CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. --
Aircrew, maintainers and support personnel with the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing displayed the MQ-9 Reaper at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia for the Air Power Over Hampton Roads airshow, May 18-20, 2018.
432nd WG Airmen made the journey to Langley AFB, Air Combat Command headquarters, to help members of ACC, as well as the local community, understand how the Remotely Piloted Aircraft enterprise works alongside other U.S. Air Force assets.
The airshow kicked off with a practice show for Department of Defense cardholders and families on Friday evening but came to an early close due to excessive rain.
However, the Airmen of the Reaper crew and other air show enthusiasts were not deterred by the cloudy skies. The Hunters were still eager to inform the community and answer every question inspired by what visitors may have seen on television.
“I think the size is the most surprising thing about the MQ-9,” said Sylvia Ransone, Hampton, Virginia native and APOHR attendee. “I recall hearing on the news that an RPA was delivering strikes to the [Middle East], but I never realized they’d have to be this size to carry that weaponry so this is neat to see.”
Many of the MQ-9 Airmen were shocked by how many spectators didn’t understand the 432nd WG’s objectives.
“I didn’t realize there were so many misconceptions about the MQ-9 and its mission,” said 1st Lt. Nick, 489th Attack Squadron MQ-9 Pilot. “I’m just really excited we were able to educate the public about our mission and how we protect the warfighter as well as non-combatants in our various areas of responsibility.”
While touring the show with family, commander of ACC, Gen. Mike Holmes, took the time to stop by the 432nd WG display and talk to Airmen. During this time, he also expressed why he believes having the MQ-9 at ACC headquarters is an important milestone.
“We’re really happy to have (the Reaper) here,” said Holmes. “We think of our Combat Air Forces as made up of our conventional fighters and of our persistent attack and reconnaissance enterprise. They work together and we’re working on ways to help them work together more and more every day. Ultimately we’re proud that the people at Hampton Roads will get to see the airplanes and the people from team Creech that are out there around the world 24/7 working for them.”
The 432nd WG Airmen also spoke about their experiences integrating with other aircraft when delivering justice to our nation’s enemies and saving innocent lives overseas.
“The MQ-9’s strengths of a long loiter time and increased battlespace awareness where we can identify and see what’s happening on the ground for hours give us the ability to find those forces that are meaning to do our guys harm,” Nick said. “From there, other fast-moving assets come in with their ordnance and usually after we’ve exhausted ours, we can assist them in delivering theirs with increased accuracy to ensure that our guys and innocent civilians stay safe on the ground.”
Events like this air show provide Reaper aircrew and maintainers a chance to correct common misunderstandings such as the MQ-9 having the capability to fly itself.
This is the fourth airshow the Reaper has attended this season. With the goal of keeping the public and the RPA community informed, Creech plans to continue visiting future airshows across the United States.
For coverage of past and upcoming airshows, please like Creech Air Force Base on Facebook and follow Creech_afb on Twitter.