The first three enlisted airmen graduated from the Air Force’s undergraduate remotely piloted aircraft training program (URT) at JBSA-Randolph, Texas, on May 5. One of the students, a master sergeant, graduated in the top 10 percent of his class (the Air Force does not release the names of RPA pilots or sensor operators). He was also the first member of the enlisted pilot initial class (EPIC) to conduct a solo flight in a DA-20 Katana aircraft during initial flight training at Pueblo Memorial Airport, Colorado, in November 2016. “What makes this accomplishment even more extraordinary is the quality of the students who make up this URT class 17-10,” said Lt. Col. Jason Thompson, the 558th Flying Training Squadron commander, who is responsible for training pilots and sensor operators at JBSA-Randolph. The three enlisted pilots still need to complete formal training at Beale AFB, Calif., where they will qualify to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk. A fourth enlisted airmen who was originally part of the first EPIC class “self-eliminated” from the program near the beginning, said Air Education and Training Command spokesman Capt. Jose Davis. On March 8, the Air Force announced that the inaugural Enlisted Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot Selection Board had selected 30 enlisted airmen from a total of 200 applicants to fill pilot training slots for Fiscal 2017 and 2018. Davis said that selection means AETC has “normalized the pipeline” for enlisted RPA pilots.
See also Return to Enlisted Pilots from the April issue of Air Force Magazine.