In May, 2004, I was offered a great opportunity. I was invited to go on a Civic Leader Tour conducted by the 934th Airlift Wing -- the "Flying Vikings." We flew to Eglin Air Force Base in the Florida panhandle, and came back the next day. It was a fun trip and very informative, especially for someone with no time in the military (like me).

The 934th is based in the Twin Cities. It is an Air Force Reserve unit that flies C130H cargo aircraft, airdropping and airlanding cargo and people. As the 934th and its aircraft were very active at the time of the trip, we "borrowed" a plane from another unit to take us on the trip.

(above) Our plane was a converted DC10 passenger jet! The air force uses these for in-flight refueling, as you will see. They also haul cargo, and people.

(above) This photo was taken over the shoulder of the boom operator, the airman in charge of hooking up our plane's refueling boom to the receiving aircraft. We are looking out the lower part of the tail of the aircraft (yes, there is a windshield, it's not open to the elements). The F16 fighter jet scheduled to hook up with us for a demonstration had to tend to other business, so another refueling tanker met up with us for the demonstration. Yes, the tanker sometimes get refuled in flight, too.

(above) These specially equipped C130s are based at King Field. They are used for in-flight refueling of helicoptors in dangerous airspace.

(above) One of the interesting people I met on the trip was Stan "Killer" Kowalski, former pro wrestler. Stan is now an official with the Minnesota state VFW organization. He's on a mission to sign up active duty personnel for VFW membership. He's a hard one to refuse. Here, Killer pins a general.

(above) Yours truly plays Top Gun in the cockpit of an F16.

(above) Our group in a hangar with the F16.