By Lauren Piette
It’s official! After 12 seasons, the Spokane Indians’ mascot RecycleMan is officially heading into retirement. What’s stepping up to the plate? Joining the iconic Spokane Indians baseball mascot club as the newest addition, please put your hands together for “KC the Stratotanker!” This brand new mascot for the Spokane Indians, a minor league team playing out of the High-A Northwest League, was unveiled on Friday, July 22. So, let’s break down what we know about this anthropomorphic KC-135 Stratotanker mascot and the refueling plane that inspired its creation.

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Meet the Mascot: “KC” the Stratotanker

The Spokane Indians’ newest mascot highlights KC-135 tankers and works to increase pride for Fairchild Air Force Base, which is home to a large number of KC-135s. KC’s debut is also a celebration of the Air Force, which celebrates its 75th anniversary on September 18 of 2022. With the introduction of the new mascot, the Air Force hopes that “KC'' will evoke a positive message and increase base publicity. KC was created with the intent of showcasing the vital role that Fairchild AFB plays in national security and honors past military innovations. Here are a few fast facts about KC that will help you get to know him a bit better.
  • He’s got two sets of wings.
  • KC’s favorite song is “Danger Zone.”
  • According to his teammates, KC’s favorite movie is, of course, Top Gun.
There’s been no official confirmation yet as to his view on Top Gun: Maverick, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled for his official film review.

What Is a KC-135 Stratotanker?

The KC-135 Stratotanker has been in service since 1957 and is one of only a few fixed-wing planes to be in operation for that long. The stratotanker’s main job is to provide aerial refueling support to the Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and allied nation aircraft. The Boeing KC-135 Stratotanker can carry up to 83,000 pounds of cargo and has a shuttlecock-shaped drogue attached to and flying behind it to refuel aircraft that are fitted with probes. The first KC-135 took flight in August 1956, and throughout the years, it’s been altered to perform various jobs, such as command post missions and special reconnaissance. In 2011, the next-generation aerial refueling tanker aircraft, the KC-46, replaced the Air Force’s remaining KC-135s. Today, the 92nd Air Refueling Wing oversees fueling operations and is home to a large number of the remaining KC-135s. The Defense Logistics Agency works to ensure that the KC-135 Stratotankers are fully operational and that they provide the Air Force with quality, safe in-flight air refueling.

The Operation Fly Together Campaign

The Spokane Indian mascot KC is part of the Operation Fly Together campaign with Fairchild Air Force Base that was announced on May 27, 2021. The Spokane Indians baseball team partnered with the Innovia Foundation to launch the Operation Fly Together campaign and the Operation Fly Together Veterans Fund to actively work towards improving the lives of Veterans and active-duty military families. The campaign raises awareness and funds for Veteran needs through donations. Merchandise sales, ceremonies, educational campaigns, and celebrations are hosted by Operation Fly Together year-round. Essential to the campaign is the Operation Fly Together Fund, which raises awareness of the need to support active-duty or retired servicemen and women. Spokane Indians merchandise (tee shirts, hats, patches, and pins) supporting the campaign can be purchased at the official Spokane Indians website.

Keep Your Eyes Peeled

The next time you attend a Spokane Indians game, be sure to keep your eyes peeled for KC. You’ll definitely want to score some pictures with this mascot, so be sure to bring along family and friends. Don’t forget to come decked out in your Spokane Indian merch! In need of some refreshments during the game? Be sure to grab some “tanker nachos” at the concession stand to show your support for the KC-135 Stratotanker and the Fly Together Campaign; a portion of the sales goes directly to the Operation Fly Together Veterans Fund. And who knows, maybe the next time you see KC, he will have rocketed to celebrity mascot status, as securing a spot in the Mascot Hall of Fame is definitely on the horizon.

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Image: @spokaneindians on Twitter



aerial refueling
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