The man (not) in the cockpit

As told to Elizabeth Dwoskin

PHOTOGRAPH Bryan Sheffield for Bloomberg Businessweek

USAF Captain Craig (the Air Force doesn’t disclose last names of active pilots), 31, trains drone pilots and operators at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. The USAF conducts military strikes in Afghanistan. The CIA oversees intelligence strikes in Pakistan and Yemen.

“I still feel like a pilot. The aerodynamics and the physics are the same. But you have to have an additional situational awareness. I’m now flying in two dimensions instead of three.”

“It’s not the same rush as being in an actual cockpit. But it’s a feeling that I’m making an immediate impact on the war by giving instantaneous and constant surveillance, reconnaissance, and intelligence.”

“I was flying in a mission — I won’t say where — but we were following a man for about five hours. ... We came to the conclusion that he was building an IED in the ground. We knew ... that intersection where he was digging was potentially used by our ground troops. We were able to stop him.”

SOURCE U.S. Air Force

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