These things drop like flies. Especially in training.
There’s a hill right off the approach end of runway 08/26 called “Five Spot Hill”. There are five caves at the top that look like the five spots on a dice, hence the name. This MQ-1 smacked right into it while trying to land.
Nothing like crashing the Wing Commander’s jet and reducing the national inventory by 50%. In 2007, Creech AFB got their first MQ-9. Shortly thereafter they got another one. One night I was listening to the Tower and wished I could’ve recorded the following. The intrepid drone pilot was practicing touch and goes.
MQ-9: “Request go around. Reaper 01”
TOWER: “Negative Reaper One”
TOWER: “Negative go around Reaper One. You have impacted the ground.”
MQ-9: “I have???”
The pilot had slammed the drone down so hard that it left a trail of parts down the runway. By the time he asked for the go around he didn’t have enough airplane to do it.
The next day you could see Reaper One smeared into the dirt right where Taxiway Bravo crossing 08/26. I watched the fiasco as everyone in a blue suit came out to lend their opinion on how to recover the aircraft.
They spent the morning positioning a crane and a flatbed. I was sitting with my boss and told him, “They better get that on the flatbed by noon or they’re in trouble.” He asked why. “Because that’s when the noon time winds kick up”.
Low a behold, they got it off the ground around 12:30. That’s when its wing caught the winds and it started to “fly”. MQ-9 bouncing around. Crane bouncing around. People fleeing in all directions.
Crane driver puts the aircraft back down.
They came back the next morning with a better plan and eventually got it on the flatbed and hauled the trash away.
Flying a drone is tricky. With all the data displayed you can be easily tasked saturated and over look some thing basic. Like turning off the engine. This happened to a MQ-01 in the pattern at Creech. Rather than turning the engine back on, the pilot attempted a dead stick landing. Aside from landing short, he did a real good job. The drone was on the ground, on its wheels and rolling through the desert.
Until it rolled into a culvert. Came out of the culvert and smeared itself across taxiway CHARLIE. Whoops.
THEY ALSO GET SHOT DOWN