Every time there is a long distance flight in the Air force that needs a fill up, a KC-135 airliner that is specially fitted as a flying gas station takes to the air. There are other aircraft used for refueling sometimes but this is the main flying tanker used in the Air Force. And the person who is responsible for the refueling lines is called the Air Force Refueling Specialist. He is the person who is solely responsible for ensuring that the aircraft that needs to take on aviation fuel is properly connected. He is responsible to connect and control the refueling equipment and hoses. This equipment is called the boom, and it is also referred to sometimes as the flying boom. For this reason the operator is referred to as the flying boom operator.
The person who is manning the flying boom can be anyone from a Chief Master Sergeant, to a lowly airman basic provided they have the proper training. All Air Force Boom operators are also trained as loadmasters and aviation load specialists. The cargo in the tanker or other flying aircraft is the direct responsibility of the loadmaster, and making sure that it is properly tied down and ready for flight is the responsibility of the Air Force Aviation Refueling Specialist/ Air force loadmaster designee.
The actual designation for boom operator is a little bit of a misnomer, all Air Force Aviation Crewmembers who serve on KC-135 tankers are cross trained in how to operate the boom, so while there is a specialty for Aviation refueling it is also part and parcel of being a Aviation Air Force Crewmember. The Aviation Crewmember who is responsible for flying the boom on a refueling mission is the person that extends the long extendable jointed metal boom, that reaches out to the airplane wishing to receive fuel. As a Aviation crewmember or boomer, you will fly in various missions that mostly average about 4 and a half hours in length. You will have to fly on alert status at some times, which simply means you are on alert, ready to go at a moments notice.
Flying on Alert means you are restricted to base and to the barracks or area where you are stationed, and it generally lasts from 4 to 7 days at a time, and it is a responsibility that is rotated among the Aviation Crewmembers assigned to a specific base.