A KC-135R from MacDill AFB in Tampa, Florida dragged the USAF Thunderbirds across the U.S. so that they could perform the opening flyover for the Daytona 500 and top photographer Mike Killian was onboard capturing all of the action.

In total “Bolt 13” refueled the gaggle of red, white and blue F-16s twice, first over New Mexico and Texas and then again over Louisiana and Mississippi. In total, 60,000 pounds of jet fuel passed through the Stratotanker’s boom and into the thirsty and clean (no tanks or weapons pylons) F-16’s tanks, allowing the team to arrive in Daytona Beach without ever touching the ground.

Here is the result of everyone’s hard work:

Here are some awesome shots from the tanker flight also courtesy of Mike Killian:

Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.



A huge thank you to Mike Killian for sharing his awesome experience and and images with us. Make sure to check out more of his incredible photos at MikeKillianPhotography.com.