25th ATKG pilots help students take flight

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jacob Gutierrez
  • 20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

Students from Crestwood High School and the Sumter Career and Technology Center completed a drone pilot certification program with mentorship from 25th Attack Group pilots, May 31.

Students who completed the inaugural program and successfully passed a Federal Aviation Administration exam were certified with a remote pilot certificate which allows them to fly drones up to 400 feet.

“This started out as a vision to bring cutting edge technology to the students of Crestwood High School and the Sumter Career and Technology Center,” said Lt. Col. Kaly, 25th Operational Support Squadron commander. “Each one of you in this room could have taken the easy road, but each of you believed in yourself enough to try something harder than the average path.”

The program involved a training regimen that included exercises, flight simulations and exam preparation. All of this was done with the oversight of teachers, administrators and RPA pilots from the 25th ATKG.

The 25th ATKG pilots worked in tandem with the program syllabus to develop new ways to challenge the students and introduce real world insight all while furthering a relationship between the community and the students who reside within.

“This accelerates their options in life, and broadens their perspective on what they thought was available to them,” said Capt. Mathew, 25th ATKG RPA pilot. “Many of the students have since expressed interest in exploring careers across the aeronautical spectrum.”

The students visited the 25th ATKG headquarters at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina and received the opportunity to experience the simulators there and draw connections between the classroom and the real world.

“We’re continuing to foster this relationship between us and the students with additional internship opportunities with the squadron itself,” said Mathew. “The students will have the chance to see what working professionals do and see all the different facets we have and expose them to what’s out there.”

Parallel to the inaugural drone pilot program for the students, the RPA pilots are continuing to establish their mission within the community. The 25th ATKG permanent headquarters building is currently being constructed with an anticipated completion date in summer 2024.

“Socrates said that the secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new and that is something that each of you have in common with the people of the 25th Attack Group,” said Lt. Col. Kaly.

The 25th ATKG looks to further this ongoing partnership with the schools in the Sumter community while continuing to provide critical remote piloted air capabilities in an ever-changing defense landscape.