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Derby 150th anniversary nose art dedication

Nose art dedicated to the city of Derby's 150th anniversary is displayed on a KC-135 Stratotanker Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. American pilots painting the nose of an aircraft dates back to World War I and was used as a way to identify flying squadrons and boost morale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

Nose art dedicated to the city of Derby's 150th anniversary is displayed on a KC-135 Stratotanker Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. American pilots painting the nose of an aircraft dates back to World War I and was used as a way to identify flying squadrons and boost morale. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

Colonel Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, speaks at the nose art unveiling ceremony in honor of the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Local community leaders and members of Team McConnell took part in the event, celebrating both their partnership and a timeless tradition of aviation history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

Colonel Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, speaks at the nose art unveiling ceremony in honor of the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. Local community leaders and members of Team McConnell took part in the event, celebrating both their partnership and a timeless tradition of aviation history. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

Colonel Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, and Randy White, Mayor of Derby and 931st Operations Group honorary commander, unveil the KC-135 Stratotanker nose art dedicated to the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The event promoted partnership between the local community and military members, while also honoring their long history together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

Colonel Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, and Randy White, Mayor of Derby and 931st Operations Group honorary commander, unveil the KC-135 Stratotanker nose art dedicated to the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The event promoted partnership between the local community and military members, while also honoring their long history together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

Randy White, Mayor of Derby and 931st Operations Group honorary commander, and Col. Phil Heseltine, 931st Air Refueling Wing commander pose in front of the KC-135 Stratotanker nose art dedicated to the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The event promoted partnership between the local community and military members, while also honoring their long history together.

Randy White, Mayor of Derby and 931st Operations Group honorary commander, and Col. Phil Heseltine, 931st Air Refueling Wing commander pose in front of the KC-135 Stratotanker nose art dedicated to the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary Oct. 2, 2019, at McConnell Air Force Base, Kan. The event promoted partnership between the local community and military members, while also honoring their long history together. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Skyler Combs)

MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. --

Members of Team McConnell showed their support with a nose art unveiling Oct. 2, 2019, for the city of Derby’s 150th anniversary.

To mark the occasion, Col. Richard Tanner, 22nd Air Refueling Wing commander, presented Randy White, Mayor of Derby and 931st Operations Group honorary commander, with the KC-135 Stratotanker nose art dedicated to the local community in honor of their support.

“This is simply an open declaration of our long-term ties with the community and our sincere congratulations for reaching such an important milestone,” said Tanner.

The nose art unveiling is the culmination of a yearlong celebration, bringing together military members and local community leaders.

“What makes this really special is knowing that it doesn’t happen very often and that [McConnell] wanted to do something special for us,” said White. “We understand and appreciate the heritage behind nose art and are truly honored to be included in this unique event.”

American pilots in World War I adopted the art of painting the nose of an aircraft for practical reasons of identifying friendly units. World War II fighters continued the tradition, with both Axis and Allied powers taking part. Designs ranging from pin-ups to cartoon characters graced the noses of B-29s and P-51s as symbols of good luck for those onboard.

The tradition continues today with the unveiling of the Derby 150th anniversary nose art adorning one of McConnell’s KC-135 fleet.

American aviation history is closely tied to Derby, dating back to WWII, when the high demand for aircraft kept the local economy booming. The city provided workers with a close place to live, and when Wichita Municipal Airport became McConnell Air Force Base in 1952, it did the same for Airmen.

“This nose art will be a symbol of the friendship shared between Derby and McConnell families,” said White. “We are grateful for this honor and will cherish and proudly display this special tradition.”

The nose art unveiling represents Team McConnell’s continued support for the city of Derby and is a testament to the shared partnership and devotion between the base and local community.

“I hope events like this bring a little more awareness of what is already great to the good people in Derby who haven’t had a direct connection with the base,” said Tanner. “Between this unveiling, next year’s Airshow/Open House and lots of other engagements, we hope to expand our touchpoints with the community.”