ARIA

Apollo/Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft

Worldwide Support of Space and Earth Programs for 35 Years

Last E Model ARIA Retires

Last E model ARIA retired to Air Force Museum
November 9, 2000

By Ray Johnson
Public Affairs

The first of eight EC-135N aircraft became operationally in 1968 as the program stood up at Patrick AFB, Fla.

Seven years later, ARIA, redesignated as Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft, transferred to the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson.

It was there, from 1987 to 1989, that Reynolds commanded the 4952nd Test Squadron, which flew ARIA missions to the far corners of the globe.

It was during a trip to Barbados that Reynolds remembers his favorite mission. Supporting a Trident submarine test, the general recalls flying in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a moonless night when 10 missile re-entry vehicles rained in ahead of his aircraft. "It was a spectacular light show — picture perfect," he said.

In 1994, the ARIA stable, which now included EC-18B aircraft, relocated to Edwards. Gradually, the mission dwindled with planes being declared excess and transferred to other programs such as J-STARS.

With No. 374 now sitting at Wright-Patterson, only two active EC-18B, which are being used primarily by the Navy for pilot training, represent ARIA’s 30-year history.

However, that will change next May when the recently returned EC-135E will be officially displayed at the Air Force Museum during a ceremony that also will honor 21 ARIA crewmembers killed in an 1981 accident.

The first of eight EC-135N aircraft became operationally in 1968 as the program stood up at Patrick AFB, Fla.

Seven years later, ARIA, redesignated as Advanced Range Instrumentation Aircraft, transferred to the 4950th Test Wing at Wright-Patterson.

It was there, from 1987 to 1989, that Reynolds commanded the 4952nd Test Squadron, which flew ARIA missions to the far corners of the globe.

It was during a trip to Barbados that Reynolds remembers his favorite mission. Supporting a Trident submarine test, the general recalls flying in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on a moonless night when 10 missile re-entry vehicles rained in ahead of his aircraft. "It was a spectacular light show — picture perfect," he said.

In 1994, the ARIA stable, which now included EC-18B aircraft, relocated to Edwards. Gradually, the mission dwindled with planes being declared excess and transferred to other programs such as J-STARS.

With No. 374 now sitting at Wright-Patterson, only two active EC-18B, which are being used primarily by the Navy for pilot training, represent ARIA’s 30-year history.

However, that will change next May when the recently returned EC-135E will be officially displayed at the Air Force Museum during a ceremony that also will honor 21 ARIA crewmembers killed in an 1981 accident.

Source: Desert Wings