An Old Duck Migrates West

The oldest KC-135 tanker in the Air Force’s fleet was set for a one-way flight into mothballs May 28, ending a 50-year career that began when Dwight Eisenhower was President and just two months after the Soviets launched Sputnik into space. The Topeka Capital Journal reported May 28 that the aircraft, dubbed Mallard 1, entered service on Dec. 18, 1957. According to the newspaper, it was due to depart the Kansas Air National Guard’s 190th Air Refueling Wing at Forbes Field in Topeka for the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., for storage at the boneyard. With the departure of Mallard 1, the wing’s E fleet is down to eight. Two more airframes are scheduled to be flown to retirement in the next few weeks, leaving the base with six for the remainder of the year until Congress grants USAF the authority to phase out more of its aged KC-135Es, the newspaper said.