We may be nearing the death of the real pilot

Published: Wednesday, October 3, 2012 at 03:51 PM.

The Obama administration has ramped up use of drones, or as once handsome, tanned, swaggering fighter pilots who have metastasized into bespectacled, pasty-skinned, stoop-shouldered video game players prefer to call them, "remotely piloted vehicles."

The pilots dragged kicking and screaming off to operating these RPVs vice flying real airplanes prefer the term RPV so as to self-delusionally not divorce themselves completely from the manly realm of the wild blue yonder.

The administration likes RPVs because killing people with armed RPVs is cleaner, easier, less risky and politically more acceptable than allowing pilots in actual aircraft to do the job.

It may be acceptable politically, but it’s unacceptable for most pilots. For these RPV operators, the needle on their cockpit’s "testosterone gauge" barely registers off zero.

More recently, in typical government mumbo jumbo fashion — the same mumbo jumbo that replaces the word poverty with "social exclusion" and where a bicycle might be called an "OD green, aluminum framed, self-propelled, bipedal, multi-wheeled, transportation device" — the perfectly acceptable term RPV has since been replaced with the new term, "unmanned aerial system" or UAS.

The pilots the Air Force has been trying to entice to leave behind the manly thrill of flying real airplanes to operating geeky UAS craft from air-conditioned easy chairs don’t like the term UAS any more than they liked the term "drone." Both terms imply a pilot-less or human-out-of-the-loop weapons system (which UASs are likely in the future to become anyway as they increasingly become more computerized) that do not, generally, accurately describe today’s UAS.

To be fair, pilots are in fact, more or less (through a two dimensional TV screen) at least today in 2012, intimately engaged in UAS employment and the delivery of weapons.



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