Pfc. Cooper Martin, near, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 7th Infantry, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, and Pfc. Clinton Herold, far, an infantryman with 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT, pilot the Raven, a small unmanned aircraft system, during the Raven re-certification training, March 20, 2014, on the Fort Stewart, Ga., training area. Raven operators were paired in teams of a vehicle operator and a mission operator in order to be able to adapt to many reconnaissance, surveillance and training scenarios.

FORT STEWART, Ga. -- Raven operators of the 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, conducted recertification training on Fort Stewart, Ga., March 17-21.

Soldiers who are certified to operate Ravens, a small unmanned aircraft system, are required to fly at least every 150 days to maintain their certification status and this event was the first of its kind for the Vanguard Brigade since returning from its recent combat tour in Afghanistan.

"We got operators from every battalion that we could," said Sgt. Josh Pesicka, an infantryman and Raven master trainer with 3rd Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 4th IBCT.

The course was composed of previously trained operators, but there was a wide range of experience levels when it came to flight time and Pesicka said the training provided an opportunity to network those individuals.

"We're able to rotate through not just our trained crew that we have within our companies and battalions, but also match them up with people throughout their brigade," he said.

"Most of us, like myself, got qualified while we were deployed in Afghanistan," said Pfc. Clinton Herold, an infantryman with 3-15 Inf., and a native of Bend, Ore.

Ravens are operated by two-man teams, made up of a vehicle operator, who pilots the vehicle, and a mission operator, who maintains antenna direction and guides the mission through a specialized computer program.

While some teams only had a small amount of flight time as operators, Staff Sgt. Christopher Walker and Spc. Kerry Boothe, both infantrymen with 3-7 Inf., had quite a bit of experience to build on.

"I have about 600 hours of flight time," said Walker, a Selma, Ala., native.

Boothe, a Stockton, Ala., native, said it had been a few months since his last flight, but felt like it didn't take long to feel comfortable with the controls, adding the Raven was a very effective tool to counter indirect fire and deter enemy activity during his most recent combat tour.

The participants agreed piloting the UAS was not only important for the accomplishment of the mission, but was also enjoyable.

"Flying it with full control is a lot of fun," said Herold.

Boothe said, "Everybody wants to be the pilot all the time."
Though the training can be fun, Pesicka, a Sacramento, Ca., native, said the recertification served as an important reminder to ensure the operators are able to offer commanders a quick solution to ground surveillance in theatre or in a training area.

Pesicka added the soldiers were proficient and ready to work.
"Now that it's fresh in my mind, I won't forget it," Herold added.

Page last updated Tue March 25th, 2014 at 15:32