U.S. Air Force KC-135 crash in Kyrgyzstan update

More details about the KC-135 Stratotanker belonging to the 22 ARW (Air Refueling Wing) from McConnell Air Force Base that crashed on May 3, 2013 in Kyrgyzstan have surfaced in the last hours.

The plane, operating from Manas crashed at 2:55 p.m. (Kyrgyzstan time) near Chaldovar, a village located about 100 miles west of the departure airport.

According to U.S. media outlets, the aircraft was on a refueling mission in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, with three crew members aboard: pilot, copilot and boom operator.

The aircraft, KC-135R 63-8877, had left McConnell AFB using callsign “RCH806” on Apr. 30. It made a stopover in RAF Mildenhall, on May 1 and departed again to Manas on the following day: the one on May 3 may have been the first operative sortie since its arrival in theater.

KC-135 crashed

The doomed plane during a recent visit to RAF Mildenhall. Image credit: Tony Lovelock

Bodies of the three crew members were recovered by search teams.

Although the nose section of the aircraft has not yet been found, few pieces of the plane, including a part of the tail, were found on a grassy field bordered by mountains; images of the two impact points seems to prove that the plane, or part of it, hit the ground at very high-speed.


Image credit: Kloop.kg

Some local eye witnesses told reporters that they heard an explosion and then saw the plane splitting into three pieces.

kc-135_crash 2

Image credit: Kloop.kg

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a 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 five books and contributed to many more ones.


    • The image is not photoshopped. The aircraft was previously assigned to Fairchild and the image was taken in that period at Mildenhall.

      • Bases Swap tails all of the time. After they go to depot MX they get reassigned sometimes to different wings. I imagine there was a huge tail shuffle after the 319 ARW stood down tanker ops at Grand Forks. My old SQ the 905th was last to leave.

    • Really? so instead of showing some respect for the crew that has passed, you would rather be a TROLL. Second are you even TOAD crew? The aircraft was 63-8877 a McConnell assigned aircraft.


  1. RIP, my fellow boom, et al. Sorrow here, NKAWTG…..N !

  2. That’s what I thought when I first saw the picture.
    But they’d reply that your plane almost fell on their heads.

  3. I served with Tre, before I separated in ’04. He was a good friend of mine. It’s good that I got to tell him I love him a while back, but it still doesn’t stop the pain I feel imagining the terror they endured. I remember the flight deck vividly and still til today, I dream about that plane and being in a similar situation. I always wake up….but Tre can’t. I love you, man.

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