Tanker Pilot, Lessons from the Cockpit. By Mark Hasara. New York: Threshold Editions, 2017. Photographs. Acknowledgments. Pp. xiv, 304. $26.00 ISBN 978-1-5011-8166-5
For anyone interested in military aviation, this is a "must read" book. The author, Mark Hasara, Lt Col, USAF (Ret) and pilot call sign "Sluggo," offers an exciting inside look at the aircraft refueling world. Reading Hasara's personal stories and tactical incidents from over 20 years of active flying missions is illuminating! And these included missions during the Cold War, Desert Shield, Desert Storm, the Iraq War, and Enduring Freedom. I never realized how little I knew and how much I underappreciated the role of our USAF tanker fleet. The reader learns early in the book that nearly all military aircraft operations anywhere in the world must have air refueling tankers available and integrated into any mission plan in order to succeed. One quickly identifies with the air refueling motto: "Nobody kicks ass without our gas--nobody."
The book starts with a very positive and supportive foreword by Rush Limbaugh. Hasara flew and operated the Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker throughout his career from the late 1980s to 2003. Each chapter begins with appropriate "world celebrity quotes" and ends with "Lessons from the Cockpit." Hasara includes some excellent photographs which he took over the years. Some of his most interesting stories come from refueling aircraft of different countries. Different procedures, different languages, and various levels of training all add up to challenging situations. One such incident involved the "brute force disconnect" by an F-15 of the Royal Saudi Air Force which inadvertently broke off the nozzle from the refueling boom. The pilot asked, "We make air mess, no?" A good sense of humor is valuable in situations like this.
For me, a very interesting piece of history came from the KC-135 being called the "water wagon." The...