Pilotless aircraft?

January 5, 2010

Pakistan government under pressure after deadly attack

gbu pilotless 240Washington, frustrated by what it says are inadequate efforts to wipe out the militants, has stepped up pilotless U.S. drone aircraft attacks on militants in Pakistan.

Please run a correction on the lede in your ‘drone attack; story that ran worldwide Jan.1, 2010. The word “pilotless” is totally inaccurate, as each drone is remotely operated by a fully trained and commissioned pilot who is sitting at the controls the entire time the plane is flying. Pilotless is inaccurate. Even the word drone implies that the plane flies itself, which it does not.

Please run a correction and also instruct your writers and editors on the correct terminology. There are two pilots involved in each flight – the take-off and landing pilot, who is in the war zone as the take-offs and landings have to be done by line of sight. Once the plane is up, a pilot stationed in the U.S. takes over the flight and operates the plane remotely. It is never flying ‘pilotless,’ but always has a remote operator.

My son is a Predator pilot, is very much a live, decision-making human being who is in constant communication with the Marines and Army and other ground troops and the decision to fire is always a team effort. He does not take it lightly and has the full visual picture of any target prior to firing. He does not fire unless given the confirmation by ground troops in the war zone that the target is valid.

You have done a disservice to the U.S. and to the Predator or any other remote program by calling the planes pilotless.


Sorry, but I don’t have a problem with the word “pilotless.” I think most readers understand the word simply means there is no human pilot aboard the craft. Indeed, if you check dictionary.com, you’ll see “pilotless aircraft” is the example given following the definition of the word: GBU Editor

A paramilitary soldier and villagers carry the body of a blast victim through the site of the suicide bomb attack, in the town of Lakki Marwat January 2, 2010. REUTERS/Mustansar Baloch

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