At this point, it’s no mystery the DOD has issues recruiting and retaining personnel. On top of the 8,000+ troops that have been sent packing for refusing the clot shot, thousands more personnel have been sidelined for the same reason. Aviation has been hit exceptionally hard across all branches. There are numerous reasons for the pilot shortage in the services, with everything from the longstanding competitiveness of better pay and opportunities in the civilian sector to the same reasons which are affecting the military everywhere, but the fact remains that pilots are in high demand, and the DOD can’t keep up with that demand.
The Air Force has more pilots than any other branch, so it makes sense they’d feel the pinch more than anyone. That being the case, it might make sense to think they’d lift restrictions on unvaccinated pilots, offer more incentives for pilots to stay in, or a litany of other, productive ideas to keep flyboys (and girls) in their seats. Instead, the Air Force has a novel new idea to fly with only one pilot in the cockpit. You read that right; one pilot.
According to the article posted on McConnell Air Force Base website, “The 22nd Air Refueling Wing flew a KC-46A Pegasus without a copilot Oct. 25 to validate procedures for operating with a limited aircrew for certain potential high-end combat scenarios.”
Validating procedures for operating with a limited aircrew for certain potential high-end combat scenarios sure sounds a lot like we ran out of pilots so we’re just going to do this fly this thing without them.
I spoke to a pilot who was stationed at McConnell AFB who told me, “I was fighting this before I left McConnell. This wasn’t approved by AFMC (mainly the engineers and airworthiness authority) like it should have been. Even the Air Force Test Center wouldn’t allow them to fly it there.” The pilot continued by saying, “When I sat in the initial meeting for it my jaw hit the floor at the absurdity of it. I never thought it would come to fruition. They had a plan to assess the risk with the engineers and get a sped up airworthiness board by the end of next week but that wasn’t enough. What’s stopping other operational units from doing whatever the hell they want now? Screw safety right? There’s so much more to this it’s truly unbelievable.”
I can almost hear the collective gasps of feigned shock from you sarcastic bastards as I write this. I don’t think anyone expects the Air Force or any of its sister branches to pull their head out of their fourth point of contact at this point (airborne lingo for the legs in the audience), but this idea is exceptionally stupid; especially during a time when people’s hearts are popping from climate change and pilots are dying in the cockpit from Sudden Adult Death Syndrome (SADS). (Hey, they’re the ones who put this junk out there. I’m just saying what the scientists said, lol.)