Liquid Oxygen (LOX) to Gaseous Oxygen (GOX)
When my unit transitioned to KC-135 tankers in 1975 my flight engineer days were over and I RIFF'ed down to first the Doppler shop then the Instrument shop supervisor.
During those early years I, and probably many others wondered why such a large aircraft had a space saving LOX system. By it's very nature LOX evaporates away whether or not it is used and needs periodic and complex servicing. Also puzzling was the fact that a GOX system had been added to the 135 to provide back up during prolonged remote site alert missions.
Around 1984 I did some research and felt that the LOX system could be eliminated and the existing GOX system could, in a well maintained system furnish sufficient supply for eight hours of essential war mission unpressurized flight.
I then started to get serious about doing away with the system but until I heard that the 135 maintenance support center at Tinker AFB was having trouble procuring spare parts for the LOX system my efforts garnered little local or command attention.
In 1985 Tinker gave me permission, with my commander's consent, to deactivate 0017's system and collect and record a months long service record. The test indicated a savings of assets and the obvious safety issue.
To make a long story less long-About this time a friend from a think tank at nearby Wright Pat AFB informed me that his shop was interested in funding off the shelf innovations if there was sufficient return on investment. I convinced Tinker and the National Guard Bureau to allow me to do a large scale prototype sample on six of our assigned aircraft. The think tank gave me a $45,000 grant to fund the conversions. To keep the Guard on my side I had to add a second row of takns to duplicte the lost LOX capacity.
The results of the prototype, that later included two Grissom AFB reserve tankers were positive and my data indicated a life cycle savings of $250,000,000 fleetwide.
By 1986 Tinker was on board but SAC HQ, that art in Omaha, played their “not invented here card” and refused to buy in. A young LC on the SAC engineering staff whispered to me at a conference at Tinker that he and the others thought my idea was valid but dared not say so publicly.
About this time, mid 1986 SEC DEF Casper Wineburger was to tour one of our aircraft during a visit to the Columbus area. I asked my commander, if possible, to guide Casper to the back of a converted aircraft.
When they showed up at the mod a photographer snapped a picture of me, the mod, and Casper viewing the GOX installation.
I obtained a copy of the picture, converted it to an overhead transparency and sent it to the friendly LC at Offut. He quietly slipped the slide into a stack that were used to brief CIC Sac monthly on mods and suggested mods for the fleet.
The rest is history and my good friend Jason Besser ended up installing the TCTO (that I wrote) on his unit's birds and the rest of the fleet soon followed.
I have spared y'all the details of procurement, assembly and tech data creation for the prototype.
Paul Hunter SMS OANG Ret.