Thanks to members of the Ohio Air National Guard's 121st Air Refueling Wing, headquartered at Rickenbacker Air National Guard Base in Columbus, the Blue Jackets logo will soon be seen around the world.
One of the unit's 12 KC-135R aircraft now bears the Blue Jackets logo near the cockpit and nose cone of the plane, with further CBJ touches located inside the aircraft, thanks to hockey fans who staff the base.
"We were given the option to choose what theme we wanted," Tech. Sgt. Jeremy Ebert said. "We had a couple of other jets that are local hometown teams, the Ohio State Buckeyes and the Columbus Crew, and recently we have become big Blue Jackets fans in my family so I figured it was fitting to go with the Blue Jackets."
In addition to the Blue Jackets logo on the nose, touches inside the plane include a navigation table decorated to look just like the ice in Nationwide Arena as well as the names of Ebert and his colleagues in the cockpit under the message "The Fifth Line."
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"We were given liberty on the inside of the aircraft to basically do anything we wanted to do within reason," Ebert said. "We still have some ideas we're tossing around, some things to do, but it'll turn out really good once we're completely done."
The decal on the nose of the plane was printed by Airman First Class Tristan Vance and A1C Clay Gray, who work in the base's sheet metal/vinyl shop, and unveiled Wednesday during a visit by CBJ representatives. Members of the base also got together to film a shout out to be shown during Tuesday night's Military Appreciation Night, the hope is to host the CBJ again this summer if Covid-19 regulations are relaxed.
"You can see with everybody who showed up that had an interest in what was going on, I think probably of all of (the planes), this is probably the coolest one," Ebert said.
The KC-135 Stratotanker with the CBJ décor was built in 1963, with its primary function to serve in air refueling. Nearly all of the fuel on board, up to 200,000 pounds, can be pumped through the tanker's flying boom into other jets midair, with a member of the flight crew operating the boom at the rear of the aircraft. It is one of the backbones of the air force, flying across the world to help Air Force jets achieve their goals.