JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C. --
Remotely piloted aircraft pilots, sensor operators and maintenance personnel from Creech Air Force Base, Nev., showcased their MQ-9 Reaper alongside science, technology, engineering and math displays April 27-28, 2018, at the Joint Base Charleston Air & Space Expo at JB Charleston, S.C.
During the air show, these MQ-9 crews answered the many questions of eager spectators of all ages, most of whom had never seen an RPA in person before.
“In terms of educating the public, I think the air show went really well,” said 1st Lt. Ryan, 489th Attack Squadron pilot. “A lot of people had an idea of what we do, some more than others, but they all asked a lot of questions and I think getting out to see it in person gave them a better idea of our mission.”
Ryan went on to say that most of the information people know about the MQ-9 may not always be completely accurate so being able to provide the most factual information possible first-hand is really beneficial.
Since the MQ-9 Reaper is still a relatively new asset, many of the questions from spectators were general-knowledge based.
“Many people are familiar with jet fighters but since we’re still such a new technology they were very curious as to how we affect the battlespace,” said Senior Airman Colton, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons system technician.
The Reaper crews briefed the aircraft’s capabilities and how they integrate with joint and coalition platforms to provide persistent attack and reconnaissance to deliver justice to the nation’s enemies 24/7/365.
“People were really surprised at how efficient this aircraft is at what it does,” Colton said. “When I would tell people the accuracy of the weapons we employ and the cost of the system relative to the maintenance hours we have to put in, they were overall really impressed with the aircraft.”
Colton explained that many of the questions children were asked, one of his favorites was, “where does the pilot sit?” because they didn’t understand there’s no one physically in the aircraft.
To answer the question, he compares the satellite connections to a remote control plane the children might have at home, to which the looks on their faces were of utter surprise.
In fact, he loved briefing the children because attending air shows had indeed impacted his own decision to join the Air Force.
“I remember being a little kid and going to air shows and I was always in awe of the aircraft and airpower in general,” he said. “Twenty years later as an Airman myself, it’s very rewarding to interact with the kids because you never know which ones are going to grow up and join the Air Force.”
In total, the air show hosted more than 80,000 spectators and 50 displays including statics such as the C-5M Supergalaxy, B-1B Lancer and more. The expo also included aerial acts including an F-16 Fighting Falcon, C-17 Globemaster II and other aircraft.
The MQ-9 Airmen who attended the event believe these air shows are a great tool and opportunity for the Air Force and the enterprise to educate the public on RPA operations.
“I think the public has a right to know what we do and what we offer,” Colton said. “Everyone loves to see the aircraft whether on the ground or in the air. This is a great opportunity to get out there and show them who we are, what we do and to generate interest.”
The MQ-9 Reaper is scheduled to appear at many more shows this year. To see if it’s coming to a show near you, please visit the Creech Air Force Base Facebook page or contact the Public Affairs office.