Todd Miller


Todd Miller has been an aviation photographer and “platform enthusiast” from his early teens.

Todd is a prolific contributor to Military Aviation news agencies worldwide in print and digital medium.

A student of global conflict, military strategy, leadership and weapons systems Todd utilizes opportunities to meet with military leaders and flight crews to unpack platform capabilities, tactics and pilot experience.

Todd consistently brings passion and insight to his work and strives to provide the human interest component to his journalism.

His work on Second Line of Defense has highlighted the operational work of the US armed forces and how they make the difficult look simple.

For example, in a piece published on the 305th Air Mobility Wing, he brought us a great sense of what it was to fly with the Wing and how they worked the art of aerial refueling.

And in his piece on flying with a B-2 at night he brought a sense of immediacy of the experience to those of us who have not done so.

The 305th AMW and their force of KC-10 tankers at JBMDL enable the Global Reach of the USAF.  On this mission we fly with crew from the 32nd Air Refueling Squadron (ARS) with the clear and accurate motto “Linking the Continents.”  It is a simple fact, without units like the 305th AMW the Global Reach of the USAF would be severely diminished.

The importance and value of the mission is not lost on boom operators like Wise, who comments “a boom operators job offers instant satisfaction.  

Every time we refuel an aircraft we enable it to complete its mission, whether in training, combat, or humanitarian relief.”

This job satisfaction explains why I find myself with 3 very experienced boom operators.  All three are Instructors, including Master Sergeant Jessica Stockwell with 11 years’ experience.

The three are passionate and have found tremendous rewards in service.  Stockwell notes that it is an incredible team effort from the maintenance group to the entire crew on the aircraft.

As it relates specifically to her role as in-flight refueler she says, “during preparation and flight the 2 pilots and flight engineer are responsible for everything that happens in the cockpit, the in-flight refueler is responsible for everything that happens outside the cockpit, air to air refueling, cargo, people and more.  It is very rewarding to have that mission responsibility.”

Buffeted by turbulence BAT 71 drops briefly off the boom.  As the turbulence subsides she slides back making another connect look effortless.  This Spirit is not leaving without getting all her intended fuel.  The entire encounter speaks of planning, precision and the utmost professionalism.

Dropping off the boom a final time, BAT 71 disappears into the night.

Under duress, SMSgt Wise passes his review and moves forward toward instructor requalification.

Sochia and Stockwell fuel BAT 72 & BAT 73.  Time passes too quickly. Their thirst satisfied the bombers disappear into the dark skies to destination(s) unknown.

This was a training mission.

In the same fashion, the Spirits loaded with deadly ordnance which bcould be destined to strike a target on the other side of the globe.

B-2 Spirits are each identified with a unique U.S. State, such as “The Spirit of Missouri.”

I always considered the name “Spirit” in such context.

Zero Hundred, October 3 has forever changed my perspective.

“Spirit” as perhaps was always intended, is; “one emerging from the clouds, lights glowing, hair flowing, mysterious, ghostly – and most certainly, deadly.