USAF KC-135 tanker lands safely after having experienced auto pilot warning error over UK airspace


By Dario Leone
Oct 7 2017
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The KC-135 tanker was a transient aircraft from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey

A U.S. Air Force (USAF) KC-135 Stratotanker air-to-air refueller has declared an emergency over UK airspace.

The tanker crew squawked the emergency #7700 code after having departed from RAF Mildenhall.

According to the Flight Emergency monitoring service, the Boeing jet was at 11,000 feet and heading out towards the North Sea when it declared the emergency.

The Public Affairs Office at RAF Mildenhall, home of the 100th Air Refueling Wing (ARW), told MailOnline: ‘The KC-135 tanker was a transient aircraft from McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey. As soon as it took off, it declared an in-flight emergency after a few warning lights came on. The aircraft’s auto pilot threw a warning error so the pilot decided to return to Mildenhall.’

Fire and rescue teams were put on standby while the aircraft returned to the airbase, which is about 30 miles south of Kings Lynn.

USAF KC-135 tanker lands safely after having experienced auto pilot warning error over UK airspace

The aircraft landed safely at 12.07pm and the emergency teams were stood down.

Mechanics are now trying to troubleshoot the cause of the error message before the aircraft returns to service.

The KC-135 Stratotanker provides the core aerial refueling capability for the USAF and has excelled in this role for more than 60 years. This unique asset enhances the Air Force’s capability to accomplish its primary mission of global reach. It also provides aerial refueling support to Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and allied nation aircraft.

The KC-135 is also capable of transporting litter and ambulatory patients using patient support pallets during aeromedical evacuations. A cargo deck above the refueling system can hold a mixed load of passengers and cargo. Depending on fuel storage configuration, the KC-135 can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo.

KC-135R Print
This print is available in multiple sizes from – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. KC-135R Stratotanker 161st Air Refueling Wing, 197th Air Refueling Squadron “Copperheads”, 63-8038 – Arizona Air National Guard – Sky Harbor ANG Base, AZ

Photo credit: Master Sgt. Dave Nolan / U.S. Air Force and Flight Emergency

Artwork courtesy of

Additional source: U.S. Air Force

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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