The newest addition to the unmanned aircraft systems program at Kansas State University Salina is former U.S. Air Force Col. Kurt Carraway, who will serve as the flight operations manager. Carraway was in the Air Force for 25 years, with much of that time including a focus on UAS.
“K-State Salina is very fortunate to attract someone with Kurt’s background and we are looking forward to having his experience help shape our program,” said Kurt Barnhart, associate dean of research and engagement and executive director of the Applied Aviation Research Center.
Carraway was first introduced to unmanned systems when his initial position with the Air Force was becoming obsolete. He was a navigator for a military aerial refueling plane, but aircraft modernization upgrades like GPS eliminated the need for a human to ensure a plane’s positional awareness. With his FAA commercial instrument ratings, Carraway transitioned into an unmanned aircraft pilot.
At Beale Air Force Base in Marysville, California, Carraway worked exclusively with the Global Hawk, an unmanned vehicle, as a pilot and instructor, and was named the director of operations for the formal training unit. This opportunity allowed Carraway to establish standard operating procedures and compose tech manuals for the military’s use of UAS, which, at that time, were still in an infancy phase. He was then selected to serve for two years as commander of the only operational Global Hawk squadron.
“Since I began working with unmanned aircraft systems, I’ve been fascinated by their capabilities, specifically for commercial use,” said Carraway. “K-State Salina has made itself a nucleus for UAS with its valuable relationships with the FAA and industry research partners, and I know this is the place where I can have the most influence.”
Once Carraway begins his position in November, he will assist in setting policies and procedures for unmanned flight operations with an eye toward future integration. He also will initiate and collaborate on new research projects, serve as a mentor to current and prospective students, and represent K-State Salina at local, regional and national events, with an overall focus of growing and maturing the UAS program.
A native of St. Louis, Missouri, Carraway has been enamored by aviation since he was very young. After receiving a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering at Missouri University of Science and Technology in Rolla, he entered the Air Force. During his service, Carraway also completed a Master of Science in systems engineering at the Air Force Institute of Technology on the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio, and a Master of Arts in management from Webster University in St. Louis, Missouri.
For the last four and a half years, Carraway has been stationed at Camp Smith in Oahu, Hawaii, where he served first as joint operations director and then division chief of current operations, both for the U.S. Pacific Command.
Carraway says this is first time in a quarter of a century that he and his family can choose where they want to live.
“Salina is not only centrally located in the state and near my family in Missouri, but it just feels like the right community for my wife, Pam, and me to continue raising our children,” Carraway said.
Story by Julee Cobb / KSU Salina