Sources: Crew in KC-135 crash from Fairchild

Author: Rob Kauder, Internet Content Manager,
Published On: May 03 2013 01:52:49 PM PDT   Updated On: May 03 2013 11:48:38 PM PDT
KC-135 crash Kyrgyzstan

Multiple sources in Wichita, Kan. and Spokane are reporting the crash of a KC-135 in Kyrgyzstan Friday involved a McConnell Air Force Base tanker being flown by a Fairchild Air Force Base flight crew.

Neither of the bases has officially confirmed the home base of the aircraft or the fate of the air crew.

Three sources at Fairchild AFB independently confirmed to KXLY Friday that the crew members aboard the KC-135, tail number AMC 388877, were from Fairchild. A separate source reported earlier in the day to KWCH, the CBS affiliate in Wichita, that the aircraft was from McConnell but the crew was from Fairchild.

Pictures of wreckage from the crash scene show the tail section with "McConnell" and "388877" on it.

US Air Forces Central Command confirmed there were three airmen aboard the KC-135 when it went down, adding that "the status of the three crew members is unknown."

Since Fairchild Air Force Base first received the refueling mission in 1957, four KC-135s and more than 60 airmen have been killed in mishaps over the last 50 years.

The last crash involving a Fairchild KC-135 was in January 1999, when a Fairchild-based tanker with the 141st Air Refueling Wing went down during a training exercise at the NATO airbase at Geilenkirchen, Germany. The aircraft, dubbed "Esso 77", was performing touch and gos and had just taken off from the airbase when it crashed into a heavily wooded area.

Washington Air National Guardsmen Major David Fite, Captain Ken Thiele, Major Matthew Laiho and Technical Sergeant Rich Visintainer were killed in the crash. A memorial was dedicated in their memory near the crash site in 2000.

Prior to that, there were three other crashes involving KC-135s around Fairchild Air Force Base: