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Posted (edited)

Is it confirmed that IFT is cancelled permanently for RPAs? If so, what does everyone think of this move and what does it mean for the future RPA community? I found IFT very helpful, and so when I see this it makes me wonder if the AF thinks that our community doesn’t deserve the airmanship or basic flying skills that you gain at IFT.

Edited by AnotherPenguin
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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, AnotherPenguin said:

it makes me wonder if the AF thinks that our community doesn’t deserve the airmanship or basic flying skills 

14333AAA-C78A-4F1A-BB8E-E15A81C7F195.jpeg.66e26fe1fb91ea49535bab322107c5c3.jpeg
AETC/AFPC as another RPA dude figures out their plan to meet the timeline by eventually reducing the syllabus to Mavis Beacon. 

Edited by SurelySerious
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5 hours ago, SurelySerious said:

14333AAA-C78A-4F1A-BB8E-E15A81C7F195.jpeg.66e26fe1fb91ea49535bab322107c5c3.jpeg
AETC/AFPC as another RPA dude figures out their plan to meet the timeline by eventually reducing the syllabus to Mavis Beacon. 

Seriously though. The amount of Beta test groups they had while I was at Randolph was ridiculous, and all of them made worse pilots than the traditional training. 

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7 hours ago, AnotherPenguin said:

Seriously though. The amount of Beta test groups they had while I was at Randolph was ridiculous, and all of them made worse pilots than the traditional training. 

Trend since 2011 at least in that community, unfortunately. 

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I know that the instrument training in RIQ is fulfilling a FAA mandate so that 18x Pilots can "legally" fly within the US airspace. But lets pause for a moment to think about the fact that now the only training you get before the FTU will be simulator T-6 instrument training, versus actual PIC time in a single engine aircraft. Does this mean students will get academics on VFR flying at Randolph?  If not, going directly to instrument training without the background knowledge of VFR and basic military flying seems pretty unreasonable to me. I don't want to say it...but if IFT does indeed get canxd for the 18x pipeline, we will be even further away from being pilots and getting real close to what rhymes with shmoperator. 

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8 hours ago, kuhnie17 said:

I know that the instrument training in RIQ is fulfilling a FAA mandate so that 18x Pilots can "legally" fly within the US airspace.

That's the official line. However the sims are not FAA certified, and neither is the course, otherwise youd be able to get FAA credit for it like people do for going through UPT. On that note why the are we even training in T6 sims? Why the heck should i care learning to sim fly a plane that has nothing to do with our mission?

8 hours ago, kuhnie17 said:

Does this mean students will get academics on VFR flying at Randolph? 

Yes. Although instructors at Randolph are aware and there is allegedly something in the works to address it, although its almost 100% going to be nonsense.

8 hours ago, kuhnie17 said:

If IFT does indeed get canxd for the 18x pipeline, we will be even further away from being pilots and getting real close to what rhymes with shmoperator. 

When IFT does get canceled COIVD has shown alot of the hidden cards on the table. We will be systems and information technology operators. Gen Holmes has suggested it with the future direction ACC wants to take RPAs, everyone on this board says it every time the topic comes up, we arent pilots. For along time there was nothing but disrespect for 18xers and we are dangerously close to slipping back into the old way of doing business (although we'll have better manning).

Eventually it would be beneficial for our own sanity if we take that word off of our AFSC. It could be even better if we consolidated the various RPAs enterprises across the services most likely centralizing it out of the USAF. Our near peer Russia and our sister services are much more open to developing these capabilities than we are. Good thing we keep spending lots of money on projects like the KC-46, or deliberately make it difficult to integrate RPA with low-income allies and then tout the need for a manned armed overwatch light attack aircraft to fill the exact niche. Personally if the bonus is still there I'll probably take it to the max and punch out at 20, if its anything less than other pilots ill take my chances outside.

 

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10 minutes ago, theoriginalturk said:

That's the official line. However the sims are not FAA certified, and neither is the course, otherwise youd be able to get FAA credit for it like people do for going through UPT. On that note why the are we even training in T6 sims? Why the heck should i care learning to sim fly a plane that has nothing to do with our mission?

I never understood the purpose of RIQ in the first place. Either, A) tell the FAA to pound sand re: instrument rating to fly CONUS because guess what, I can't use instruments in an airplane that doesn't have them installed even if I wanted to! or B) send everyone to a PPL & Instrument rating puppymill.

The latter option would take what, maybe 1-2 months and cost around < $20K? Issue studs iPads pre-loaded with study materials, have them take the written exams ahead of time, press. Mo pilots mo faster, and real instrument-rated ones rather than the BS hand-waive we get now from RND.

