by Tech. Sgt. Nadine Y. Barclay
432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
7/29/2015 - CREECH AIR FORCE BASE, Nevada -- By
the end of World War II endless possibilities were brought to one man's
prophecy that would set the stage for modern day of aviation.
General Henry H. "Hap" Arnold made a startling prediction: "We have just
won a war with a lot of heroes flying around in planes. The next war
may be fought by airplanes with no men in them at all...."
Although the bold vision of pilotless aircraft fighting America's wars
was premature, Arnold's prophecy is coming true as the 11th
Reconnaissance Squadron at Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, celebrates its
20th anniversary flying remotely piloted aircraft.
On July 29, 1995, the 11th RS was activated at the then Indian Springs
Air Force Auxiliary Field, Nevada, as the Air Force's first dedicated
RPA unit when it assumed operational control of the medium altitude,
long endurance RQ-1 Predator aircraft.
"I am very proud of my Airmen," said Lt. Col. Leland Cowie, 11th RS
commander. "Both those conducting our critical mission in garrison and
those currently deployed in harm's way flying RPAs."
Since conducting the first flight of the Predator on Dec. 13, 1996, the
11th RS has seen many firsts to include: the first successful deployment
of a Hellfire missile, the first lost aircraft during an engagement
between an RPA and a manned aircraft while enforcing the No Fly Zone in
Iraq, and the relinquishment of its direct combat support role to become
the Air Force's first Predator formal training unit.
Today the 11th RS is responsible for conducting all MQ-1 Predator and
the MQ-9 Reaper aircrew launch and recovery initial qualifications
training, as well as operator upgrade training and trains an average of
360 Airmen annually.
"What I have learned to do here is important to me because you can't put
a price tag on saving a life," said Senior Airman Shantae, 11th RS
instructor sensor operator. "This is a highly demanding job that
requires a lot of professionalism. People depend on you, lives depend on
The 11th RS can trace its lineage back 73 years to the activation on
March 2, 1942 of the 11th Observation Squadron by the U.S. Army Air
Forces at Wheeler-Sack Field, New York.
"We've only scratched the surface with RPAs," said James Clark,
Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Innovation director. "So
from World War I RPAs to World War II to Desert Storm to Vietnam, we are
at the beginning of a revolution, it's exciting and Creech is the home
of this revolution."
Since then it was also the 11th Reconnaissance Squadron for fighter
aircraft and the 11th Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron where it joined
the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing, which would later become the
432nd Wing at Creech AFB, Nevada.
The mission on the 11th RS is to instill the Airmanship required to make
critical decisions in unforgiving phases of flight enabling remotely
piloted airpower for the joint force commanders at any time and place
across the globe.
"What we do here every day is important vital to the mission downrange,"
said Col. Cunningham, 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing
commander. "Today is a great day as we celebrate 20 years of making
history and you and your Airmen should be proud."
Although decades have passed since Arnold's initial prediction his words
still ring true as the Airmen of the RPA enterprise continue to make
unprecedented strides in modern day aviation.
"Take everything you've learned about aviation in war, throw it out of
the window, and let's go to work on tomorrow's aviation," said Arnold.
"It will be different from anything the world has ever seen."