First Fruits of the Reaper

The first class of remotely piloted aircraft operators trained from the ground up to fly the MQ-9 Reaper graduated the RPA basic flight course at Holloman AFB, N.M. These airmen, trained in the new Air Force Specialty Code 18X, have no previous qualifications in a manned aircraft. “There’s extra time built into the syllabus to allow the students to get more practice, because they have to learn techniques they’ve never used before,” said Lt. Col. Nathan Hansen, commander of the 29th Attack Squadron, an RPA training unit. Candidates received rudimentary screening in light aircraft at Pueblo, Colo., before progressing to simulators at Randolph, AFB, Tex., during the six-month basic course. Since these operators only learn how to fly the aircraft over the target zone—another operator has control during the MQ-9’s takeoff and landing—the course is significantly shorter than manned undergraduate flight training, states the release. The operators, who received their wings on Aug. 16, advanced to mission qualification training. (Holloman report by SrA Siuta Ika) (See also New RPA Training Pipeline Yields Its First Global Hawk Pilots.)