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491st ATKS instructor pilot maintains mission priority

  • Published
  • By By Airman 1st Class Isaiah Pedrazzini
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
The Airmen of the 491st Attack Squadron play a pivotal role in keeping Holloman’s mission going and for two and a half years, U.S. Air Force Capt. Christopher Carter, 491st ATKS MQ-9 instructor pilot, has dedicated his time to training both active duty and Air National Guard student pilots to properly operate and maneuver MQ-9 Reapers.

Carter has spent his entire 18 years in the service as active duty, but has discovered an immense appreciation for the work that Air National Guard Airmen are capable of during his time at Hancock ARB.

“Coming here and being a geographically separated unit out of Holloman, it's honestly been beyond eye-opening to see the massive experience that guardsmen have,” said Carter. “From an active-duty perspective, they tend to provide an outside perspective that gives new insights into how we can conduct our job in a capable manner.”

The 491st ATKS arrived at Hancock in the Autumn of 2018 and Airmen assigned to the unit have maintained a beneficial relationship with Air National Guard Airmen from the 174th Attack Wing.

“The nice thing about being here with the Air National Guard is that there is no difference as far as the mission goes,” said Carter. “As we continue to work with the guardsmen, we share perspectives on what helps them integrate with the Air Force's overall mission. Our time together with the 174th Attack Wing has made us almost fully integrated together and allowed us to cooperate as a team.”

Carter’s time at Hancock has also presented him with unique opportunities that have broadened his leadership capabilities.

“The 491st ATKS has maintenance personnel that work alongside the guard which allows me to serve as a maintenance flight commander, giving me a new understanding of what the Airmen do day-to-day,” said Carter. “Additionally, it's given me a perspective on how the process works to develop, test, integrate, and ultimately release new technology from the MQ-9 that may reach the big Air Force.”

Carter has also appreciated the massive support that he has received from both his squadron and the Air National Guard Airmen, which has helped continue his passion for teaching MQ-9 student pilots to become multi-capable Airmen and further the mission.

“Even though we’re located in New York, we are still pushing Holloman’s mission by instructing our students and ensuring that every pilot and sensor operator receives the highest quality training,” said Carter. “This is just one stage in our students' development that helps them do bigger and better things with the Air Force.”