The men and women of the United States Air Force are some of the most highly trained pilots in the sky. Capable of flying even during the most challenging and dangerous conditions, there are few situations these individuals cannot handle.
A 2017 video posted to YouTube gives viewers a first-hand look at the intricate and delicate process of landing one of the largest aircraft in their fleet, a Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker, in the dead of night.
Check out the incredible video below:
The Stratotanker is a massive military aerial refueling aircraft used to help other aircraft go the distance. The behemoth plane attaches itself to fighter jets and other aircraft in midair during a mile-high, 200mph gas-and-go mission.
Originally introduced in the mid-1950s, the Stratotanker is one of just a handful of military aircraft with more than 50 years of experience under its belt. Today, more than 800 of these beasts are in service all around the world. Experts suggest that the aircraft may remain in service until 2030 and beyond.
In the video, three pilots of a KC-135 Stratotanker can be seen manhandling the mammoth military machine as it comes in for a landing at an undisclosed runway. To make the situation even trickier, the men are flying at night.
The pilots remain calm as they continuously check the massive array of sensors and indicators that illuminate the dashboard. Throughout the landing process, one of the pilots can be seen pulling and twisting the yoke as the aircraft tilts and turns towards the runway.
It is easy to forget that the cramped cockpit is just a small portion of the nearly 140-foot long aircraft. With a wingspan almost as wide as it is long, the servicemen have quite the aircraft to manage.
Each pilot of the three-man crew performs his job flawlessly as the runway lights come into view. As smooth and seamless as the approach may appear, a quick glimpse at the pilots indicates just how difficult even a relatively routine landing can be.
Fortunately, the aircraft touches down with little more than a bump. The pilots taxi down the dark runway ready to park the plane for the night and head off to their next assignment.