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Hancock Field prepares for MQ-9 Taxiing in the future

New York Air National Guard Col. Greg Semmel, commander of the 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) speaks to the media at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse NY on 19 August 2014.  Semmel was speaking about the future of MQ-9 operations at Hancock Field.  During the event the media was able to witness the first Taxi of an MQ-9 at Hancock Field.  (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call)

New York Air National Guard Col. Greg Semmel, commander of the 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) speaks to the media at Hancock Field Air National Guard Base in Syracuse NY on 19 August 2014. Semmel was speaking about the future of MQ-9 operations at Hancock Field. During the event the media was able to witness the first Taxi of an MQ-9 at Hancock Field. (New York Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Jeremy M. Call)

HANCOCK FIELD AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, Syracuse, N.Y. -- Members of the 174th Attack Wing (ATKW) and members of the media watched as one of Hancock Field's MQ-9s taxied around the upper ramp for the first time.

"In my mind it's a milestone the 174th has reached with the new mission and getting the aircraft back here in Syracuse and taking off from Hancock Field," said Russell Youngs, Command Chief Master Sgt. of the 174th Attack Wing. "I know operations and maintenance are putting a lot of effort into ensuring that it's going to be a very safe operation. This is just one more first for this wing and it's really a success story just having it out there on the taxiway."

Many of the 174th ATKW members enjoyed seeing the aircraft out on the taxiway.

"It's outstanding to see that we're taking steps to move forward," said Col. John Balbierer, Vice Commander of the 174th Attack Wing. "It felt good seeing the aircraft out there moving around."

Hancock Field is hoping to have the MQ-9s flying to and from the base in the near future.

"We're hoping that we do it sooner than later. We already support formal flying training from Wheeler-Sack Army airfield, so all of our sensor operators and pilots are coming through the pipeline and being trained," Said Youngs. "The Majority of the aircraft are launched from Ft. Drum and turned over to our students here in Syracuse."

Youngs would like for people to know just how valuable the aircraft is to the 174th Mission.

"Once enough people realize how safe the aircraft is and see how much effort is put into getting one into the air and the professionalism behind it, I think our elected officials in the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Will eventually realize this needs to happen," said Youngs. "Things like how aircraft helped the wildfires in California. It's just a matter of time before people realize how important that aircraft could be in saving lives. It doesn't always have to be in a negative sense, but there's so much that can happen in a positive manner. Hurricane relief a few years ago, it would've been nice to have one overhead to get some real-time video feed. When you think of the 274th Air Support Operation Squadron working in Oswego with the Coast Guard maybe saving somebody's life thats sailboat has capsized or personal watercraft has sank and may need some help. So there are a couple good success stories there. I think once we start flying here people realize the importance of the MQ-9."