Flying unmanned aerial military vehicles is supposed to be easy. Like, playing an Xbox video game easy.
The reality is somewhat different. Not only are the controls a tiny bit more complicated than in Battlefield 4, you're also being shot at by people on the ground, dealing with weather and other unexpected environmental problems. Oh, and sometimes the drones just crash, for no reason.
Now the Washington Post has provided a unique and fascinating look at what happens when a drone goes wrong and spirals towards the ground, by printing dialogue straight from US Air Force accident reports.
The picture they paint is somewhat more chaotic and slapstic than the depressing, brutal reality of statistical analysis can really get across.
Here are some of the most evocative:
“We’re in the soup here. . . . Dude, uh, we’re not sure what the aircraft is doing. . . . Yeah, we crashed.”
Unidentified pilot of an Air Force Reaper as it crashed in 2012
"Stop saying ‘uh-oh’ while you’re flying. It’s never good. Like going to the dentist or a doctor. . . . ‘Oops? What the f— you mean ‘Oops?’"
Camera operator to drone pilot before take off.
"Whoa. . . . I don’t know what the hell just happened."
The pilot, moments later, once it had crashed.
"This thing’s kind of climbing like a pig. Climb, you pig. . . . Boy, this is going to be tight. . . . Okay, interesting. We are falling out of the sky.'
Predator drone pilot shortly before 2013 crash
"Holy shit! We got hit by a UAV! Hit by a UAV!"
US Air Force navigator of a C-130 Hercules transport plane after it got struck by a US Army RQ-7B Shadow drone.
"There’s a big frickin’ hole in the airplane."
Hercules pilot moments later.
"Dude, look at this camera. Seriously, I can’t do anything. There’s nothing I can do. This camera is completely f—–. Like there’s something in the air. Yeah, dude, I literally have no picture right now. This camera’s like, completely messed up"
Camera operator of Predator drone which crashed in 2011
"I couldn’t tell which way it was turning, or if it was straight, if it was upside down, or if it was right-side up. . . . I couldn’t grasp what was happening with the aircraft. And he said he thought it was upside down."
Predator pilot after a crash in 2010
"As the plane was going down, all I saw were tents and I was afraid that I had killed someone. I felt numb and I am certain that a few cuss words came out of my mouth.”
Predator drone pilot after crash in 2008