America! Yeah!

I’m a patriotic girl. “The Star Spangled Banner” makes me tear up and “God Bless America” makes me blubber like a toddler whose ice cream fell off the cone.

I’m not saying I like to ride a lawnmower while shooting my rifle in the air or anything, I’m just saying I love America and I love the men and women who fight for America.

After my recent post showing the patch of the 171st ARW Steel City Airmen for the 2011 Wings Over Pittsburgh show, I received an email from reader Amy who wrote:

My dad is retired from the 171st Air Refueling Wing, you’ve probably driven past it a million times on the way to the airport.  They’re an in air refueling wing, which if you think about it is pretty amazing – they’re flying in the air, and still manage to lower the fuel boom to connect with a second plane, mid-air, to refuel mid flight.  I’m lucky if I don’t spill the gas on my car when I’m at Get Go. (Here are some photos of that happening in flight).

Anyhow, everyone out at the 171st are proud Pittsburgers.  I’ve had the luxury to spend a lot of time with those folks, and they’re all awesome.  You might like to see how their pride in Pittsburgh is shown through their patches and the nose art on the planes.

She shared these photos with me and you just have to see them, you guys.

First, the refueling taking place in air.

Other tanker refueling the A-10

I’m always astounded that anyone ever even thought to attempt such a thing. Way back when, had I been in a room when a military planner said, “How’s about we just find a way to fill ’em up while they’re flying 500 miles an hour?” I’d have stood up and slammed my hands on the table and shouted, “WITCHCRAFT!”

That’s just my standard answer to things I don’t understand.

In the cockpit. You can see their badass patches here:


Even their headphones sport their Pittsburgh pride:

Boom operator



On the nose art on the plane on the left, it looks like it’s got the Steelers and the Penguins on there, so I assume the lower one is the Buccos of Suckitude:


Other Pittsburgh-flavored nose art as found on the 171st ARW website:

Kennywood themed!





Steelers themed!

Okay. I lied. I want to ride my dad’s lawnmower and shoot his BB gun into the air while waving a Terrible Towel and screaming, “USA! USA! USA!”

And my parents’ elderly neighbors will look out their windows and be all, “Crap. I think Sarah Palin moved in next door.”


  1. Cassie
    April 11, 2012 1:57 pm

    Love this!

    I want to fly in the autographed one. Can I , can I, please!?

  2. Pensgirl
    April 11, 2012 2:19 pm

    No snark, honest question: are the patch and headphones nods to the Steelers or to the general steel heritage? It’s a fine point but one that has me curious.

  3. Butcher's Dog
    April 11, 2012 2:23 pm

    I always tear up during the National Anthem. Always. Deal with it! And, yes…I’m just as much of a badass in real life as I seem writing in this blog. So deal with that, too. Just sayin’.

  4. WI Mom
    April 11, 2012 4:12 pm

    I sent the picture of the patch to my brother, who is high up in the Air Force, and he said that this squadron is on Obama’s chopping block.

  5. B
    April 11, 2012 4:21 pm

    Fantastic photos– what an awesome post!

  6. Calamity Jane
    April 11, 2012 7:02 pm

    I had the privilege of flying with these guys from the base here to Davis-Monthan AFB in Arizona. It was so cool watching the fighters approach the tanker aircraft from below and the tech specialist guide the boom into the fuel intake (gas cap)…..Believe me, it’s a wild feeling watching 2 aircraft 20 feet apart crusing at 30,00 feet!….These 2 aircraft were so close that you could just about tell what color the fighter pilot’s eyes were!

    Thanks for the post Ginny!

  7. Steelertom
    April 11, 2012 8:47 pm

    I work @ the Boneyard @ Davis-Monthan, and quite often, I see a couple of the retired KC-135s here in storage from Pittsburgh. If your interested, I can take pictures of them. Sure the paint is faded a bit but they still show the Pittsburgh awesomeness! E-mail me if your interested…..

  8. Kelly
    April 11, 2012 9:24 pm

    Thanks for the great post. My husband is a member of the 171st…they aren’t on the chopping block-the 911th is. They are often confused as they sit next to each other. You should go and see the planes in person. They are enormous mid-air gas stations.

    • Bill Bergey
      April 12, 2012 9:13 pm

      Great post. I have more pics and videos, but cant figure how to post them. They are amazing planes too for being 50+ years old.
      Friend me on facebook and I can share some with you. Message you found me here

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