back to article US pilots will go to VR drone ops straight from training

The new head of the US Air Force, General Norton "Norty"* Schwartz, has said that in future some rookie pilots will go straight from training school to remotely flying robot planes. Flight International, reporting on a speech made by the general at a recent convention, said that the move to send pilots straight from training …


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  1. Dave Gomm

    why not just drop the medical restrictions

    there will be a lot of people out there with the capability to do this but who would not have passed the USAF entry medical, why not reset the medical bar to remove the bits that are now irrelevant and allow them to train as drone pilots ?

    Surely that is better than trying to get the gung-ho athletic types to spend their lives behind a VDU ?

  2. Ken Hagan Gold badge

    What did they expect?

    You advertise for a high-adrenalin job, you get that sort of candidate. Flying these drones sounds more like a desk job, or machine-operator type of post. Start advertising it as such and you might get recruits who are willing to do the job once they've completed their training. (They probably won't be able to fly *real* aircraft, but that doesn't, or at least shouldn't, matter.)

  3. Anonymous Coward


    I'm sure that not only are the military pilots reluctant to go straight from flight training to a computer playing FSX with a real thing outside, but any pilot would be. The only problem is if we send the barely-made it types to UAV school and the "he didn't have to study" pilots to fly real planes, maybe the rate of crashed UAVs will go up? Maybe not, but ask any real piot - the simulator (or computer) is a hell of a lot harder than flying the real thing.

  4. Anonymous Coward


    Planes are to be "piloted during missions from control stations in America." That seems a tad far-fetched (or at least sub-optimal) given the inevitable latency issues involved. Mustapha helluva network.

  5. Anonymous Coward

    It's a dull job

    Not necessarily just because it's a drone, but because of the communication latency, the drone is flying itself. All the pilot is doing is issuing it a few instructions. It is much more similar to programming an auto-pilot than actual piloting. The problem is (and this is me talking as an ex-RAF type), the flyboy side of the military is run by pilots. Anything that dilutes their necessity is seen as a big threat - hence why many air force bosses drag their feet over UAVs despite them being the future of the air force in many ways. it's also why they are keepings pilots flying them. Unfortunately, pilots join the air force to fly. When they don't fly they just leave. Often when they don't fly at the sharp end they leave as well. You can get great money as an airline pilot.

  6. Jesse

    RE: why not just drop the medical restrictions

    It is not so simple..

    If you sign up with a medical condition or are more likely to get one while active duty, the Veterans Administration will eventually be footing the bill.

    In essence the medical screen is a lot of things including a test to see how much of a return (or loss) on investment one would be.

    And then of course there is a lot of entrenched tradition.

  7. Anonymous Coward


    Why don't these flyboy's just start getting smaller? Two birds, one stone, job done.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Those magnificent men in their

    flying machines - they go up diddly dum dum they go down diddly dum dum.

    The military is about military advantage, it is not about oohhh let me fly my plane, no it is about having the most effective kill or submission ratio.

    Robotics is the way of the future without a shadow of a doubt, it is far more effective.

    The way of the cockpit pilot is dead. And don't worry it will be done to cars soon as well, probably as a pre cursor.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re. latency

    "Planes are to be "piloted during missions from control stations in America." That seems a tad far-fetched (or at least sub-optimal) given the inevitable latency issues involved. Mustapha helluva network."

    They are already doing this, and have been for years. Even RAF remote drone operators are based in the USA.

  10. Alan White

    Forever peace?

    So it's first flyboys, next soldierboys?

  11. Anonymous Coward


    "Our crews rely on us to provide them an environment that may not be totally safe".

    It would seem that at least some of them, destined to go to the ground control centres in America straight from training, are out of luck on that one.

    Unless there is something we dont know about the ground control centres....

  12. Pascal Monett Silver badge

    Just a minute there

    Given my hours of flight experience (fighter and helicopter) on BF2, I'm sure that I could hold a Predator flying level over an 8-hour shift.

    I'd take the job, no problem ! I'll even stay in a nondescript, blue-coverall outfit - no need for shiny wings that I do not merit anyway.

  13. CeeOfGee

    Sims versus the real thing

    "...Maybe not, but ask any real piot - the simulator (or computer) is a hell of a lot harder than flying the real thing."

    I'm a pilot..and I fly the real things, not simulators (although I do use simulators for training) and I can tell you that flying the real thing is harder than the sim....especially when doing an approach to land in crappy weather and with turbulence !

  14. n


    remote killing is easier:

    RV1: "I just pwned 'bout 60 civilians dude!...must have been another "computer error" hehe! "

    RV2: "haha.."computer error"....what a noob! me light up this fuel depot next to the school.....its called "collateral damage in the heat of battle" hehe"

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