Prose: Nicholas Pascarella
Photography: Raphael Duncan

Most of us would love to get up in the air with modern fighters for a shoot. The truth is, however, those opportunities for civilians are few and far between. Only military personnel with proper experience and training are typically allowed in such situations, which leaves the majority of us here at Full Disc out.

Luckily, one of our photographers, Raphael Duncan, is also an experienced boom operator on a KC-135 refueling tanker. He's spent a lengthy amount of boom time both training newcomers stateside and working over warzones abroad, but occasionally he gets the opportunity for something unique.

The USAF Thunderbirds took part in a flyover for the Daytona 500, the fabled start of the NASCAR season. For their trip home to Nellis AFB, a KC-135 tanker accompanied them to keep their thirsty engines fed to their first stop in New Mexico. Raphael was in the boom pod for this flight, transferring 61,000lbs of fuel to Thunderbirds 1-7 in three seperate refuelings, so, without further ado, ladies and gentlemen, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds, by Raphael Duncan.

Images Below: Courtesy of the US AIR FORCE THUNDERBIRDS