Group at Creech AFB addressing anxiety among drone pilots

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AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth

An unmanned U.S. Predator drone flies over Kandahar Air Field, southern Afghanistan, on a moon-lit night, Jan. 31, 2010.

Thursday, Sept. 10, 2015|12:52 p.m.

Wanting to address the unique stress put on military drone operators, an Air Combat Command team is performing 2 days of interviews with Creech Flying force Base pilots and their families.

The meetings, which began today, belong to the Flying force’s freshly formed Culture and Process Improvement Program to attend to quality-of-life issues dealing with operators who fly the Reaper and Predator drones. The remote-controlled aircraft are commonly utilized for security and to carry out targeted strikes.

Creech, about 50 miles outside of Las Vegas, is one of the main stations for the objectives.

In recent months, the Air Force has actually acknowledged that its operations have actually put a significant amount of tension on a few of its drone pilots.

Although the pilots are commonly countless miles from the airplane they operate, scientists have actually discovered they experience mental health problems at the same rate as pilots of manned combat jets.

And with the military dealing with a scarcity of pilots and increased demand, pilots frequently log four times as lots of hours as manned-aircraft pilots.

“A great deal of presumptions were made over the years, and individuals do not recognize how demanding and exhausted the (drone) field is,” said Col. Troy Jackson, the officer leading the program.

The group’s visit to Creech is the first of 12 scheduled this month. The objective is to discover quick fixes to little problems and identify larger concerns dealing with drone pilots.

“This isn’t about taking care of chow halls, gyms or the other base facilities that have been looked at previously,” Jackson stated. “We want to offer the (drone pilot) community the very same level of holistic lifestyle and expert advancement as other weapon systems, and this is a step toward it.”

The group prepares to present its findings next month to the leader of the Air Combat Command.

To collect interviews with as many service members as possible, the team marketed its visits on a Facebook page and posted “Office Space” and “Household Individual” memes to a blog site. After unfavorable media attention about the memes, the team removed them from the blog site.

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