Airlift Tanker Association 2023 Report

Welcome to the seventy-second episode of the Lessons from the Cockpit show! I’m your host Mark Hasara, former KC-135 pilot and aviation geek!

My wife Valerie and I attended Air Mobility Command’s Airlift Tanker Association 2023 Convention at the Gaylord Texan resort in Grapevine Texas this past week. The A/TA Convention aero and cyberspace Industry Exposition was fantastic and I wanted to mention a few things I experienced while walking the Industry Exposition Floor… like the Remote Vision System 2.0 now being retrofitted in the Boeing KC-46 Pegasus tanker. General Mike Minihan, commander of Air Moility Command gave an incredile speech on the status of the Mobility Air Forces or MAF. Did you know airlifters now have the capaility to become strike aircraft with new palletized weapons systems?

The Lessons from the Cockpit show is supported by the book Tanker Pilot, now on General Mike Minihan’s Leadership Library reading list. Tanker Pilot gives you a behind the scenes look at the planning and execution of air refueling operations during four wars and numerous other global events. Thirty-two pictures are included, taken during the events described in the book.

Our show is also supported by Wall Pilot, custom aviation art for the walls of your home, office, or hanger. There are 138 Ready-to-Print extremely detailed and exhaustively researched aircraft profiles of famous aircraft from World War II to modern fifth generation fighters and bombers. Wall Pilot creates custom aircraft profile drawings of your favorite aircraft with your name, tail number, flying unit, and weapons load in four, six, and eight foot long vinyl prints you can peel off and stick on any flat purpose.

One of the aircraft profiles auctioned off for the A/TA Scholarship fund was this 60th Air Mobility Wing KC-10A Extender from Travis Air Force Base. Aircrews, maintainers, and loaders signed a copy of this print for auction which was sold to a collector of custom aviation art.

The other aircraft profile auctioned off for the A/TA Scholarship fund was the 437th Airlift Wing C-17A Globemaster III named “Spirit of the Candy Bomber” in memory of Colonel Gail Halvorsen, the Berlin Candy Bomber, who passed away at the age of 101 last year. General Mike Minihan attended the memorial service for Colonel Halvorsen last summer when this aircraft was named after Colonel Halvorsen.

General Mike Minihan was the previous commander of the 19th Airlift Wing located at Little Rock Air Force Base Arkansas. This C-130J is assigned to the Air Force Reserve Component based at Little Rock AFB.

The best assignment of my Air Force career was flying with the 909th Air Refueling Squadron out of Kadena Air base Okinawa Japan. The 909th flew both KC-135A and -135R Models while I was assigned to the unit for five years in 1990 through 1995.

Attending Tailhook 23 this past August I brought this F-14D Tomcat print of BANDWAGON 101, the VF-31 Squadron Skipper Commander Paul Haas personal jet he flew during Operation Iraqi Freedom’s Shock and Awe air campaign.

My very good friend Captain Steve “Moose” Laukaitis was the Deputy Carrier Air Wing Commander of CAG Eight during the Shock and Awe air campaign and this was the VFA-87 War Party F-18C+ Hornet in his Air Wing on USS Theodore Roosevelt.

Thanks for downloading and listening to this and previous episodes of the Lessons from the Cockpit show, found on my website at

Check out this episode!

Mark Hasara

Have a great Day!

Sluggo Sends!

P.S. — If you’re reading my book Tanker Pilot: Lessons from the Cockpit, I’d really love to hear your thoughts in a review on Amazon here, I read them all.

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Christopher Hoctor
Christopher Hoctor
5 months ago

First time listener and enjoyed this! I used to attend the ata conventions every year and was fortunate to help with the planning in some ways.
Your aviation enthusiasm is electric! I am going to order your book, and hope you take a look at mine (if not already). (‘Voices from an Old Warrior’, free on line at the boom pod website).
I fell into the tanker business as a boom right out of basic. The more I grew in aviation business the more I admired the tanker and its story.
Good news about the 767/kc46. I have some early history/ info on it you might like to know, would love to share.
Best wishes,
Christopher J B Hoctor, PhD
Old dog, looking for shade.