Predator Training Unit Insources Chase Aircraft

The Air National Guard’s 163rd Reconnaissance Wing at March ARB, Calif., has begun using Air Force Reserve Command-owned T-41C Cessnas to serve as chase aircraft to support its MQ-1 Predator training activities. Previously the wing was using civilian-contracted chase airplanes. For safety reasons, the FAA requires a chase airplane to accompany the Predators from their takeoff at Southern California Logistics Airport in Victorville until they reach the airspace of Edwards Air Force Base. The Predator training unit worked out a deal with AFRC’s 452nd Air Mobility Wing at March to rent Cessnas belonging to the latter’s aero club. This change is expected to save almost $100,000 annually and give 163rd RW pilots the opportunity to keep their commercial pilot ratings current. “This is the first time in history that an aero club has become mission capable,” said Jerry Cardinal, AFRC services director. (March report by SSgt. Paul Duquette)