New Career Field for Enlisted Aviators

The Air Force is creating a new career field that will merge aerial gunners and flight engineers from its HH-60G Pave Hawks and CV-22 Ospreys with loadmasters from its AC-130 Gunships and other non-standard special-mission aircraft, announced service officials on Aug. 6. Some 920 enlisted aviators will find themselves with the new Air Force specialty code: 1A9X1 Special Missions Aviation, come Oct. 31, they said. “The new career field was created to balance and sustain the career enlisted aviator force and to create a larger pool of qualified personnel to perform the duties required to meet the needs of current and future Air Force missions,” said CMSgt. Douglas Massingill, career field manager for career enlisted aviators. The career field of aerial gunners has typically overflowed with new applicants, while the career fields of certain loadmasters and flight engineers have often suffered from manning shortages, explained MSgt. Matthew Ardis, career enlisted aviator in-service recruiter. Thus, the new specialty code should result in a sustainable balance, he said.