The “Right Stuff” for a Drone Pilot

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So wondering if you have what it takes to pilot one of those MQ-1 Predator or MQ-9 Reaper unmanned drones for the U.S. Air Force? Huh? Well, drones have pilots, just like more traditional aircraft. The only difference is the drone operator’s controls tend to be in some trailer – safely on the ground – far away from the drone itself.

The Air Force recently investigated what it takes to be a drone operator, and discovered…it doesn’t know. “The effective selection of Predator/Reaper pilot training candidates for such aircraft is essential to successful training and operational performance,” the study concludes. “However, a profile of `the right stuff’ (i.e., cognitive aptitudes, personality traits, and motivation) guiding aeromedical flight screening and selection processes for such pilots does not exist.”

Given the soaring demand for these pilots, the Air Force will be scurrying to see if what makes for a good cockpit pilot also makes for a good drone driver. Check out the report here.