An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Cannon behind the scenes: fueling the flight

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Alexxis Pons Abascal
  • 27th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
"We are a shop that never closes, even on holidays or during training days," said Staff Sgt. Christopher Bates, 27th Special Operations Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels distribution supervisor. "We get the job done, 24/7 on the flightline, no matter what."

The 27 SOLRS fuels flight supports all of the 27th Special Operations Wing aircraft, ground equipment and vehicles at Cannon Air Force Base, N.M. and Melrose Air Force Range. If there is a need for fuels, the 27 SOLRS fuels flight will be there.

"We have daily checkpoints, roughly 83, that our Refuel Maintenance Team is in charge of," Bates said. "They are a pivotal entity in our flight; they are the ones who make sure all our trucks are operational."

"It is imperative that we pay meticulous attention to detail," said Staff Sgt. Robert Sheehan, 27 SOLRS NCO-in charge of fuels service center. "If we don't do our job right, nobody gets off the ground, period."

To ensure operation success and security, equipment must be serviceable and functioning properly so that when base personnel arrive on scene, teams can ensure aircraft are ready to take off at a moment's notice.

"We average more than 5 million gallons of fuel to roughly 3,800 aircraft per year," Bates said. "That comes out to more than 420,000 gallons to more than 310 aircraft per month."

Fuels flights have a standard, set forth by Air Force Special Operations Command, which allows for a 30 minute window between receiving an initial call of an aircraft in need of refueling and then getting a team to reach the aircraft on the flightline.

"We are able to do this in about 11 minutes," Bates boasted of the 27 SOLRS fuels flight. "That's about 60 percent more efficient than the standard!"

Fuel demand at Cannon AFB will continue to increase to meet mission needs. As more aircraft come to the 27 SOW, the fuels flight will continue to provide its expert service where it's needed most.

"We have specialized teams that are capable of landing in austere environments, and can push fuel from C-130s to other aircraft utilizing specialized pumping units," Bates said. "All of this is done while aircraft engines are still running. Risks do increase any time you deal with fuels and running aircraft, but we perform our jobs to a very safe degree."

This unique forward area refueling point capability is sustained specifically by the fuels flight here. Cannon's fuel flight Air Commandos are able to train and support fellow service members Air Force-wide on combat critical ground refueling techniques and tactics in remote and hostile areas.

"The base doesn't move without us," Sheehan said. "Our job isn't just about pumping gas; it's about mission support and readiness."