UAV School

Teaching soldiers to fly remote control planes at Fort Huachuca.

Most of the teaching here at Fort Huachuca, from federal flight regulations to the operation of the drones’ infrared cameras, is done by outside contractors. Bill Hempel’s specialty is training “external pilots” — the guys who use twin joysticks to take off and land the 23-foot-long, split-tailed Hunter UAVs. It’s kind of an unmanned master class; only soldiers who already know how to keep a drone in the air — which is just a matter of pointing and clicking, really — can sign up for external pilot duties.

“We take these Army guys who don’t know the front end of an airplane from the back, and we teach them from scratch all the aviation they need to make them pilots,” he explains.

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