Airmen assigned to the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing at Creech Air Force Base, Nev., showcased an MQ-9 Reaper at the 2017 Gulf Coast Salute Open House and Air Show April 22 and 23, 2017, at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla.
A team of MQ-9 Reaper pilots, sensor operators and maintenance personnel took part in unveiling the first MQ-9 model aircraft to the public. The model provided on-lookers with a realistic visual of the Reaper up-close and proved to be essential in building community understanding of the remotely piloted aircraft mission set and its impact abroad.
The MQ-9 Reaper model enables the 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing to keep all operational aircraft in rotation while still providing a visual for the public at events like the 2017 GCS Open House and Air Show.
“Airshows are a big deal and they attract a lot of people, so at this one, we were able to show them what the plane actually looked like and brief them on common misunderstandings about the MQ-9 and its use in daily operations,” said Senior Airman Ricardo, 432nd Aircraft Maintenance Squadron weapons load crew member.
The team of subject matter experts consisted of three aircrews and eight maintainers charged with building up the model, maintaining the display and the breakdown.
Ricardo said communication and teamwork were imperative to mission success, and the arduous process of building the model was well worth the outcome.
Ricardo recounted the visitors’ excited expressions when hearing the capabilities of the MQ-9 and that experience was the highlight of the Air Show.
“It was a good experience because we were able to see how much people were interested in what we do and what the mission consists of,” said Ricardo.
The 432nd AMXS acquired the 5,300 pound carbon-fiber model in 2013. It takes approximately eight people to assemble using a crane or overhead hoist with a weight capability to lift the display.
The MQ-9 model symbolizes the persistence and innovation of the latest in the Air Force’s arsenal and, for a weekend, members of the Tyndall community got a personal experience of the aircraft and the Airmen that make a daily impact on the battlefield.