The Air Force’s first enlisted female pilot has graduated from Undergraduate Remotely Piloted Aircraft Training, Air Force officials said.
Tech. Sgt. Courtney completed the course last week, making her the first enlisted woman to graduate from the training. The Air Force does not release the last names of RPA pilots to protect their identities.
The Air Force in December 2015 said it would let enlisted airmen train as RPA pilots, and Courtney is a part of that first group of candidates, also known as the Enlisted Pilot Initial Class or EPIC.
According to Air Force officials, twelve EPIC students were selected to attend training in October 2016, and the first three graduated on May 5.
“Tech. Sgt. Courtney doesn’t do this because she’s a girl, she just gets up every day and puts her uniform on and comes to work and kicks butt because that’s what she does,” said Maj. Natalie, an instructor pilot with the 558th Flying Training Squadron. “That’s who she is. She’s not a woman pilot, she’s a pilot.”
Courtney said “it‘s great” to be the first female, ”but our units don’t care if you’re male or female, they just want you to be a good pilot.”
RPA pilots train for six months in the left seat of an RPA control center during flight, said the Air Force, while sensor operators spend six weeks in the right seat controlling cameras mounted on the RPA.
Courtney, an 11-year airman, has been part of the intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance career field, including serving as a sensor operator for the MQ-1 Predator and RQ-4 Global Hawk.
“I’ve been sitting in the right seat for a long time, so now I’m ready to sit in the left seat,” she said.