A new play tells the story of a drone pilot living in Las Vegas, Nevada. Alicia Powell reports.
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"Grounded", a play which ponders life as a drone pilot, makes its way to a Washington stage.
It's the story of an F-16 fighter pilot who gets reassigned to the "Chair Force" -- as she dismissively refers to it -- and how she adapts to the new work-life balance.
Now, instead of feeling like a hotshot pilot in Iraq, she's confined to a windowless room.
And, instead of decompressing with her comrades in the combat zone, she drives home to family.
Actress Lucy Ellinson, who interviewed several drone pilots in preparation for the role, learned pilots often follow a target for weeks on end, witnessing the intimate details of their lives before seeing them be killed.
SOUNDBITE: Lucy Ellinson, actress, saying (English):
"The post-traumatic stress disorder level amongst drone pilots is as high, if not higher, according to various different evidence, as fighter pilots themselves. And that's because they have this strong relationship, and they also have to watch the aftermath. A fighter pilot will be miles away by the time their ordinance is dropped. A drone pilot must linger."
Several audience members in Washington said the performance made them think about the lives of drone pilots differently -- or for the first time at all.
SOUNDBITE: Burma Bochner, audience member, saying (English):
"I'm anti-war like many. I like the idea of our people not being killed and not being in danger. But, on the other hand, I've never thought of it from the point of view of how they feel being in the desert in Las Vegas, and being far away, and suddenly realizing these are people with families and children."
SOUNDBITE: Ariana Marlett., audience member, saying (English):
"It really shows what they go through everyday."
"Grounded" is now slated for productions in several states as well as in other countries, including Australia and Sweden.
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