The things you see when you look up

Yesterday I was on my deck and just happened to look up (ok, I do that a lot ) and see two airliners flying in tandem. I grabbed my camera and took some snaps as they flew over.

Barely pulled any detail, I was shooting a sigma 400mm with a 2x teleconvertor about straight up, hand-held. These are crops from the originals.

Looks like a KC-10 refuelling a 707-300 variant of some sort, which I can’t ID. It is not an E-6B, C-18A/B, E-18B, TC-18E/F (wrong engines), E8-C JSTARS lacks the larger nose.

It has an extended nose and belly pod, blue or black stripe high on tail. I can’t find photos of an E8-A.

Its the same type of aircraft being refueled as photographed on this page:

Any ideas on what it is?

I found what it is…

Its an RC-135

Yup, you got it!
Nice catch, while KC-10s darken the skies over my neck of the woods, all of the A/A refueling takes place over the ocean. You must live under a restricted area or MOA.

FYI, the dark circles in the sky areas are dust on your lens/teleconverter/sensor. You should clean them.

(Been doing a lot of lens swapping lately, thanks)

I’m living in Bothell, WA, pretty much everything flies over here, AFAIK its not restricted, because KPAE, KSEA, KRNT and KBFI stuff flies over all day. Just got lucky I guess.

Map of flight path

Awesome! We have a High-Flyers photographs thread which would be a good place to post one of those shots. :wink:

I just took a look at the charts for your area and you’re right, there is not restricted area overhead that location. Interesting, I wouldn’t have thought they would do refueling operations right over a class B area.

Check for the air refueling routes in your area.

So, basically, this looks like one tanker giving away fuel to another tanker, correct?

Consolidating the tankers is what we used to call it in the Navy…

And I found some…but not sure how current a chart this is: its marked 2003.


Judging by the google map and comparing the AR route, it appears you live near AR 356…

RC-135 isn’t a taker. LINK

Ooops, sorry, I didn’t read the thread closely enough…

Looks like an RC-135V (or W) Rivet Joint to me. Antennae under the fuselage, long nose etc…