When you enlist in the Air Force one of the jobs that you can get is the position of refueling specialist, or Aerial Boom Operator. It is also known as the in flight refueling apprentice, but most often it is referred to as the boom operator. The equipment that a boom operator uses to refuel aircraft during flight is a remote controlled metal arm, or boom, that extends from the flying aerial tanker back down to the aircraft that is seeking fuel. It is a long segmented metal air that has a hose attached to it. It is sometimes called a flying boom, and hence the name of boom operator for the person responsible for using it. The person that actually is the boom operator can be anyone from the rank of Airman Basic, to chief master sergeant, depending on if they possess the training and the skill set necessary to undergo underway fueling of military aircraft.
All persons that are trained in the Air force for the role of boom operator is also trained to be an Aerial Air Force Loadmaster, they are nearly speaking dual positions. As a loadmaster you will learn how to properly supervise and load material onto an aircraft and how to properly stow away cargo effectively. You will receive different types of types of training to give you the necessary skills sets to allow you to be successful at the job of loadmaster and Aviation Fueling boom operator. You will be trained in navigational skills and training so that if ever the navigation officer is tied up you can assist with finding and determining the location geographically of the aircraft. The long version of the name, Air Force in flight refueling apprentice is normally only used for official paperwork and award ceremonies, for all intents and purposes the job is referred to as Boom Operators, or “boomers,” for short. “Boomers” are aviation trained expert crewmembers that are responsible for the refueling part of operations.
The boomer is responsible for extending the refueling segmented metal arm, or boomer that connects the tanker, normally a Air Force KC-135 or similar tanker aircraft, with the aircraft that is seeking to be refueled. You will work to fly, train and participate in a variety of missions, both in training and in actual battlefield type conditions. You will be assigned to serve on seven day alert status on occasion, this means you have to stay on base and ready to go 24 hours a day for a seven day alert period.