And a New Opportunity

The California Air National Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing, fresh off two years of Predator unmanned aerial vehicle operations, plans to begin training other airmen to operate the MQ-1 in April 2009. In preparation, it will fly its first training sortie in January from the Southern California Logistics Airport, formerly George Air Force Base. The wing, which is headquartered at March Air Reserve Base, already has been conducting UAV maintenance training for active and Air Guard personnel. Its foray into UAV pilot training will start with Air Guardsmen, but it expects to add active-duty students to help expand USAF’s cadre of UAV operators. Currently, the service has only one pilot training facility, located at Creech AFB, Nev. (163rd RQW report by Capt. Al Bosco)