Only on 8: WFLA flies with U.S. Air Force ahead of Tampa Bay Airfest 2020

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Airman Cade Stinson is calm and composed with his hand on the control stick in the back of a KC-135 that took off from MacDill Air Force Base Thursday morning.

“There’s no real thought that goes through my head of how I’m feeling,” Stinson told 8 On Your Side. “It’s where is he, what am I doing, trying to stay focused the whole time.”

Stinson has done are refuel missions many times before, most recently almost daily during a three month deployment to the Middle East.

“Much, much hotter,” he said. “Too hot for comfort.”

8 On Your Side was the only Tampa TV station to fly with Stinson and his crew for a training mission with a cargo aircraft from Joint Base Charleston.

This training flight comes 30 days before the KC-135 will be one of the many different aircraft to take part in Tampa Bay Airfest 2020.

Stinson explained how he operates the boom that transfers fuel to other aircraft.

“It’s like a metal straw inside of another metal straw and put it inside the top of the C-17 and attempt to pass gas to them so they don’t have to land and get extra fuel,” he said.

The massive C-17 is large enough to fit three helicopters or airdrop 100 paratroopers.

8 On Your Side’s camera was rolling as Stinson connected the boom with the C-17 flying below the KC-135.

After the hour-long mission, it was time to return to Tampa Bay. 8 On Your Side was inside the cockpit as the two pilots touched down at MacDill.

In 30 days, the gates at the base will open to the public for the air show on March 28 and 29.

The U.S. Navy Blue Angels are this year’s headliner.

The event is free to the public.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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