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U.S. Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Pilot Training


The future of aviation is RPAs. Our
RPAs are only going to get better, faster, stronger and they’re going to
contribute to the mission on an exponential level. The fun part about the
students who are selected as pilot candidates is we take them from the very
beginning. You don’t need to have a private pilot’s license, you don’t need
to have any kind of airmanship–we’ll take care of that. In the end we’re going to
produce a very awesome Pilot. My path to becoming an RPA Pilot, I went to training
in Pueblo, Colorado for two months, where they take care of the Pilots, the Navigators and the RPA Pilots, and lead them through their initial pilot
training. And then we put them through our program: the Remotely Piloted
Aircraft Instrument Qualification Course. Every Air Force Pilot must understand
all the rules and restrictions that govern the skies and we introduce them
to those rules in RIQ. So, we have T6 simulators, where a student will fly
approximately 30 missions. Every day we spent about two hours in it, whether that
was with an instructor or you could come back into a solo sim with your flight
mates, this is where we start to learn how to fly by instruments and how to
fine tune those aviation qualities. What this does is introduces the student to
some very strenuous environments. We put them through a rigorous training program
and we bring out the mistakes, because if we correct the mistake you won’t make it
again. And then they go through RFC, the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Fundamental
Course, where we teach them how to fly those specific aircraft that they’ll be
flying in the future: the MQ-9 Reaper and the RQ-4 Global Hawk. The next step after
I leave San Antonio, I will go to Holloman Air Force Base and I will spend
approximately six months there learning how to fly my specific airframe. The
training here at Holloman is the initial qualification training for the MQ-9. The
first set is going through the transition phase to learn how to
actually fly the aircraft and knowing the systems itself, and then we start to
go under those actual employment phases for surface attack, intelligence
surveillance and reconnaissance collection, and then interdiction strike
coordination and then close air support by the end of it. After Holloman, I will
transition to my permanent duty station at Cannon Air Force Base where I’ll be
supporting their units directly and the men and women I work with daily. This is not only a huge opportunity for somebody entering
the Air Force, but this is the way the Air Force is going. We’re laying the
groundwork for what’s to come for the future of aviation. It’s a very exciting
time to be in the RPA world.

Reynold King

14 Replies to “U.S. Air Force Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) Pilot Training”

  1. I would of loved to learn to become a cryptolinguist or a (RPA) private pilot for reapers in the USAF.
    I always envisioned myself
    waking up on a USAF
    airfield working with planes, and guarding bases
    since I was 17, but
    I was always "too stupid"
    to join… :/

  2. I know that the reaper drones and similar aircraft have both a gunner and a pilot but is this the same “course” or are they separate? Would really appreciate some feedback on this since all the people I asked were unsure

  3. I have researched this career field, but I still have not found how to apply for a scholarship, Should I go to my local recruiter

  4. I’m 5’3” is there any waivers if I want to become a RPA pilot? I wouldn’t have to fit a specific frame per se, so would it still be a problem?

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