With the talk of drones invading our skies hitting a fever pitch recently, one would assume that demand to fly the devices are hitting record levels. Turns out, it’s not! The U.S. Air Force is reportedly struggling to recruit volunteers who are interested in operating the flying robots since the prospect of sitting in a dark, cramped room for long periods of time doesn’t sound that fun.
In 2012, the Air Force hoped to train 150 pilots for its fleet of 300 unmanned aerial vehicles, but Defense News discovers it fell short of its goal. The problem is two fold: First, the Air Force is expanding its drone squadron too quickly making it difficult to properly train operators. The devices make up eight percent of its fleet — up five percent since 2008.
Second, the job is often described as “dirty, dangerous or dull.” That leads to a quicker burn out rate (it’s three times higher than that of a traditional pilot) with little room for promotions. Not to mention the scary cases of PTSD associated with it, too. There’s also a lack of recognition from peers is leading prospective volunteers to shy away from the job.
“One of the controversies surrounding their historical lack of high level recognition is the viewpoint that [remotely piloted aircraft] pilots were not risking their lives while operating their aircraft 7,000 miles away in Nevada,” he wrote.
Not to mention it’s just not as fun to control a drone when your friends are piloting fighter jets.