First Enlisted Solo Flights in 60 Years

Two master sergeants on Nov. 3 became the first enlisted airmen to complete solo flights in 60 years after their initial training flights with the 1st Flying Training Squadron in Pueblo, Colo., according to a press release. The two men, whose full names are not being released by the Air Force, are part of the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class (EPIC) program, which began on Oct. 12. Under the program, enlisted airmen will be trained to fly remotely piloted aircraft as part of a larger Air Force initiative to address an RPA pilot shortage. The master sergeants are training with two other enlisted airmen and 20 officers to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk. After completing Initial Flight Training in Pueblo, they will continue to RPA-focused training at JBSA-Randolph, Texas, and then Basic Qualification Training at Beale AFB, Calif. The program is usually completed in about one year. While thousands of enlisted pilots trained and flew operations during the World Wars in the first half of the 20th century, last week’s enlisted solo flights were the first since the Cadet Aviation Program ended in 1961, according to the Air Force.