I received this information from a future Reservist RPA pilot. Shoot me a message with more info and I’ll add posts to this section. I broke it down by each training course and I know it looks sparse now, but I plan to populate it with more info.
General RPA Info
At the moment there are definitely a lot of opportunities as far as active guard/reserve go, for those who don’t want to move around. Deployments are generally shorter, 3-4 months, and as far as I understand it people are usually volunteering for those more than being volun-told. Generally in the career field there are few pilots left who were assigned from other aircraft to RPA’s; at this point, everyone flying RPA’s WANTS to fly RPA’s. Every RPA pilot or maintainer I have met is exceptionally fired up about the career field. They are also expanding the number of bases to include more favorable bases in places other than the desert.
What’s cool about the RPA community is (generally) the attack mission. You see your work on the news on a daily basis. You get to go home to your family at the end of the day. You make a direct impact in war, and you directly help out your guys on the ground.
RPA Flight Training (RFT)
RPA training starts after OTS with RPA [Initial] Flight Training (RFT), which is the same as Initial Flight Training (IFT) out at Pueblo, CO. If you’re active duty, you’ll likely PCS to Randolph AFB before reporting to Pueblo. The specifics on that vary from person to person. Reservists generally report directly to Pueblo and move to Randolph at a later date.
RPA Instrument Qualification (RIQ)
After Pueblo, you’ll head to Randolph for 85 days of training called RPA Instrument Qualification (RIQ), which is essentially T-6 instrument training.
RPA Fundamentals Course (RFC)
After that, you’ll stay at Randolph for another 30 days to do RPA Fundamentals Course (RFC.)
Initial Flight Qualification (IFQ)
Finally, you’ll go to Initial Flight Qualification (IFQ) at either Holloman (NM), March (CA), or Beale (CA). Creech/Nellis may be in those cards as well, but I’ll get more specifics down the line. It is rather unlikely that CA will happen; Holloman is the primary base for the MQ-9 formal training at the moment.
As a reservist, I’ll be on 3 separate sets of orders the whole time. I also got paid BAH for my current home while I was at OTS, which made a big difference.
Tips to Succeed
A Major told me that you’ll know everything you need to know skill-wise out of school to complete your mission. To become a better pilot, you have to make a conscious decision to improve, and start thinking about the next steps ahead. For example, if you make a mistake, learn from it (simply put). Another example would be, if you turn at this particular angle now, where are you going to be in 5 minutes? In a good or bad position? How can you set yourself up for a good viewing angle 5-10-15-20-60 minutes down the road with what you do now?