Aug. 5, 2011

116th successfully launches 1st RQ-7 Shadow

By Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie     
116th BCT Public Affairs

ZABUL PROVINCE, Afghanistan Despite a number of setbacks and complications, members of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Tactical Unmanned Arial Systems Platoon successfully launched their first RQ-7 Shadow in Afghanistan July 25.

 

An RQ-7 Shadow comes in for landing at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Zabul province, Afghanistan, after completing its first flight in country. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie, 116th BCT Public Affairs)

Click HERE for a high res version of this photo.

One of only 11 similar units specifically requested by Gen. David Petraeus, the 116th TUAS platoon demonstrated their mission readiness with a flawless maiden voyage in theater, setting a lofty standard to maintain for the rest of their deployment.

“This is the most significant flight,” said Sgt. Thomas Winter, a Soldier from Richmond, Va., and the flight’s payload operator. “It raises everybody’s confidence in our flight operations. It’s usually the first flight that decides how the rest are going to be.”

Getting a bird in the air is no easy task even under the most ideal conditions, and Afghanistan’s moon dust combined with a constant breeze is far from ideal. To make conditions worse, the platoon’s equipment was still arriving just two days prior to the launch.

“We’re still missing mission-essential equipment but we made it work,” said Sgt. Anne Korsness, a Soldier from Virginia Beach, Va., and the TUAS platoon sergeant.

 

Members of the 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems platoon congratulate each other after a successful launch of their first Shadow in country at Forward Operating Base Lagman, Zabul province, Afghanistan. The TUAS platoon is deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Rebecca Petrie, 116th BCT Public Affairs)

Click HERE for a high res version of this photo.

Even though they inspect down to the minutiae of each aircraft prior to every flight, the platoon knows things can still go wrong. Equipment shortages, fuel issues and radio trouble created problems initially, and during their second launch of the day, the team had trouble with a malfunctioning system in the aircraft that resulted in a rough landing, but complications don’t keep them down for long.

“We just had to adapt and overcome,” said Spc. Brett Wiley, a Soldier from Dumfries, Va., and the flight’s pilot.

By capitalizing on the success of their first flight, the platoon can weather any turbulence they are sure to encounter during the course of their deployment.

“Now we know what is successful and what we need to do to make the next one more successful,” said Korsness.

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