Commencing UAV Beta Test

The Air Force plans to have its first 10 prospective-unmanned aerial vehicle pilots report to Pueblo, Colo., for introductory flight training on Jan. 5 and is now looking for the next batch for its beta test program that it hopes will turn non-flying-qualified officers into UAV pilots. The service whittled down an initial 40 volunteers from various career fields to the first group of 10 to participate in an eight-month long training program that USAF expects to help rapidly increase the number of UAV operators available. As part of its UAV plan, the Air Force also has directed some recent undergraduate pilot training graduates into unmanned operations, postponing their manned-aircraft flying careers. According to Col. Charles Armentrout, the Air Staff’s chief of military force policy division, the criteria for the first 10 officers in the beta program were “fairly narrow,” but he added, “We plan to open up the process to take advantage of the high interest.” Those new criteria, including rank and age, are slated for release within two to four weeks. (AFNS report by MSgt. Russell Petcoff)