McConnell Air Force Base in Kansas on Wednesday evacuated 13 of its aircraft in the face of severe weather coming into the Wichita area.

McConnell said in a release that the aircraft — which included KC-135 Stratotankers and three of the new KC-46 Pegasus tankers — were flown to Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington to try to prevent them from being damaged. Fairchild was chosen as a “safe haven” base because it is located far from the storm, is able to house personnel from McConnell, and could provide maintenance for the planes.

Aside from those needed for the 13 aircraft, personnel from McConnell are not being evacuated, the base said. But they should take the proper precautions, including safeguarding their homes, finding shelter, and stockpiling supplies.

Local news station KAKE reported that parts of Kansas could see high winds, large hailstones and possibly even tornadoes Wednesday, with the storms continuing into the night.

The base said the affected aircraft and personnel will return to McConnell once it is safe.

Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska also evacuated nine of its aircraft last month — mostly to MacDill Air Force Base in Florida and Lincoln Air National Guard Base in Nebraska — as severe flooding threatened the base.

Stephen Losey is the air warfare reporter for Defense News. He previously covered leadership and personnel issues at Air Force Times, and the Pentagon, special operations and air warfare at He has traveled to the Middle East to cover U.S. Air Force operations.

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