Enlisted Airmen Begin RPA Pilot Training

The first group of potential enlisted RQ-4 Global Hawk pilots began training to fly remotely piloted aircraft at the Memorial Airport in Pueblo, Colo., on Oct. 12. Three master sergeants and one technical sergeant are part of the first enlisted pilot initial class (EPIC) and are integrated with a normal class of of recently commissioned officers, marking the first time since the 1940s that the Air Force has trained enlisted members as pilots, according to Air Education and Training Command spokesman Randy Martin. Undergraduate flight training will continue at JBSA-Randolph, Texas, according to a press release. Two more groups of four airmen will begin training by the end of the fiscal year. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James visited the trainees at the Air Force’s Initial Flight Training School in Pueblo on Oct. 17. “The integration of enlisted RPA pilots into RQ-4 Global Hawk operations is part of a broader effort to meet the continual RPA demands of combatant commanders in the field, ensuring they are provided with intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capabilities in their areas of responsibilities worldwide,” she said, according to the release. The beginning of EPIC coincides with a broader increase in RPA pilot production in Fiscal 2016, from 192 to 384, at a cost of $1.2 million, according to Martin. (See also: Pilot Training for the Future from the September 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.)