BEALE AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.-- --
The 12th Reconnaissance Squadron began a Companion Trainer Program (CTP) at the Yuba County Airport in Olivehurst, California Aug. 27, 2018.
The CTP is a new program funded through the Squadron Innovation Fund where 12th RS RQ-4 Global Hawk pilots fly manned aircraft with the help of the Beale Aero Club.
“The intent is to take pilots who have limited flying experience and expose them to flying inside the national airspace system,” said Capt. Sean, 12th RS flight commander. “This is to help build better aviation fundamental skills and build better RQ-4 pilots.”
According to Sean, the program is designed for remotely piloted aircraft pilots to build skills such as situational awareness, radio communication, and an intuition on how aircraft react to certain inputs.
The CPT is similar to the Aviation Fundamentals Training (AFT) program the 1st Reconnaissance Squadron began earlier this year. Both programs take RQ-4 pilots with limited flying experience and ensure they receive more experience in the local airspace by flying small, propeller-driven, aircraft.
“I think the fact we can get RPA pilot in an aircraft flying and talking on the radio is very beneficial,” Master Sgt. Michael, 12 RS RQ-4 pilot who also went through the first AFT class. “We are going to get pilots who are more confident and experienced. I think it is going to make us better pilots when we go sit in a seat behind an RPA and we are flying an aircraft that is halfway around the world.”
The 1st RS and the 12th RS worked closely when designing their training to help create their new innovative programs.
“Pilots will go through the 1st RS and they will have a companion trainer while they are in the Formal Training Unit,” Sean said. “Then we would like to pick them up when they come from the FTU and roll them directly into the 12th RS CTP. The combination of those programs should give them a certain number of hours designed to help build an overarching set of aviation related skills.”
AFT has shown promising result so far and Sean believes the CTP will have a positive impact on 12th RS reconnaissance capabilities and the Air Force mission as a whole.
“Our mission is a no fail mission,” Sean said. “I think if we have aviators with better airmanship and better foundational skills, we will have pilots who will be able to more safely and effectively accomplish the mission.”