybody on this base goes toward making this mission go," says Captain Nathan Ayer, a KC-135 pilot.

The day began with a mission brief at nearly 0900 hours.

Our two pilots and the boom operators sat and discussed their plans for the day.

"It can be sketchy from time to time," says Staff Sergeant Eric Grass, a boom operator for the Maine Air Guard. "A lot of different changes that can happen."

A routine maintenance check is conducted just after 1000 hours to avoid any unexpected surprises.

Then it is time for lift off.

Our pilots, Mark Ricci and Capt. Ayer, steered our more than 300,000 pound aircraft.

"We go through a lot of training," says Ayer. "We do this many times over the course of a year."

"By doing that it keep us sharp and as good as we are," he adds.

After ascending to an altitude of 28,000 feet, we head for our mission target on the western edge of New York to meet up with a gargantuan C5 out of Dover.

Our nearly 60-year-old KC-135 aircraft is no joke either, with the ability to hold nearly 200,000 pounds of fuel and 83,000 pounds of cargo.

However, it's what goes on at the back of the plane that is truly remarkable.

"I got nothing better to say, there's nothing better to do than my job," says Grass.

As the C5 approaches our aircraft, boom operators, Dylan Fitzpatrick and Ssgt. Eric Grass, manned the controls for the flying boom, belly down and ready to refuel.

Hoping to complete the mission and avoid a costly mistake.

Blake Lipton

Morning Anchor/Reporter
[email protected]

Blake Lipton joined the ABC 7 and Fox 22 news team in January of 2016 and is excited to start his career in television as a morning anchor at our station!

He is a recent graduate of the University of South Carolina and has previously interned with the ESPNU/SEC Network, Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and the WOLO sports department in Columbia, South Carolina during his time in school.

Blake also worked with the Weather Channel to help cover the historic South Carolina floods in the fall of 2015.

While most of his experience is in sports, Blake is thrilled for the opportunity to host the morning show at Fox ABC Maine and become a more well-rounded journalist and storyteller.

When he is not anchoring or reporting, Blake enjoys hiking, reading and talking anything football. He is also a fan of coffee and hip-hop music.

Feel free to reach out to him with story ideas at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter at @Blake_Lipton for the latest updates on everything Maine!