Has the last fighter pilot been born?

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Bud Anderson ACE

Has the last fighter pilot been born?


A recent article from the TechNewsDaily reported that an F-16 squadron from the Iowa Air National Guard had given up their beautiful Vipers for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). Tragic! This squadron dates back to WWII.

I don’t know about you, but as a person who studied, nay worshipped, the tradition of the fighter pilot, I find this to trend to be truly saddening.


Is it inevitable that machines will take over all our dirty work?


As technology continues to rapidly advance it only makes sense, but I don’t have to like it.

Let’s face it, when I can go to the mall and buy a very capable quadracopter AR Drone and fly it around with my iPad, you know the military has stuff that’s at least an order of magnitude more capable. And their stuff is armed.

FrankLukeAirplane from meanhorse.com

So like early in both World Wars, our folks will have to go to other countries to compete for fighter cockpits, which isn’t likely during peacetime as a foreigner. Eventually even that will dry up.

Many pundits say that we’ll retain some manned capability, but with a sky full of drones in a war zone I’m not sure how that’ll work. Might be too risky, which is one of the reasons we are getting out of the business in the first place; that along with cost. It’s much cheaper to mass produce machines than to train and maintain meat-servos.


Look at the X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System, which is prepping for carrier based ops off the East coast, and the legions of armed drones, like the MQ-9 Reaper that are taking Viper slots; the technology is here and now.


I leave you with these words found on the World-Wide Web.

Let’s call it, The Fighter Pilot’s Eulogy

Say what you will about him: arrogant, cocky, boisterous, and a fun-loving fool to boot. He has earned his place in the sun. Across the span of 95+ years he has given his country some of its proudest moments and most cherished military traditions. But fame is short-lived and little the world remembers.


Almost forgotten are the 1400 fighter pilots who stood alone against the might of Hitler’s Germany during the dark summer of 1940 and gave, in the words of Winston Churchill, England “It’s finest hour.” Gone from the hardstands at Duxford are the 51’s with their checkerboard noses that terrorized the finest fighters the Luftwaffe had. Dimly remembered, the Fourth Fighter Group that gave Americans some of their few proud moments in the skies over Korea. How fresh in recall are the Air Commandos who valiantly struck the VC with their aging “Skyraiders” in the rain and blood soaked valley called A-Shau? And how long will be remembered the “Phantoms” and “Thuds” over “Route Pack Six” and the flack-filled skies over Hanoi?

U.S. Air Force photo

This quote sums it up for me: “Barrel Roll, Steel Tiger, Tally Ho. So here’s a “Nickel on the Grass” to you, my friend and your spirit, enthusiasm, sacrifice, and courage–but most of all, to your friendship. Yours is a dying breed and when you are gone, the world will be a lesser place!” –  by Friar Tuck

by Brent Owens

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