by Senior Airman Duane Morgan
174th Attack Wing Public Affairs
8/19/2014 - SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Members
of the 174th Attack Wing at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base here
and members of the media watched as an Air Force MQ-9 Reaper remotely
piloted aircraft taxied around the upper ramp for the first time Aug 19.
"In my mind it's a milestone the 174th has reached with the new mission
and getting the aircraft back here in Syracuse and taking off from
Hancock Field," said Chief Master Sgt. Russell Youngs, command chief
master sergeant of the 174th Attack Wing. "I know operations and
maintenance are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that it's going to
be a very safe operation. This is just one more first for this wing and
it's really a success story just having it out there on the taxiway."
Many of the 174th Attack Wing members enjoyed seeing the aircraft out on the taxiway.
"It's outstanding to see that we're taking steps to move forward," said
Col. John Balbierer, vice commander of the 174th Attack Wing. "It felt
good seeing the aircraft out there moving around."
Hancock Field is hoping to have the MQ-9s flying to and from the base in the near future.
"We're hoping that we do it sooner than later," said Youngs. "We already
support formal flying training from Wheeler-Sack Army airfield, so all
of our sensor operators and pilots are coming through the pipeline and
being trained. The Majority of the aircraft are launched from Fort Drum
and turned over to our students here in Syracuse."
Youngs would like for people to know just how valuable the aircraft is to the 174th mission.
"Once enough people realize how safe the aircraft is and see how much
effort is put into getting one into the air and the professionalism
behind it, I think our elected officials in the Federal Aviation
Administration will eventually realize this needs to happen," said
Youngs. "Things like how aircraft helped the wildfires in California.
It's just a matter of time before people realize how important that
aircraft could be in saving lives.
Youngs went on to discuss how the MQ-9 can held in a positive way.
"It doesn't always have to be in a negative sense, but there's so much
that can happen in a positive manner," Youngs said. "Hurricane relief a
few years ago, it would've been nice to have one overhead to get some
real-time video feed. When you think of the 274th Air Support Operation
Squadron working in Oswego with the Coast Guard maybe saving somebody's
life that's sailboat has capsized or personal watercraft has sank and
may need some help. So there are a couple good success stories there. I
think once we start flying here people realize the importance of the