Meet the U.S. "Chair" Force
January 23rd, 2012
05:06 PM ET

Meet the U.S. "Chair" Force

For the first time, the Air Force has trained two drone pilots who have never flown actual planes, Time's Mark Thompson reports on Battleland blog.

The two pilots, trained to fly the RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aircraft, have the designation of 18X field, signifying they don't have prior flying experience.

The program at Beale Air Force Base was set up in June 2011 to train drone pilots "across the services."  The two pilots will begin flying missions immediately, according to the Air Force.

Curiously, Thompson notes, the Air Force posted their photo but would only give their first names – Second Lieutenants Jacob and Scott – because of "operational concerns." But the concern did not extend to their photographs, which the Air Force provided.


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Filed under: Air Force • drones • Military
soundoff (21 Responses)
  1. Tom

    Imagine the world with your coutry under Russian occupation. Register in a free game
    Fight for independence! Your country needs you!

    February 1, 2012 at 5:55 am | Reply
  2. Brett

    All Right all you gamers, start cramming your Country needs You!!

    January 26, 2012 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  3. Jack

    Hard evidence that Obama & his media elites at heart want to gut the military and the first step is altering the public perception of the service rendered by men and women in uniform.

    January 25, 2012 at 2:18 am | Reply
    • The War Criminal General Sherman

      A colossal waste of money. Empires bankrupt nations. We're next.

      January 25, 2012 at 9:50 am | Reply
  4. Sanchanim

    It is good to see they aren't just using real pilots as drone operators. These are great tools and I think the operation of drones will be expanded. You can fly them with mid air refueling for a long time and swap out pilots mid operation, and keep it up in the air.
    In the end they are also cheaper than lets say an F-16. Pilot training isn't nearly as expensive and they have nice chairs to sit in, so we aren't putting them in harms way. Not saying I don't have the deepest respect for the guys on the ground, but if there is a way to minimize people at risk then it is a good thing.

    January 24, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Reply
    • AmesIA

      An experienced pilot develops and innate feel for an airplane at the corners of its capability (near stall etc.) coupled with an education in the physics of the flight dynamics. A drone pilot misses this "seat of the pants" experience which could hinder their ability to respond correctly in event of an unexpected scenario.

      January 26, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Reply
  5. The War Criminal General Sherman

    Keep on indiscriminately slaughtering women and children, fudge-packers.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:35 pm | Reply
  6. Chair Force Warrior

    Really? That's the best you could do with the headline? A cutsey little barb to help celebrate an important moment in these pilot's lives? This "Chair Force" just happens to be the most lethal group of air warriors on the planet. Count yourself lucky that you'll never get to experience first-hand the kinetic results of a combat mission with these guys. Instead, you can sit there in your chair making up more juvenile headlines and tittering to yourself.

    January 24, 2012 at 7:50 am | Reply
    • ranger 830

      Roger that we love the drones! They do a good job keepin us out of the shit!!!!!! Thank you chair force from a filthy grunt! RLTW.

      January 24, 2012 at 9:26 am | Reply
      • A Vet!

        There is not such thing as a DIRTY GRUNT! We all serve one way or another, either ground pounding, at sea or in the air. We get the job done!!!!

        January 24, 2012 at 11:59 am |
    • Cavmed

      you realize, of course, that the RQ-4 is an unarmed surveillance drone...right? But the hunter-killer drones, such as the MQ-9, ARE lethal combatants, flown by real pilots, from the ground.

      January 24, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Reply
      • Bored

        You realize, of course, that one of these planes was responsible for about 80% of all ground targeting in the opening days of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

        January 24, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  7. ChicagoRich

    I wonder if veterans who have suffered injuries that prevent them from returning to the theater of battle, but whose injuries would not impede them from operating these drones ought to be given the option or opportunity to train for the positions operating these drones. It seems to me that many would have valuable knowledge from their prior training, and they would maintain a serious motivation to continue to do an excellent job for our country. Such individuals could be a valuable resource and the situation could be a benefit to everyone.

    January 24, 2012 at 4:17 am | Reply
    • mipolitic

      thumbs up !! good point . perhaps you should send that in to the chiefs

      January 24, 2012 at 6:02 am | Reply
    • Daniel

      I think that would be a great idea. Actually maybe they never flew an aircraft, but if you served on the ground that would actually be a benefit. Understanding ground movements if you are giving close support is critical.

      January 24, 2012 at 8:33 pm | Reply
  8. Dan

    Wow, you come up with that headline all by yourself? You know, it's posts like these, that try to take below-the-belt shots at our servicemembers who volunteered to defend this country and the Constitution for which it was founded on, that make organizations like Time and CNN, its parent company, perceived as journalistic outlets lacking integrity and professionalism.

    January 24, 2012 at 12:35 am | Reply
    • Charlotte

      As an Active Duty Air Force member, thank you.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • brant

      It sounds like you're predisposed to disliking Time / CNN and are looking for whatever passing insult you can latch onto for your mock outrage. I spent 14 years in uniform (and another 20 growing up in a military family) and had no problem at all with the headline. Let's save the indignance for the things that actually matter, and not waste it on headline writing for newsblogs.

      January 24, 2012 at 6:36 am | Reply
    • Still Serving

      No Brant, I'm still in and I thought it was a cheap shot too - and I fully agree with Dan - so how about backing off the snide comments about "mock outrage" and going back to whatever it is you do when not taking pot shots people because their opinion differs from yours...

      January 24, 2012 at 10:44 am | Reply
  9. Sayan Majumdar

    From my own experience on simulators I can say that landing the drone will be the hardest part as from the ‘Initial Point’ the runway appears as small as a matchbox.


    January 24, 2012 at 12:18 am | Reply
    • Paul

      I believe that most of these drones can land themselves. Part of their fail-safe systems.

      January 24, 2012 at 2:25 pm | Reply

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