- Former Cape cop faces stealing-by-deceit charge (6/18/17)3
- Jackson scores high in survey of residents; better streets, Aldi are high priorities (6/20/17)4
- Jackson woman accused of trying to hit another with her truck (6/15/17)
- Marble Hill mayor hires city manager without board approval (6/21/17)1
- Police search for two suspects in abduction, robbery case; victim found unharmed in Scott County field (6/16/17)1
- Cape man faces charges of victim tampering (6/18/17)
- Racial disparity of traffic stops inches upward in Cape (6/15/17)6
- Police: Cape abduction may have ties to Georgia homicide (6/18/17)5
- 3 drown in Southeast Missouri in three days (6/16/17)
- Two men accused of selling meth to undercover cop (6/22/17)
Refueling is sky tango for F-16 fighters
OVER NORTHERN SAUDI ARABIA -- Its lethal payload of bombs already delivered, a U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter refueled for the ride home, performing a delicate sky tango with a KC-10 tanker plane.
Master Sgt. Rod McClary, the boom operator controlling the pipe that feeds fuel to the jet, asked the other pilot whether the bombs reached the target.
"With these laser weapons, it's tough to miss," the pilot replied.
Just miles from the Iraqi border, the skies over northern Saudi Arabia were crowded with tankers and fighter jets. Their radios squawked code words and call signs as the United States and Britain unleashed an intense aerial bombardment Friday in the war against Iraq.
"You guys picked the right night to show up," another F-16 pilot said.
McClary is a 38-year-old reservist from Philadelphia whose regular job is in computer networking. His five-man tanker crew is based in Burgas, Bulgaria, with the 409th Air Expeditionary Group, flying their first combat mission of the U.S.-led strike.
Before McClary headed out, he donned his "good luck hat" -- a stovepipe green-and-white leprechaun hat with shamrocks. Then, just after the sky turned black, the fighters started arriving.
The F-16s approached with red and green lights on their wings, sweeping in from under the refueling plane at an altitude of 22,000 feet. Two other tankers below flew the same pattern at staggered altitudes -- waiting in a designated "box" of airspace for fighters.
Other refueling "boxes" have been designated along the Iraqi border.
McClary crossed the Mediterranean Sea, then headed over Egypt and up through Jordan to take his position.