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Enlisted RPA pilot board selects 30 Airmen for pilot training

JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The inaugural Enlisted Remotely Piloted Aircraft Pilot Selection Board has chosen 30 enlisted Airmen to fill fiscal year 2017/2018 training slots as a part of the deliberate approach to enhance the Air Force’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance mission.

The historic enlisted RPA pilot selection board convened at the Air Force Personnel Center Feb. 6-8 and selected two senior master sergeants, five master sergeants, nine technical sergeants, 14 staff sergeants and five alternates from about 200 active duty enlisted applicants from various Air Force Specialty Codes. These 30 Airmen join the Enlisted RPA Pilot program along with the 12 other Airmen from the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class , four of whom started training in October 2016. The Air Force plans for the number of enlisted RPA pilots to grow to 100 within four years.

To be considered for the selection board, Airmen had to hold a rank from staff sergeant through senior master sergeant and have six years of retainability from course graduation date. They were also required to complete the application, an Air Force initial flying class II physical examination plus a pilot qualification test, which is key in measuring aptitude for success in RPA pilot training.

“The selection board process mirrors that of the undergraduate flying training program as closely as possible,” said Senior Master Sgt. Dave Desilets, the Career Enlisted Aviator Assignments manager. “The board uses the ‘whole person’ concept to evaluate candidates.”

Candidates were evaluated based on their entire military personnel record and pilot candidate selection method, or PCSM, test score. The average PCSM score for those selected was 73 with overall select scores ranging from 55 to 96. Airmen who had already amassed off-duty flying hours were also able to apply that experience toward their PCSM, which Desilets said is the same scoring system used to select Air Force officer pilots.

Expanding opportunities in the RPA program is one of many ways the Air Force is tapping into the talent of its skilled, diverse and innovative enlisted force. Originally open to just career enlisted aviators, the Air Force opened the program to all enlisted AFSCs in August 2016 to allow more active duty Airmen to apply.

“This gives Airmen an opportunity to excel in a new way,” Desilets said. “We have an incredibly talented pool of enlisted Airmen, and we're confident that this rigorous selection process yielded excellent enlisted aircrew who will continue to provide combatant commanders with the ISR they need to win today's fight.”

The Air Force has plans to integrate enlisted pilots into RQ-4 Global Hawk flying operations, with the first two board-selected Airmen slated to begin Initial Flight Training at Pueblo Memorial Airport in Pueblo, Colorado, in April. The remaining EPIC and board-selected students are lined up to attend training throughout 2017 as training slots become available.

After IFT completion, students will progress through the RPA Instrument Qualification Course and RPA Fundamentals Course at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph and the Basic Qualification Training at Beale Air Force Base, California. The entire program spans almost a full year. The first two EPIC students are scheduled to graduate and receive their pilot wings in May.

“This proactive step will make the most of the capabilities of our enlisted force to provide options that build a more agile ISR force in the future, placing highly capable enlisted forces in a position to support the future threat environment," Desilets said.

The call for nominations for the 2018 Enlisted RPA Pilot selection board is scheduled for April.

The selection list has posted to myPers. To view the list, or for more information on the enlisted RPA pilot selection process, visit the active duty enlisted Retraining page, or select “Any” from the dropdown menu and search “Enlisted RPA.” Additional information is also available on the Air Force Portal Rated Assignments page.

For more information about Air Force personnel programs, go to myPers. Individuals who do not have a myPers account can request one by following these instructions.