Monday, August 17, 2009

For God's sake, General, they're just enlisted men!

Air Force to train more on drones
WASHINGTON — The Air Force will train more drone operators than fighter and bomber pilots combined for the first time this year, signaling a fundamental shift for the 61-year-old service, records and interviews with top officials show.

The Air Force will train 240 pilots to fly Predator and Reaper drones compared with 214 fighter and bomber pilots for the budget year that ends in September.

Left unsaid in the story is why, in order to pilot an armed remote-control aircraft, one must first be awarded a college degree, be commissioned an officer and gentleman, then graduate pilot training.

Whatever rationale was used to eliminate flying sergeants [1] it makes even less sense when the pilot sits in a padded chair in an air-conditioned room in Nevada, and almost every sergeant you meet has an actual college degree.

Perhaps someday we'll see the return of flying sergeants.

[1] As an excellent writer once wrote about paratroopers and static lines ...   'He can just  imagine the  staff meeting where they dreamed up the concept of the static line:"For God's sake, General, they're just enlisted men! As soon as they jump out of the airplane they'll probably start daydreaming about their girlfriends, take a few hits from their pocket flasks, catch forty winks,  and before you know it they'll all pile into the ground at a couple of hundred miles an hour!" '

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