In the past, soldiers went off to war and left their families behind. But drone pilots commute to work - and to war - each day. Vin Ray was given rare access to the only US Air Force base devoted entirely to flying drones, where he discovered the pilots' strange double life.
If you're a drone pilot, there's a strong possibility you live in Las Vegas. And your commute to work is against the traffic.
We were told to drive northwest out of the city on US Route 95. The road stretches out through the barren, inhospitable scrub of the Nevada desert.
Pay attention, we were told, because the signpost is small. In fact, it's very small. But we eventually arrived at our destination: Creech US Air Force Base, a small, flat, city in the desert. And the only air base devoted to flying drones.
Inside the base, comparisons with science fiction are hard to avoid. A drone looks like a conflation of a giant insect and a light aircraft. It's unmanned.
Standing by a runway, we watch a drone land and pass right in front of us.
The camera underneath its chin, swivels quickly sideways and looks right at us - someone, somewhere on the base, is watching us.
I'm escorted through a non-descript door in the side of what looks like a beige metal shipping container. It's cramped inside. At the far end there's a pilot seated on the left, who flies the drone and fires the missiles.
The sensor operator sits on the right - they operate the camera and fix the laser on the target for the missile to hit. They're focused on a bank of screens, switches and buttons. This is today's kind of cockpit. But it doesn't feel like a battleground. (end of excerpt)
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