The 1st Reconnaissance Squadron is responsible for training all High-Altitude Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance aircrew for the U-2S Dragon Lady and the RQ-4 Global Hawk. Aircrew members consist of pilots and mission planners for the U-2S, and pilots and sensor operators for the RQ-4. Training for all U-2S pilots includes additional qualification in the T-38A Talon, the companion trainer to the U-2S.
The squadron flies over 5,400 U-2S/T-38A training hours and 2,400 RQ-4 combat support hours annually. Guided by the 9th Reconnaissance Wing motto “One team – One fight”, the rigorous flying training programs produce 24 U-2S pilots, 48 RQ-4 pilots, and 36 RQ-4 sensor operators annually. The squadron's outstanding record reflects the dedication and professionalism of the elite group of instructors, enlisted, and civilian members of the squadron.
Pilots and sensor operators who complete the approximately three month RQ-4 training syllabus become experts in high-altitude Remotely Piloted Aircraft operations and are assigned to the 12th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base, or the 348th Reconnaissance Squadron at Grand Forks Air Force Base. Pilots interested in flying the U-2S apply to the program voluntarily. They undergo an intensive two-week interview process in which their flying ability, judgment, and professionalism are evaluated over three flights in the TU-2S two-seat trainer. The applicants who successfully pass the interview process are assigned to the 1 RS where they begin training in the T-38A. Once they are qualified in the T-38A, pilots will complete the initial and high-altitude mission qualification in the U-2S and are assigned to the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron at Beale Air Force Base.
Over 100 active duty airmen, civilians, and contractors are assigned to the 1 RS. The unit operates the world’s only 5 TU-2S models in existence, and 11 T-38As. The 1 RS is aligned under the 9th Operations Group, 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, California.
The 1 RS is the United States military’s oldest flying unit, first established on 5 March 1913. The squadron has maintained an unbroken heritage from its founding to the present day. Originally organized in anticipation of a potential breach in security along the border between the U.S. and Mexico, General Pershing directed the 1st Aero Squadron to become the first tactical aviation unit to participate in American military action. During WWI, the 1st Aero Squadron participated in the four campaigns symbolized by crosses on the 9th Reconnaissance Wing patch. The 13 crosses on the squadron patch symbolize the 13 “kills” the 1st Aero Squadron won against German aircraft. While fighting in WWII, the then designated 1st Bombardment Squadron conducted low level incendiary attacks over Japan while flying B-29s, devastating a 15 square mile area of Tokyo. During the Vietnam War, the 1st Strategic Reconnaissance Squadron operated the SR-71 Blackbird. Flying over 2,000 mph at approximately 80,000 feet, the Blackbird gathered photographic and electronic intelligence products of the Southeast Asian nations involved in the Vietnam conflict. Throughout its history, the 1 RS has flown 47 different airframes while being stationed at 52 locations throughout the world, including 4 stints at sea.
The unit carries the following honors:
World War I:
World War II:
Air Offensive, Japan
Presidential Unit Citation: Vietnam and North Korea – 31 Mar – 31 Dec 1968
Distinguished Unit Citation: Kawasaki, Japan – 15 April – 16 April 1945
Shimonoseki Straits, Japan – 13 May – 28 May 1945
Meritorious Unit Award
1 June 2009 – 31 May 2011
Air Force Outstanding Unit Award
1 July 1967 – 30 June 1968
1 July 1970 – 30 June 1971
1 July 1971 – 30 June 1972
1 July 1973 – 30 June 1974 (with Combat “V” device)
1 July 1975 – 30 June 1977
1 July 1981 – 30 June 1982
1 July 1983 – 30 June 1984
1 July 1985 – 30 June 1986
1 July 1986 – 30 June 1987
1 July 1989 – 30 June 1990
1 September 1991 – 30 June 1993
1 July 1993 – 30 June 1994
1 July 1994 – 30 June 1995
1 June 1996 – 30 May 1998
1 June 1998 – 31 May 2000
1 June 2002 – 31 May 2004
1 June 2005 – 31 May 2007
1 June 2007 – 31 May 2009
1 June 2009 – 31 May 2010