Make the RND phase < 2 months, RFC-only with some additional appropriate Air Force hazing / "how we fly in the AF" regs study. Do a handful of flights on the MQ-9ish sims like they do now, ship off to IQT.

Make me a king for a day and that's what we'd do.

And I disagree strongly about RPA Pilots not thinking of themselves as pilots. You're flying a multi-million dollar, fighter-jet-sized aircraft in domestic and international controlled airspace, at times 500' seperated in a stack with other manned and unmanned assets and your primary job is to deliver weapons that kill people under tight restrictions. Time/fuel/EPs/airspace/weapons, etc. are all your daily concerns. Not sure how folks feel like they're not "real pilots."

I came from a non-pilot manned flying background though so maybe I don't feel the same as pure 18Xers do.

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Posted (edited)
On 6/14/2020 at 5:48 PM, nsplayr said:

Make me a king for a day and that's what we'd do.

Id vote for you
 

On 6/14/2020 at 5:48 PM, nsplayr said:

 I disagree strongly about RPA Pilots not thinking of themselves as pilots. You're flying a multi-million dollar, fighter-jet-sized aircraft in domestic and international controlled airspace, at times 500' seperated in a stack with other manned and unmanned assets and your primary job is to deliver weapons that kill people under tight restrictions. Time/fuel/EPs/airspace/weapons, etc. are all your daily concerns. Not sure how folks feel like they're not "real pilots."

I came from a non-pilot manned flying background though so maybe I don't feel the same as pure 18Xers do.

Ive had a tough time reconciling this exact point for myself, and some days are better than others, but its a perpetual battle of imposters syndrome. Its sucks when people ask what i do, and i tell them I fly for the Air Force, only to see their hype melt away when I then tell them what I fly. Through the conversations ive had with civilian and military pilots alike over the past few years, its clear that we are not held in high regard by most other pilots or public enthusiasts (there are some that are professional, but alot are still openly hostile and believe that we are garbage and so is our MWS. Its self evident that there is a huge lack of investment into branching out of our niche, which given the technology we have today we could easily do, then big AF turns around and spends monies on things like the F15X or the KC46 and continues doing business the old way despite harping about contested environments at every opporutnity)

In aviation, people value training and competence, and RPAs seem to receive the least amount of training in the quickest span (given our responsibilities) with the least cohesion. I'm not fond of self-defeating or victim mentalities, and I understand that the 18X career field is still so new that we dont have alot of organic leadership but its tough to see if there still is a glass ceiling (it is undeniable there was one several years ago). It feels disingenuous if we are not interchangeable with pilots for opportunities or training then we should drop the word pilot from our vernacular; new wings, new training, new word.

Personally I'd feel like more of a pilot if at the end of FTU i was able to walk over to the airport and rent a C172 and take my wife for flight. While 18xers are qualified to take a 10,000lb multi-million dollar machine thats the size of an a10 and can be loaded with thousands of pounds of ordnance, we are less a less qualified than a 16 year old civil air patrol cadet in terms of being a pilot in the eyes of the FAA (or alot of our peers for that matter), the organization who sets the standards for aviation in the best country in the world, and thats embarrassing.

Edited by theoriginalturk

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6 hours ago, theoriginalturk said:

Id vote for you

Haha, thanks for the vote of confidence.

I hear ya on everything you're saying above and I can absolutely see how fresh 18Xers would feel that way. I did a bunch of flying deployments as a CSO and I'm a Major and in the Guard, so I guess I'm just at the stage of my life where if people don't think RPAs are cool I'm good with just internally telling them to EABOD and move on. Plus our entire wing is now RPA/Cyber/Intel so we're actually the "cool kids" on base relatively speaking lol. Totally different sight picture as a 1Lt at Creech/Cannon with zero deployments and other manned pilots/leadership shitting on you.

I don't have a lot of great answers to the issues you raised other than my recommendations of how I'd do training differently. I think even the bare minimum of some manned civilian flying during the pipeline helps gives guys confidence that, like you said, you could strap on a -172 for the weekend and go barnstorming around our great nation at a cool 85kts. That's not nothing. If you, as part of training, had guys with real FAA PPLs and Instrument ratings and a couple dozen hours of flying cross-country, in the WX, etc., that confidence boost I think would be meaningful.

It would be great if the AF put more emphasis on the role that RPA is playing in fighting the current fight, which allows for a bit of recapitalization and re-training time for the peer fight that is now the #1 focus. My belief is that the next-gen RPAs will have a big role in that peer fight as well as in CONUS civilian aviation (cargo namely) and that young 18Xers should have high hopes for what the future holds given their skill set.

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