Man vs. machine


Presumably the weather in Michigan was a bit nicer. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Paul Clifford)

The Battle Creek Air Show and Balloon Festival in Michigan earlier this month seemed to have a little bit of everything. The Navy’s Blue Angels performed. So did an Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle. Dozens of hot-air balloons took flight. Kids could see white tigers on display.

The show also offered something you don’t see too often: One guy pulling a KC-135 by himself.

Strongman Mark Kirsch pulled the refueling tanker 120 feet before an awed crowd, according to The Enquirer of Battle Creek, Mich. (For those keeping track, the tanker was assigned to the 54th Air Refueling Squadron from Altus Air Force Base.)

Kirsch also showed off a bit of showman’s flair during the air show. He called the odds of everything working — cooperative weather, Pentagon approval and the pull itself — “one in a million.” He name-dropped a local casino. And he amped up the crowd by placing Battle Creek in the history books.

“When you say ‘Battle Creek,’ I’ll say, ‘Yeah, that’s the first ever United States Air Force airplane (pull),'” Kirsch told the newspaper. “You can’t ever take that away from me or Battle Creek.”

The strongman ain’t done yet. According to The Enquirer, he plans on pulling a C-130 in New York in September.

According to an Air Force release, the event was the “first officially sanctioned U.S. Air Force active duty jet to be pulled by a strongman in history.”

So that begs the question: How many unsanctioned jet pulls have there been?


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