KHQ BLOG From Kaitlyn & Gabe - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Kaitlyn & Gabe In Kyrgyzstan; Read Their Blog & Watch The Slideshow

(Photo of Kaitlyn & Gabe after they landed in London) (Photo of Kaitlyn & Gabe after they landed in London)
KHQ BLOG:  Kaitlyn here on day 5 of our trip overseas-- I'm going to be honest, it is hard to top a day spent refueling F-15's and F-18's over Afghanistan like the one I had yesterday, but today was pretty close! Gabe and I focused most of our time all around the talented men and women behind the scenes here at the Transit Center at Manas and I've got to say it's extremely impressive.  When you fly on a plane as a passenger you don't really think about all of the hard work, dedication and determination by hundreds of people to make sure you fly safely. As I was shown today though, it is not an easy task at hand. Sometimes crew members say, the difference between a successful mission and complete engine failure comes down to one bolt on one part of a plane not tightened properly -- especially with the 60-year-old KC-135's here on the base that need constant care and attention.
 
But that's just the beginning of it all, I found out there is so much unseen work that keeps these planes in the air and supporting our troops down range, especially when it comes to the fueling of our nation's fighters. Crew members say the Transit Center pumps 300 to 450 thousand gallons of fuel into various aircrafts a day. At the peak of the surge in Afghanistan this past May, they say that number rose to nearly 550-thousand gallons. To manage that massive amount of  fuel, it takes over 4.2 million dollars worth of refueling trucks and 2.2 million dollars worth of mobility equipment, and guess what...  it's an Airmen from Fairchild that's in charge of this entire operation!
 
I will be working on a feature of this story for when I get back to the states next week, but in the meantime I'm gearing up for our humanitarian mission tomorrow!! The second half of my day was spent helping dozens of volunteers here at the base sort through the Inland Northwest's donations to get them ready for our mission!! We filled an entire tent full of coats, scarves, blankets and gloves. I'm talking huge piles stacked to the ceiling of materials to give to thousands of kids in local villages here in Kyrgyzstan. Our first stop tomorrow is the Vasilievskoe School outside of Bishkek and I can't wait to bring them your donations!!
 
PREVIOUS BLOGS:
KHQ Blog: Kaitlyn here, just got back from refueling F-18's and F-15's over Afghanistan! This was the most incredible experience of my life. The KC-135 was what they call a multi point refueling pod, so the fighters could refuel over the aircraft's wings or boom at the back of the plane. The plane is able to carry over 200,000 pounds of fuel to fighters in need, making a huge impact with every mission they complete. Our crew today was made up of all Fairchild Airmen, including one of only a handful of female boom operators.
 
The mission itself was scheduled to take 4 hours, but with the dynamic situation over Afghanistan everything changed in an instant. We went from dropping everything in order to re-fuel a B-1 Bomber, to needing to circle over Kabul from Kandahan in a matter of minutes to refuel an F-18 actively supporting a combat mission on the ground. We went on to fuel three other F-18's and two other F-15's. Lt. Col. Brad Hamby says over 50-percent of the refueling missions they fly support active combat on the ground, and without their help fighters would not be able to support troops in serious need.
 
While in the air we flew over Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan, each country had a completely different landscape that was absolutely breathtaking to see from the air. You can see it all in some of the pictures I sent back. Hope you enjoy them. Right now I'm working on putting together a feature story on this mission, it should air on KHQ Local News at 5 and 6 once I get back to the states. For now, I better catch some Z's before our next big day tomorrow! Goodnight all!!
 
KHQ BLOG: Kaitlyn here...Touched down in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan around 8pm local time after another long flight on the KC-135. Our thousands of coats are officially off the plane and being sorted here at that base. Colonel Sones told me in a de-briefing late this evening that we have enough coats to hold them over for several humanitarian missions!!! Way to go Inland Northwest!!! I found out our donations are going to a tiny village about 45 minutes away from Bishkek, specifically to a local school with hundreds of kids in need.
 
Before the humanitarian mission though, Gabe and I are gearing up to fly a refueling mission over Afghanistan tomorrow afternoon. It's a 10 hour long process that's expected to help at least 4 different fighters. The team we're going up with is from Fairchild, in fact I found out that Fairchild re-fuels over 30-percent of all missions over Afghanistan. It should be amazing to see these brave men at work!
 
These pictures are from our trip overseas on the KC-135, the flight line here at the Transit Center at Manas and also pictures of where we are staying on the base! Stay tuned for more updates!
 
 
KHQ BLOG: Kaitlyn here.. writing to you from the ever famous Royal Air Force Mildenhall in England. Gabe and I are just winding down after a LONG day of travel. We left Fairchild around 6:30 last night traveling up over Canada, through to the Arctic Circle, down over Greenland, Scotland and then to England landing around lunch time.. that's 4am to you guys in Spokane!
 
RAF Mildenhall was an extremely active base throughout World War II. The base withstood several attacks by Germany. In fact, by the end of the war, aircraft from RAF Mildenhall and its satellite airfields dropped over 23,000 tons of explosives, laid 2,000 mines in enemy waters, and flew over 8,000 sorties.
 
We fly to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan tomorrow morning and we can't wait! Look for more pictures and reports to come once we land....oh...and thank you for all of your thoughtful posts on our facebook page!
KHQ BLOG: Kaitlyn Bolduc here, getting ready to fly with the Fairchild Airmen to Bishkek, Kyrygzstan!! 2 days of travel on a KC-135... my i-Pod is fully charged!! I'm bringing two personal bags, and literally THOUSANDS of bags from people all over the Inland Northwest. The bags, part of KHQ's first ever Warming Kids Worldwide supply drive. I brought the thousands of bags to Fairchild yesterday afternoon. They, like my self, were blown away by the response!! 2 dump trucks and one mini van FULL of blankets, coats, scarves, gloves and mittens!!! Right now Airmen are sorting through all of your donations and storing them on a flat to be brought around the world with me.
 
In no exaggeration, we will have enough to help thousands of kids in Kyrgyz villages. Kids who might not have survived the winter otherwise. 
 Staff Sgt. VanAusdal said to me, "The Inland Northwest has done a great thing, we will literally save lives with all of these clothes."  So THANK YOU to all who stepped up to support our troops and our drive!!!
 
Like I said, we will be going to Bishkek, the country's capital. Right now, Over 200 supporters of a nationalist party rallied there Tuesday to protest the outcome of the parliamentary elections, in which the party narrowly missed the 5 per cent threshold to enter Kyrgyz parliament. Kyrgyzstan voted Sunday to elect a new parliament that has the right to approve a government and appoint a prime minister. The government hopes the election will establish a new era of democracy and end the cycle of instability that has affected the country for months.

This is just one of the many issues we will be covering while Overseas. My photographer Gabe Ferguson and I will bring you stories of the brave men and women stationed at the Manas Transit Center in Bishkek who proudly serve our Country. For the first time, we will give you an inside look at what our local airmen do on a day to day basis. Including going along with them while they fly re-fueling missions over Afghanistan. Aside from combat missions though, Airmen really try to make a difference in the villages of Kyrgyzstan through their humanitarian missions. We will also go along with them to those villages, and give out YOUR donations to the thousands in need. We will bring back these reports for you once we return to American soil, and they will air on KHQ Local News at 5 and 6 the following week!

I will be blogging, skyping and sending back pictures every step of the way, (whenever there is Internet access,) So,  please write me with any comments or questions you might have. We will stop in England for a brief layover at their base in Mildenhall before touching down in Kyrgyzstan, so look for an update... until then cheerio!!!

Kaitlyn

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