BANGOR, Maine — Gov. Paul LePage and first lady Ann LePage boarded a flight on Tuesday at the Air Bangor Air National Guard Base to observe the 101st Air Refueling Wing in action. They witnessed what the 101st Wing does best — refuel aircraft in flight.
“This was amazing to see up close and personal,” said the governor. “To get a bird’s-eye view traveling at over 400 miles per hour, establish contact with another jet and transfer fuel is an impressive sight to see. The men and women on this flight were complete professionals. Our country is in good hands.”
“It is a great day for the Maine Air Guard to have our governor fly with us,” said Col. John D’Errico, wing commander. Those aboard the orientation flight included Col. Doug Farnham, aircraft commander; Maj. Bill Dunn, co-pilot; Chief Master Sgt. Jay Ellingsen, boom operator; and Chief Master Sgt. Bob Phair, boom operator.
On Tuesday, four F-16s from the Vermont Air National Guard were refueled with 1,000 gallons of fuel apiece. It was the first time a governor had taken part in an orientation flight since Gov. Angus King in December 1995.
The federal mission of the 101st Air Refueling Wing is to employ air refueling, airlift, Aerospace Expeditionary forces and Expeditionary Combat Support forces to military operations worldwide. The 101st processes more jet fuel than all 88 Air National Guard units in the country. Since October 2010, the unit has flown 186 missions in support of the war effort, and unloaded 1.9 million gallons of fuel in the air. The wing has received more than 750 transient aircraft onto the Bangor base and provided 1.7 million gallons of fuel on the ground.
“The work our Maine Air National Guard is doing is a job that many of us aren’t aware of, but it’s a mission that is incredibly important,” Ann LePage said. “To take part in this flight was an eye-opening experience to the different responsibilities of our military.”