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Throughout its history as an independent service, The Air Force has required its aircraft to be piloted by commissioned officers — until now.
On Aug. 4, four airmen in the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class completed Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Among them was Tech Sgt. Courtney, the Air Force’s first female enlisted pilot.
“Tech. Sgt. Courtney doesn’t do this because she’s a girl, she just gets up every day and puts her uniform on and comes to work and kicks butt because that’s what she does,” said Maj. Natalie, an instructor pilot with the 558th Flying Training Squadron, told the Air Force in a statement. “That’s who she is. She’s not a woman pilot, she’s a pilot.”
In December 2015, the Air Force made the decision to train enlisted airmen to operate remotely piloted aircraft — more commonly known as drones. In August 2016, the Air Force allowed for enlisted airmen in all Air Force Specialty Codes to apply to be RPA pilots. While 4,000 were initially permitted to apply, the change made more than 87,000 airmen eligible.
During training, the pilots-to-be spend six months sitting the left seat of the control center during flight. They spend another six weeks training to become sensor operators in the right seat, with control cameras mounted on the drones.
"I'm proud to be able to fill that role," Tech. Sgt. Courtney told KEN5 San Antonio. "I'm excited for what it holds and, hopefully, it encourages other young women. It's also nerve-racking because I don't want to just be the first female pilot. I want to be a good pilot regardless of whether I'm a female or male."
Courtney, who has been in the Air Force for 11 years, is one among a class of enlisted trailblazers. Her classmate, Staff Sgt. Matthew, was the top graduate in his Air Force undergraduate remotely piloted aircraft training class. The pair completed their sensor training course, which lasted six weeks, along with two master sergeants, two senior officers, and 14 newly commissioned officers.
U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Courtney, has her remote piloted aircraft wings pinned on by her sons David and Riley during the 558th Flying Training Squadron's Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training Course graduation August 4, 2017, at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, Texas. Tech. Sgt. Courtney is the first-ever enlisted female to qualify as an RPA pilot. Name badges were blurred due to Air Force limits on disclosure of identifying information for RPA operators.Air Force photo
The Air Force did not release the airmen’s surnames for security purposes.
“This is a testament to the Air Force assessing and selecting highly competent Airmen who, from day one, strive for the perfection required in the intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and attack missions they will fly every day,” Lt. Col. Jason Thompson, the 558th FTS commander, said in a press release.
The Air Force will continue to fill its RPA opening with a diverse array of candidates.
“It’s great to fill that role as the first female,” Courtney said. “It’s awesome and humbling, but our units don’t care if you’re male or female, they just want you to be a good pilot.”
At least 4 American veterans among group arrested in Haiti with arsenal of weapons and tactical gear
At least four American veterans were among a group of eight men arrested by police in Haiti earlier this week for driving without license plates and possessing an arsenal of weaponry and tactical gear.
Police in Port-au-Prince arrested five Americans, two Serbians, and one Haitian man at a police checkpoint on Sunday, according to The Miami-Herald. The men told police they were on a "government mission" but did not specify for which government, according to The Herald.
They also told police that "their boss was going to call their boss," implying that someone high in Haiti's government would vouch for them and secure their release, Herald reporter Jacqueline Charles told NPR.
What they were actually doing or who they were potentially working for remains unclear. A State Department spokesperson told Task & Purpose they were aware that Haitian police arrested a "group of individuals, including some U.S. citizens," but declined to answer whether the men were employed by or operating under contract with the U.S. government.
Have you ever wondered what would happen if the employee behind a firearm company's Facebook page decided to goaded a bunch of Marines into destroying their brand new firearms? Now you know.
A top Senate Republican and fierce ally of President Donald Trump reportedly exploded at Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan recently about the U.S. military's plans to withdraw all troops from Syria by the end of April.
"That's the dumbest f******g idea I've ever heard," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly replied when Shanahan confirmed the Trump administration still plans to complete the Syria withdrawal by April 30.
Later, Graham told Shanahan, "I am now your adversary, not your friend."
If you are in the market for any size of military surplus vehicle, keep an eye on GovPlanet. The online auction house is about to start selling U.S. Navy and Marine Corps surplus M1161 ITV Growlers and seven-ton Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement trucks.
The White House will keep challenging the Pentagon on the threat of climate change until it gets an answer it likes
The definition of insanity, the old saying goes, is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result — a definition that applies perfectly to the Trump administration's response to the looming national security threat of global climate change.