Drone pilots now working out of Houston

Houston Chronicle:


Inside a windowless room at Houston’s Ellington Airport, the 36-year-old major with the Texas Air National Guard will sit down at the controls of a Predator drone as it cruises over insurgent hideouts and convoy routes in Afghanistan or Iraq.

Although it’s late afternoon in Houston, the sun is about to rise in the combat zone.

Via satellite, Stiles will talk to ground troops on the front lines who depend on the high-resolution, real-time images collected by his Predator’s sensors. He will look for evidence of bombs planted in or alongside roadways, or suspicious people carrying weapons on rugged mountain trails.

“You might be doing a convoy escort, guys moving 20 to 30 vehicles from point A to point B, and you’re just scanning ahead of them, trying to make sure no one is going to ambush them,” Stiles said. “It kinda gives ’em a warm, fuzzy feeling to know there’s somebody up there looking after them.”


“Sometimes I’ll hear guys screaming and gunfire in the background,” he said. “Your heart’s racing, probably just like theirs, even though you’re not actually there.”

There is much more.

In the past most of these flights have been controlled from a base in Nevada. It appears the pilots are now going to be at other locations in the US. This is great for the former F-16 pilots who are now Predator drivers who can be with their family more. It is also great for the troops to have more spies in the sky who can also be snipers.


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