Something in the Air

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Phone callers to NewsCenter 11 expressed fear, ranging from whether or not there might have been a hijacking taking place to whether it could be a 9-11 type occurrence.

The same evening NewsCenter 11's Chief Photographer, Joe Norwood, was in Butler, Alabama, on assignment when he heard planes overhead. He raised his camera and this is what he saw, a KC-135 refueling aircraft linked to and refueling a C-130. Our callers were right. They had seen something, although nothing threatening.

The planes also flew over Meridian, which brought about the phone calls.

Wednesday we contacted a spokesman for the local refueling wing, the 186th, who told us they knew nothing about it.

On Thursday Lt. Colonel Randy Pope of the local wing confirmed they had no knowledge of the flight and where it originated.

"On Tuesday night no we didn't, but that would not be unusual if another unit was doing the refueling as it was in this case. They wouldn't need to notify us that they were doing a refueling in this area," said Pope.

There are approximately 21 refueling wings similar to the 186th in this country. We questioned about a possible rule restricting refueling flights over populated areas. There is no such rule.

"The refueling could take place anywhere over a populated area. Of course you have altitude restrictions. In this case they were refueling a C-130 aircraft which the minimum would be 5,000 feet without special authorization," said Pope. "These people were authorized to refuel between seven and 9,000 feet."

So this is what happened, a training flight from a refueling unit which chose to do its practicing over East Mississippi and West Alabama, and then went home, wherever that is.


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