An MQ-9 Reaper lifted off on the first sortie launched from Hancock Field ANGB, N.Y., on Wednesday, the New York Air National Guard's 174th Attack Wing announced. The unit's MQ-9s, though operated by crews at Hancock, have physically been based at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield near Watertown since 2011, pending Federal Aviation Administration clearance to fly from home station. Hancock, located at Syracuse International Airport, began MQ-9 taxi-trials to develop procedures for operating alongside civil air traffic last summer. Aircrews at Syracuse began flying MQ-9s over Afghanistan in 2009, and the unit also hosts local flight operations, training RPA pilots and sensor operators. After several months’ delay, the 174th ATKW finally received FAA approval, launching and recovering the first Reaper from Hancock on Dec. 16.
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