185th Air Refueling Wing airmen practice their skills without leaving the ground

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SIOUX CITY (KCAU) — New high tech tools are being used at Sioux City’s 185th Air Refueling Wing and it’s giving airmen the space to practice their refueling skills without ever leaving the ground.

Jason Stoos, a Master Sgt. and boom operator, explained how this technology allows him to practice a dangerous job that requires focus.

“Our job is to do the in-flight so jets can take off with the maximum payload and then we refuel them when they’re airborne so they can go on and do their mission, said Stoos.

It’s a dangerous job that comes with many risks. That’s why Stoos spends hours practicing the procedures, not in the air, but on a simulator safely stationed on at the 185th.

“We have a system that we can use on the ground here called the Boom Operator Simulator System or [BOSS] for short. We use this for our training on any given day without having to go out to a jet,” said Stoos.

The $1.2 million system is three-years-old and looks identical to the air boom pod inside the KC-135 refueler.

Jay Doran, a 30-year retired boom operator, described how the changes serve as a reminder of how times have changed.

“Prior to having a simulator, we had no way to do a lot of our emergency procedures,” said Doran, “We had to do things in a tabletop environment where we would talk about our emergencies but here, we can add them emergencies in.”

The BOSS simulator feels so real, it can mimic the noise level of a flight. From the outside, an operator can throw curveballs, create thunderstorms, and add aggressive turbulence.

While practice does make perfect, the device also saves thousands of gallons in gas and allows more access to part-time flyers.

“We can train as many people as we need at any given time. We have part-timers that can’t get around to flying all the time but they can come in here and do their training on the simulators,” said Stoos. “That way, they can knock out some of their requirements and stay current.”

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