RPA Operator Training Takes Another Big Step

The first class of young officers who entered the Air Force’s new and burgeoning career field for operating remotely piloted aircraft directly out of the Air Force Academy or ROTC has begun RPA pilot training at Randolph AFB, Tex. “These guys are a fresh canvas for instructors to build on; these guys have no past experience to muddy the waters, no bad habits to break,” said Lt. Col. Russell, director of operations for Randolph’s 558th Flying Training Squadron. After being commissioned, this group of eight second lieutenants spent more than two months in Pueblo, Colo., for initial flight training. At Randolph, their training consists of the RPA instrument qualification, or RIQ, course and the RPA fundamentals course. After completing their instruction at Randolph, they will move on to Creech AFB, Nev., or Holloman AFB, N.M., for additional training. Then it’s on to their operational assignments. Prior to them, the officers who trained to fly RPA came from other career fields. (Randolph report by Robert Goetz) (For more on RPA operator training, read Putting the Pilot in the RPAs from Air Force Magazine’s 2010 archive)