Seeing an F-16 taking off without a pilot in the cockpit might be a little disconcerting, but U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Inman called it "a great flight all the way around," according to Boeing, which conducted its first unmanned flight of the fighter jet last week.
A pilot sat in the cockpit to perform some final checks, but with the engines ready to go, he stepped out. Off the F-16 went without a human inside.
The restored F-16 ready for take off without a pilot. (Image via Boeing video)
Two pilots were on the ground at a control station conducting Boeing's QF-16 Full Scale Aerial Target flight at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida. This first ever pilotless flight for the jet included various maneuvers at 40,000 feet and reached supersonic speeds.
This was the first ever pilotless flight of an F-16. (Image via Boeing video)
“It’s a replication of current, real world situations and aircraft platforms they can shoot as a target. Now we have a 9G capable, highly sustainable aerial target," Inman, Commander, 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron, said in a statement.
The QF-16 used in the flight was restored after not being used for more than a decade. (Image via Boeing video)
Boeing explained that the QF-16 used in the test was a retired aircraft restored for flight. The next test will include live fire testing moves.
Watch the momentous unmanned flight: