Close call: E-3 AWACS almost collides with KC-135 tanker mid-air

It must have been one of the most frightening view in the career of the KC-135’s flying boom operator.

A NATO E-3  Sentry almost hit the tail of the tanker and its flying boom during air-to-air refueling operations. Not only the close proximity of the two large planes was dangerous, but also the evasive maneuver the pilot performs to avoid collision: the AWACS (airborne early warning and control plane) pulls several negative G-forces to gain quick separation from the refueler.

According to the user who uploaded it to Youtube, the aircraft was damaged and some crew members hurt as a consequence of the maneuver.

About David Cenciotti 4416 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

4 Comments

  1. This shows just how dangerous this kind of job can be. These guys have got major balls! Remember it was the Palomares Incident in 1966 when a B-52 loaded with four nukes and a KC-135 had a midair that resulted in a Broken Arrow alert and the end of Chrome Dome missions.

  2. proximity (prɒkˈsɪmɪtɪ)

    — n
    1. nearness in space or time
    2. nearness or closeness in a series

    Close proximity is a double-entendre. The close closeness?
    Pet peeve.

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