This Is How F-16 Fighting Falcons Leave the Gas Station

F-16 Fighting Falcons breaking away from KC-135 Stratotanker 22 photos
Photo: USAF/Staff Sgt. Joseph Pick
F-16 Fighting Falcons breaking away from KC-135 StratotankerF-16 Fighting Falcon over U.S. Central Command area of responsibilityF-16 Fighting Falcon over the Nevada Test and Training RangeF-16 Fighting Falcons chasing KC-135 StratotankerF-16C Fighting FalconF-16 Fighting FalconF-16C Fighting Falcon taking off from New JerseyAggressor Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon taking offRoyal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16Royal Moroccan Air Force F-16F-16 Fighting Falcon in Operation Inherent ResolveF-16 Fighting Falcons over Niceville, Florida
When speaking about refueling, most of us immediately create in our minds the image of cars at gas stations. That’s probably because we do this so often that this image has been deeply burned into our brains.
But there are other, more spectacular ways of refueling. Not for cars, of course, because a regular gas station on dry land (or, more recently, a recharging station) is all you can get with ground vehicles.

If you ask us, the most spectacular way of filling the tanks of a machine is aerial refueling. Dating back as far as the 1920s, the idea of putting fuel into planes while they are still flying has gained so much traction in recent years the U.S. Air Force is probably dependent on it by now.

It’s extremely dangerous, too, but pilots, especially American ones, have been doing it for so long that it has been deeply burned into their brains. For those involved, pilots of fighter jets and bombers or crew of tankers, aerial refueling has become something of a second nature, just like pulling up at the pump is for everyday drivers.

We’ve already seen (or heard, to be more precise) just how relaxed these guys can get while getting the fill of their tanks. They talk about hobbies, riddles, stars and space, but most of the time about food.

At the other end of the line, crews of aerial tankers like to take photos of the airplanes pulling in behind them. And this is how we get stunning images like the one we have here, an instance of how F-16 Fighting Falcons leave the gas station after they’re done.

The photo was snapped back in mid-February over the Red Sea, where the planes, deployed with the 332nd Air Expeditionary Wing, were on a live-fly mission meant to test “information distribution capabilities during a simulated unmanned aircraft system threat scenario.”

They’re seen here in a break away maneuver that took them clear of the KC-135 Stratotanker (340th Expeditionary Air Refueling Squadron) that pumped them full of gas.
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Editor's note: Gallery shows other F-16s.

About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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