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Joint Base Andrews Features

NEWS | July 30, 2014

Fix 'em, Fly 'em, Fuel 'em

By Airman 1st Class Joshua R. M. Dewberry 11th Wing Public Affairs

Soaring 30,000 feet in the air, surrounded by 49 tons of aluminum and jet fuel, Tech Sgt. Chris McAlister watches the horizon curves behind him and the earth passing below. This is one perk for the 756th Airlift Squadron boom operator.

As an in-flight refueling boom operator, his job is to transfer fuel from one plane to another.

"My dad was in the navy for 20 years, always traveling around the world, so that developed my interest in the military early on," he said. "Now I have the best office in the Air Force."

The 756th is part of the Air Force Reserve's 459th Air Refueling Wing, an element of the total-force community here that flies and maintains KC-135 Stratotankers for conducting air refueling missions, helping the Air Force protect and project air and space power.

McAlister made this mission happen from the ground for years before cross-training as a boom operator.

"I worked in aircraft maintenance for 22 years prior to this," said McAlister. "After watching these guys go up many times, I eventually decided I wanted to see it first-hand."

McAlister has been a boom operator for approximately one year.

"Being able to do my job with the world in view is a great feeling," said McAlister.

The perks of flying drew McAlister to the Air Force immediately.

"I joined the Air Force right out of high school because I wanted to fly and travel the world," said McAlister. "I've been able to do that with both the aircraft maintenance and operations aspect of my career."

McAlister says he has always loved flying. This passion for aviation has led him to pursue his own private pilot's license.

"I went from fixing planes to fueling them, the next step is flying them," said McAlister.