Expanding the Envelope

An MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft flew a search and rescue exercise in national airspace for the first time earlier this year, announced Air National Guard officials. During exercise Ardent Sentry, controllers with the Texas Air Guard’s 147th Reconnaissance Wing launched the aircraft from Fort Polk, La., handing off to a crew with the California Air Guard’s 163rd RW at March ARB, Calif., for the search. The MQ-1 “demonstrated the capability to safely fly within the US national airspace system and provide persistent full-motion video from remotely piloted aircraft to incident commanders, first responders, and interagency partners,” said Col. Randall Ball, 163rd RW commander, in the wing’s July 7 release. Orbiting over a simulated hurricane-ravaged zone, the Predator proved useful by locating survivors and relaying potential hazards to rescue teams on the ground during the May 7 exercise, states the release. (March report by Capt. Perry Covington) (See also Reaping the Lost.)