The (Future) Right Stuff

Capt. Nicholas Helms, a 26-year-old former F-16 pilot, is the nation’s first drone test pilot trainee. He is currently enrolled at the US Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards AFB, Calif. The Los Angeles Times reports that instructors are training Helms how to provide feedback to contractors building remotely piloted aircraft—a move officials hope will help eliminate future RPA design flaws. “My focus is on fixing the design errors and communicating the requirement for good design,” stated Helms. He also will develop protocols for flying RPA. His presence at the school “is another sign of the Pentagon’s historic shift to drones,” states the newspaper. The test pilot school is setting aside two slots for RPA pilots in this year’s classes. Subsequent classes are expected to have even more slots for RPA pilots.