Air Force Ball an outstanding event Published Sept. 21, 2009 By Col. Gary Goldstone 375th Airlift Wing commander SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- It was a magical night full of pageantry, fine dining, customs and courtesies, tradition and celebration as 360 of us gathered at the Scott Club Saturday evening to commemorate the Air Force's 62nd birthday with the theme of "Year of the Tanker." The air power that tankers provide our Air Force today is unmatched and is a fitting theme as we recall its humble beginnings. It was June 27, 1923, at an altitude of about 500 feet above Rockwell Field on San Diego's North Island, two U.S. Army Air Servic e airplanes became linked in mid-air. This was the first air-to-air refueling using a gravity-flow hose. While only 75 gallons of fuel was transferred, the event is memorable because it was a first. Then in August of 1923, the same group of Airmen conducted an endurance record by remaining aloft for more than 37 hours, using nine aerial refuelings. In June 1928, a new aerial refueling endurance record of more than 61 hours was established in Belgium. Then from Jan. 1-7, 1929, an Army Air Corp crew of five, led by then Maj. Carl Spaatz, climbed into an aircraft called the Question Mark. The mission of the Question Mark crew was to conduct an endurance test to see how long a receiver aircraft could stay airborne. The crew flew a 110-mile racetrack from Santa Monica to San Diego, Calif. The flight lasted a total of 150 hours and 40 minutes, and the crew made 43 contacts with the tanker aircraft. All told, the Question Mark received 5,700 gallons of fuel. This summer marked the 86th anniversary of the use of the elementary technique of range extension conducted in 1923. We honor that ingenuity and the dedicated and visionary service that the men and women of this early time provided us. The Air Force Ball was also a time to embrace tradition by participating in a grand march and pausing to honor those who, in Abraham Lincoln's words, "Gave the last, full measure of devotion" for our country and our future. We were delighted to hear our own Shades of Blue Jazz ensemble, which is part of Air Mobility Command's Band of Mid-America. These amazing musicians tour the country promoting community relations and foster good will, and they once again performed extremely well. The 18th Air Force commander, Lt. Gen. Robert Allardice, was the guest speaker and his stirring words and personal experiences about those he served with left us feeling so proud to wear Air Force blue. With a ceremonial cake cutting followed by dancing into the wee hours, it was a grand time thanks to the very hard work of literally hundreds of people who came together in true Team Scott fashion to make this a first class event. Special thanks goes to Lt. Col. Juliette Robinson, 375th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, who spearheaded an outstanding team of volunteers who raised enough money to keep our ticket prices to an affordable amount and who ensured every detail was attended to. I can't say enough about the incredible effort it took during the past nine months for this team to plan and then carry out this event. My sincere thanks and appreciation goes to them, as well as to The Club staff and chef, to the Honor Guard and to all who donated items, money, time and talent to make this a most memorable and enjoyable, and, in my view, the best ever Air Force Ball!