Rice family duo flies KC-46 to new home at Pease
By Staff Sgt. Morgan R. Lipinski, Air National Guard Readiness Center
/ Published September 27, 2019
JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Md. -- The arrival of the KC-46A Pegasus to the 157th Air Refueling Wing, Pease Air National Guard Base, New Hampshire, was a historical event in Guard aviation history.
In March 2019, the 157th ARW retired one of the unit’s KC-135R Stratotankers, the oldest in the U.S. Air Force, to make way for the new KC-46, the first to join the Air National Guard fleet. Along with this event’s historical importance, the KC-46 delivery also marked a significant moment for an ANG legacy father-and-son duo.
On the flight from the Boeing Delivery Center to Pease, Lt. Gen. L. Scott Rice, director of the ANG, and Capt. Lee Rice, a pilot assigned to the 157th ARW, flew the KC-46 together.
“This was an opportunity of a lifetime for us,” said Lt. Gen. Rice. “To see the oldest KC-135 in the U.S. Air Force leave Pease in spring and, now, for us to come back to Pease with one of the newest planes to serve our nation is truly something special.”
Lt. Gen. Rice has a seasoned history as an ANG pilot. In 1982, he graduated from undergraduate pilot training at Reese Air Force Base, Texas, and served as a command pilot with more than 4,300 hours in the F-111 Aardvark, A-10 Thunderbolt II, T-37B Tweet, and T-38 Talon.
Although Lt. Gen. Rice typically takes the lead in aerial operations, he passed on KC-46 aircraft commander responsibilities to his son.
Capt. Rice also has an extensive history in aviation. In 2014, Capt. Rice graduated from undergraduate pilot training at Vance Air Force Base, Oklahoma, and now serves as an instructor pilot with more than 2,000 hours of flying experience combined between the KC-135 and KC-46.
“This was the first time we flew a military aircraft together,” said Capt. Rice. “I flew with my dad when I first starting flying lessons at age 14. We have gone up numerous times since, but our flights together have always been in a civilian plane.”
Both Rice men felt honored to be a part of this monumental moment in Guard aviation history.
“The KC-46 is a game changer,” said Capt. Rice. “For the Guard to have the opportunity to take on this new weapons system is unbelievable. This is such an important asset to support both our stateside and overseas missions.”
The KC-46 provides greater refueling, cargo and aeromedical evacuation capabilities than its predecessor, the KC-135. This aircraft also provides modernized aerial refueling support to U.S. military and allied nations’ receiver-capable aircraft.
“As the Air National Guard works to protect our families, our freedoms and our liberties, we want to make sure to have the most flexible, adaptable and manageable weapons systems,” said Lt. Gen. Rice. “The KC-46 is built to connect the world— through refueling, transportation and technology. This is the next generation for the Air National Guard.”
This KC-46 delivery flight also marked the end of an era for Lt. Gen. Rice as this was the last flight he piloted as a member of the U.S. Air Force. He is scheduled to retire in 2020; however, Lt. Gen. Rice’s legacy will continue thanks, in part, to his son and the KC-46.