Image of the Air Force wings with the museum name underneath

Open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. 
FREE Admission & Parking

Enlisted RPA Pilots

Controlled from a station on the ground, Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) fly without anyone on board. They use high-tech sensors to collect near-real-time intelligence—a valuable asset in both war and peacetime.

Although unmanned, RPAs still require highly trained operators to pilot the aircraft, analyze images, and act on gathered information. Traditionally only available to officers, three enlisted Airmen completed RPA pilot training on May 5, 2017, making them the first enlisted US Air Force pilots in sixty years.

Flying the RQ-4 Global Hawk, their contributions had an immediate impact on USAF intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions which sorely needed more RPA pilots. Training enlisted RPA pilots helped ease the pilot shortage and tapped into the talent of enlisted Airmen.

The success of training enlisted RPA pilots showed that ultimately, ability matters more than rank.

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