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147th Reconnaissance Wing reaches 100K flying hours on MQ-1 Predator

An MQ-1B Predator from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, is parked at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 31, 2015. Wing members mobilized with other members of the wing to the Baltic nation where they deployed an entire MQ-1B Predator package, launching and recovering the first large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

An MQ-1B Predator from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, based at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston, is parked at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, Aug. 31, 2015. Wing members mobilized with other members of the wing to the Baltic nation where they deployed an entire MQ-1B Predator package, launching and recovering the first large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy/Released)

A 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, sensor operator monitors the sensor of an MQ-1 Predator in Latvian airspace Sept. 1, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. The flight marked the first launch and recover of a large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy)

A 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, sensor operator monitors the sensor of an MQ-1 Predator in Latvian airspace Sept. 1, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. The flight marked the first launch and recover of a large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy)

A 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, MQ-1 Predator flies in Latvian airspace Sept. 1, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. The flight marked the first launch and recover of a large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy)

A 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, MQ-1 Predator flies in Latvian airspace Sept. 1, 2015, at Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia. The flight marked the first launch and recover of a large-scale remotely piloted aircraft in Latvia. (Air National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Alicia Lacy)

Members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing Maintenance Wing open the crate holding an MQ-1 Predator at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston on August 18, 2009. The wing transitioned from the F-16 to the MQ-1 and this is the first Predator delivered to the unit.

Members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing Maintenance Wing open the crate holding an MQ-1 Predator at Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston on August 18, 2009. The wing transitioned from the F-16 to the MQ-1 and this is the first Predator delivered to the unit.

November 8, 2011 -- HOUSTON, Texas - Achieving 100,000 flying hours takes years to realize.
But for the members of the 147th Reconnaissance Wing, Texas Air National Guard, conquering this incredible feat is just a testament to their hard work and dedication to their mission.

The wing accomplished the milestone Oct. 8, 2015, just seven short years after receiving its new mission to fly the MQ-1B Predator.

In 2005, the Department of Defense recommended retiring the then-147th Fighter Wing's F-16 Fighting Falcons and replacing them with the reconnaissance aircraft, with plans for the unit to be fully equipped and operational by 2009.

This change required airmen to adjust and re-train on a new aircraft that began its initial operational capability in the U.S. Air Force only a few years before the wing took its first flight July 2008.

"There have been many milestones along the way for the 111th (Reconnaissance Squadron) since Ellington took on this mission, and there will continue to be more, but this is a very significant accomplishment," said Lt. Col. David Peck, 111th Reconnaissance Squadron commander. "To put 100,000 hours in context, that amount of time is equivalent to flying for 11.41 years non-stop, and we did it in just seven years."

Due to the unique structure of the National Guard, pilots can fly in different statuses from domestic Title 32 missions and federal Title 10 hours to flight hours during training exercises; however, the 100,000-hour milestone was all done while on federal Title 10 status.

The accomplishment cannot only be attributed to the pilots who fly the mission, but to the entire wing, from the member charged with writing orders to the maintainers who keep the aircraft mission ready and the combatant commanders who use the aircraft in theater.

"We have had to forge and maintain working relationships with a host of organizations over the years," Peck said. "Additionally, we count on support from our advocates at NGB to give us the funding, manpower and voice we need to enable these missions.
In addition to the one team, one fight mentality, guard members accumulate years of experience, acquiring the expertise to be proficient in their jobs.

"What is not to be overlooked is the substantial amount of experience the Guard, and the 111th in particular, brings to the MQ-1 community," Peck said. "I first began to fly the Predator in 2005. Over a decade later, I am still doing the same mission."

"Many other members of the 111th have employed this asset for roughly the same amount of time," he added. "That is experience that active duty simply cannot match, and the squadron anticipated converting to the MQ-9 within the next 18-24 months, and when that happens, I'm confident that our squadron will continue to be an 'Ace in the Hole' for the combatant commanders."

"I deeply appreciate the constant hard work and professionalism required by the 147th Reconnaissance Wing to accomplish this milestone, and the great state of Texas can expect impressive achievements from the 147th for years to come," said Col. Gary Jones, vice wing commander.