Betas Join the Fight

Members of the Air Force’s first beta class of officers with no previous flying experience who learned last year how to operate MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft are now flying combat missions over Southwest Asia from control consoles at Creech AFB, Nev., Gen. Stephen Lorenz, Air Education and Training Command boss, said Feb. 19 at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium in Orlando. This group of eight graduates began their RPA training in January 2009 under a test program to gauge whether this set-up was a viable way for the Air Force to quickly bolster its RPA pilot ranks to meet the insatiable warfighter demand for Predator overhead imagery. Lorenz later told reporters that the graduates of the second beta class have just arrived at Creech and are expected to join the fray soon. There will be a third beta class, but it hasn’t started yet, he noted.