BENGALURU: When they are not demonstrating their skills and prowess of their flying machines at the ongoing aerospace exposition, pilots from the United States Air Force (USAF) are busy exploring pubs and restaurants in the city.
“The food here is great and I love butter chicken curry,’’ USAF pilot Alex Trana told Express. She flies the KC-135, a massive aircraft which does mid-air refuelling for USAF fighters jets like F-15s and F-16s. “I love going out here in the city. We went to many places, including Lalbagh, Bangalore Palace and saw the Shiva statue (on Old Airport Road). It was really nice, I have never seen anything like that before,’’ she said.
The Stratotanker (KC135) aircraft that she flies was flown in from the Kadena USAF base in Japan for the air show. “We had to do mid-air refuelling multiple times,’’ she said. The maximum take-off weight of the aircraft is 1,46,000 kg and it can fly up to 500 miles per hour.
Trana had flown the tankers over conflict zones in Afghanistan.
According to her, mid- air refuelling is not a complicated task, but can be scary during bad weather when the fighter can’t see them or when they are dodging thunderstorms.
The normal altitude at which refuelling is done is between 20,000 and 25,000 feet and fighters come as close as 45 feet.
“The scariest part is having so much of fuel and not being able to get rid of it and we have to land immediately (emergency situation). Fuel leak is another scary situation. However, I have never faced such situations,’’ she added.
She is visiting India for the first time and wanted to see Taj Mahal. “I really wanted to see the Taj Mahal, but could not,” she said.