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KC-135 operations return to Sioux City as runway reopens

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185th Air Refueling Wing anniversary (copy)

A maintenance crew removes a drogue adapter from the boom of a tanker at the 185th Air Refueling Wing of the Iowa Air National Guard in Sioux City in this 2021 file photo.

SIOUX CITY -- Military aircraft operations have returned to Sioux City, following the completion of a roughly $8.9 million runway project at Sioux Gateway Airport, which began the last week in April.  

After their return in mid-summer, the deployed jets joined the rest of the unit's aircraft at Air National Guard bases in Topeka, Kansas, and, later, in Sioux Falls. During their time away, Iowa Air Guard members continued to provide air refueling support for domestic operations while operating remotely.

The 185th said in a statement that the return of the aircraft brings a much-anticipated return to "normal" for aircraft maintainers and aircrew who have had a hefty commute over the past several months.

Master Sgt. Mike Caswell, 185th Air Refueling Wing Flight Chief, said he had made a lot of trips form Sioux City to Topeka, Kansas, over the past seven months. During their drive, Caswell said they battled run-ins with deer and a number of flat tires, among other hazards that come with a four-hour weekly road trip.

"We can’t wait to have them back," Caswell said. "It has been a long summer, we are so glad to have them home!"

The project had construction crews replace 200 feet of overrun on both ends of the runway, 20-foot-wide shoulders on both sides, and LED lighting to improve "visual flying" as aircraft approach the runway.

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City Government & Features Reporter

Butz, a Drake University graduate, has been at the Journal since 2005, covering a variety of beats, including public safety, health care and city government. She has won state and national awards, primarily for coverage of addiction and mental health.

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