Just Watching This Air Force Tanker's Landing Approach Can Make You Nauseous

A U.S. Air Force KC-46 Pegasus tanker made an unorthodox and—to the uninitiated, anyway—dangerous-looking landing. The brand new tanker, coming for a landing at Le Bourget Airport in Paris, looked more than a little out of control before pulling off a near-perfect touchdown.

The KC-46 “approaches runway 21 from the left, hooks a low and tight turn off the base leg, and makes a last-second play for the threshold to make a nice touchdown pretty close to the centerline,” according to The Aviationist, which first spotted the vid.


The KC-46’s landing marks the debut of the new tanker design at the Paris Air Show. The KC-46 is a modified Boeing 767-200ER commercial airliner with a 787 cockpit, but instead of passenger seats the jet is outfitted to carry cargo and up to 212,299 pounds of jet fuel. Alternately, the KC-46 can carry up to 58 passengers and 65,000 pounds of cargo. The U.S. Air Force plans to purchase 179 of the tankers.

The KC-46 Pegasus tanker on the ground at the Paris Air Show, 2019.
The KC-46 Pegasus tanker on the ground at the Paris Air Show, 2019.
Photo: Michel Euler (AP)

The KC-46 is at the air show not only to show off the Air Force’s latest tanker but also to drum up foreign sales. That may be a tough sell, as the KC-46 is nearly three years behind schedule, has repeatedly experienced issues with garbage found left inside the aircraft during the manufacturing process, and the remote camera system for mid-air refueling has been dogged by problems.

The Air Force has twice suspended deliveries of the aircraft over manufacturing issues and a new General Accounting Office report states that some Air Force commanders have been reluctant to let KC-46s refuel their aircraft, concerned that the refueling boom could strike and damage their aircraft.

The Paris Air Show is held at Le Bourget Airport June 17 to June 23.

Kyle Mizokami is a defense and security writer based in San Francisco, California.



I can only imagine how much fun a jet with a high MTOW would be to fly empty.  These pilots probably get to practice that type of flying more than most since they are one of the few types that get to fly what is essentially an airliner where you get to drop your cargo off midair.