Air Guard refueling trucks provide alternative fuel to Thunderbirds

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Tyrell Heaton
  • 113th Wing Public Affairs
Refueling trucks from the 113th Wing, District of Columbia Air National Guard will provide an alternative fuel to the Air Force Thunderbirds here, May 20 to 21. Air National Guard personnel from the 113th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant team will be responsible for providing the alternative fuel blend for aircrafts 5 and 6 of the U.S. Air Force's Demonstration Team, also known as the Thunderbirds. The Thunderbirds are scheduled to perform during the 2011 Joint Services Open House making them the first Department of Defense aerial demonstration team to fly on an alternative fuel. "Usually Trend Western handles all the refueling for the JSOH, so when we got the request we were thrilled to support the Thunderbirds, especially as a Guard unit," said Tech. Sgt. Anthony Bowman, 113 LRS Fuels Lab technician. "They are a big reason why I joined the Air Force in the first place. I am a big believer in alternative energy and I'm glad to see that the Air Force has added bio-fuel to its resume of energy initiatives." The hydro-treated renewable jet fuel is a blend of regular Jet Propellant 8 (JP-8) fuel and a plant seed - camelina-based bio-fuel. The Air Force is also testing and evaluating biomass fuels derived from beef tallow and various waste oils and greases. The Air Force Petroleum Agency's Alternative Fuels Certification Office requested the support of the 113 LRS to use an R-11 refueling truck to refuel two of the Thunderbird's F-16C Fighting Falcon aircrafts. AFPET delivered 3,000 gallons of the bio-fuel to Joint Base Andrews and blended it with 3,000 gallons of JP-8 on site. The blend was re-circulated for 10 minutes. Samples were taken and analyzed at the Trend Western fuels laboratory at Joint Base Andrews. "It was the first time any of us had tested bio-fuel so it drew a good crowd," said Sergeant Bowman. "The lab results were virtually identical to JP-8." "Aircraft 5 and 6 conducted a practice with the fuel Friday and plan to fly the bio-fuel in Saturday's performance," said Maj. Kristin Haley, Thunderbird No. 12, Public Affairs officer. "The solo maneuvers display the maximum capabilities of the F-16 and flying the bio-fuel in their jets was the perfect choice." "The Air Force has always been a big driver in aviation technology and this only continues that great tradition," said Sergeant Bowman. "Several aircraft in the Air Force inventory are fully certified already and I wouldn't be surprised to start seeing this bio-fuel showing up on a grand scale, provided the logistics can be worked out to provide the kind of quantities needed to support a busy global mission." To date, the Air Force has tested and certified bio-fuel as a 50-percent blend with regular jet fuel in the A-10, F-15, C-17 and F-22 aircraft. Fleet-wide certification is on track for completion in 2013.