Air Guard Reaper Unit Reaches 1,000th Stateside Flying Hour

The New York Air National Guard’s 174th Attack Wing in Syracuse reached its 1,000th flight hour with the MQ-9 Reaper remotely piloted aircraft as part of its Reaper schoolhouse functions, according to a unit release. The wing, headquartered at Hancock Field ANG Base, hit the milestone in March and has since accumulated about 200 additional flying hours, states the April 2 release. It has been flying its MQ-9s—a total of four—from Fort Drum’s Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield since October 2011. “It’s a great accomplishment,” said CMSgt. Mark Shearer of the wing’s Maintenance Operations Flight. “Some people thought we would never fly because of the weather here,” he said. The wing’s schoolhouse, which trains Reaper pilots and sensor operators, is the only formal MQ-9 aircrew training facility in the Air Guard. Initially, the wing flew just one flight per day, but now routinely flies two flights daily, with an average flight time of just over three hours, states the release. Shearer said his mechanics are now “some of the most experienced maintainers in the world operating the MQ-9 in a cold-weather environment.” (Hancock report by SrA. Duane Morgan) (See also Writing the Book on Reaper Maintenance.)