Dr. Hank Alviani, associate professor of music and director of choral and vocal studies at Clarion University, participated this summer in the orientation flight program with the 171st Air Refueling Wing located at Greater Pittsburgh International Airport in Coraopolis.
He spent three hours on board a KC-135 in-flight refueling plane, a converted Boeing 717. During the training mission, which took a route west of Lexington, Kent., he observed a boom operator transfer fuel from the KC-135 to a C-17 cargo plane traveling thirty feet below at 26,000 feet elevation and 400 knots. He also had an opportunity to operate the 20-foot boom and its telescoping extension.
The program is designed to communicate the wing’s mission to a variety of community leaders throughout Western Pennsylvania. Each year, the unit hosts a number of flights April through October welcoming educators, employers, clergy, veterans and ROTC students.
The intent of the program is to expose guests to the mission of the unit and pass on the multitude of opportunities that membership in the Pennsylvania Air National Guard offers.
Lt. Col. Don Accamando, spokesperson for the Wing says, “These missions provide the area’s most influential people a chance to experience first-hand what we do. When our guests return, they are honorary recruiters helping us spread the word.”
Guests are briefed by 171st Wing Commander, Brig. Gen. Roy E. Uptegraff, who offers a glimpse at the unit’s mission. The Orientation Flight program was resurrected in June 2005 following the September 11 attacks due in large part to security concerns.