Lying flat on her stomach in the tail section of the KC-135R Stratotanker, Nicole Canada waits for rocky air turbulence and strong winds to calm down. Turbulence and sudden gusts of wind can add thrilling aspects to Canada’s job, but can also prevent her from carrying out her particular mission as a boom operator on board the Boeing-built tanker. Fortunately, within minutes the rocking ceases, the wind dies down, and Canada peers through a small window, ready to proceed. The tanker pilot confirms the KC-135 is in proper position to refuel the thirsty receiver aircraft flying just behind. Canada deftly maneuvers the tanker’s refueling boom into the receiver aircraft’s receptacle and begins pumping thousands of pounds of fuel. When done, she disconnects the boom and the receiver aircraft is good to go and able to continue its mission—without having to land for fuel. It’s a precisely orchestrated ballet of skill, experience, precision and teamwork that has played out at 20,000 feet (6,100 meters) and 500 mph (800 kilometers per hour). Just another day on the job for this Boeing employee, who’s also a U.S. Air Force reservist based at March Air Reserve Base in Riverside, Calif. “They say the dream job is the one you’d do for free,” said Canada, a senior master sergeant with the U.S. Air Force Reserve and a boom operator for the past 21 years for the KC-135. “I have that dream job.” And her Boeing job with Global Services & Support is almost an extension of what she does for the military—one she is equally proud of. Canada is based in Long Beach, Calif., where she’s an BOEING FRONTIERS / MAY 2013 21 career Outside her regular job at Boeing, this employee pumps gas … at 20,000 feet By Diane Stratman Photos by Bob Ferguson PHOTOS: (Left) In the tail of a KC-135 tanker, U.S. Air Force Reserve member and Boeing employee Nicole Canada lies on her stomach with her chin in a support rest as she maneuvers the tanker’s “flying boom” to a connection. The receiver aircraft, a C-17airlifter (above right), is reflected in her sunglasses.
Frontiers May 2013 Issue
To see the actual publication please follow the link above