Updated: Hornet runs out of gas, and the Air Force comes to the rescue

Loadmasters from the 36th Airlift Squadron guide a fuel truck into a C-130 Hercules at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, on Feb. 13, 2013. The airmen transported the refueling truck to Rota Island in order to recover an F/A-18 Hornet that diverted due to weather conditions. (Airman 1st Class Marianique Santos/Air Force)

This Hornet pilot couldn’t call AAA, so they called the Air Force.

Earlier this month, an F/A-18 Hornet that was participating in exercise Cope North 13 had to divert to Rota Island in the Marianas Archipelago due to weather. Only there was a bit of a problem: The airstrip on Rota Island didn’t have equipment to refuel fighter aircraft and, because of the weather problems, the jet couldn’t divert to an appropriate location, according to an Air Force release.

So the Air Force came to the rescue.

Airmen from units that were deployed for the exercise at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, loaded an R-11 refueling truck onto a C-130 Hercules and flew to the island on Feb. 13 to rescue the Hornet.

“There is not a drop of jet fuel on Rota,” said Senior Master Sgt. Kasey Saunders, the 36th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of fuels distribution, in a release. “There were civilian aircraft, but those don’t run on the same fuel as our aircraft, and the only way to refuel an F/A-18 is with a refueling truck.”

The logistics were tough. The truck had to transport empty for weight and safety purposes. Then, the Hercules had to make another trip to transport more equipment to transfer fuel from the C-130 to the truck.

The crews filled up the Hornet’s tank, packed up and went back to Guam.

The experience was “a testament to the effective interoperability between bases, branches of service and regional partners within the Asia-Pacific,” the release states.

Update: As a kind reader pointed out, the Hornet did in fact belong to the U.S. Navy.


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