Goodfellow dedicates Predator

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Stephen Musal
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs
The MQ-1 Predator, a small, deadly unmanned aerial system, is all over the news, flying missions over Iraq and Afghanistan, gathering intelligence and providing bombs-on-target support to our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines. The sensor operators on these missions were first trained at Goodfellow Air Force Base as imagery analysts. Now, Goodfellow has a Predator of its own.

The RQ-1K Predator (the designation changed from RQ-1 to MQ-1 in 2002, when the Air Force armed the UAS with AGM-114 Hellfire missiles) on Goodfellow entered the Air Force inventory in 1997 and was immediately deployed to Bosnia. According to Chad Dull, 17th Training Wing historian, the Predator, designated "Tail 13," was deployed on a "suicide" mission to locate surface-to-air missiles.

Though the operators lost communications with the UAS early in the mission, the craft returned to base six hours later, allowing the operators to land the Predator. Among the operators on that mission was then-Senior Airman Andrew Reindl. Now, Master Sgt. Reindl is an instructor at the imagery analysis course with the 315th Training Squadron, teaching the next generation of Predator sensor operators as well as traditional imagery analysts.

Sergeant Reindl joined Col. Richard Ayres, 17th Training Wing commander, Mr. Dull and Dale Werner, 17th Training Support Squadron, Wednesday in cutting a ribbon and unveiling the names of the crew painted on the Predator static display.

"This definitely has the potential to be one of our most impressive displays," Mr. Dull said. "And that's saying something, because we already have such a great display program." Aircraft on display at Air Force installations are owned by the National Museum of the Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio., and are assigned on loan to Air Force units.

The path to getting this display began five years ago with a request submitted by Dr. John Garrett, then the 17 TRW historian. Predators did not become available for display in the Air Force until 2008, when the museum offered one to Creech Air Force Base, Nev., based on their operational mission, and one to Goodfellow, based on our history of training imagery analysts. The museum also has a predator on display.

The Predator arrived here in late 2008, but it needed a "landing pad" before it could be displayed.

"Dr. Garrett started this project right," Mr. Dull said, "and I want to make sure it's finished right." When the display site was completed this month, Mr. Dull, Mr. Werner and a team of technical training students on casual status finished the assembly of the aircraft and moved it to the display site.

"Getting this aircraft here is a success story," Mr. Dull said. Goodfellow's Predator is the first outdoor display. It's fitting that we have one of the first Predators on display, Mr. Dull said.

"Goodfellow graduates have exploited thousands of Predator sorties as crew members," he said. In addition to imagery analysts and sensor operators, "Goodfellow currently trains geospatial intelligence analysts, fusion analysts, cryptolinguists and intelligence officers who play critical roles in employing the Predator to find, fix and destroy enemy forces."