NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE — An Air Force drone pilot accidentally ejected from his Nevada office while flying an MQ-9 Reaper over southwestern Yemen, sources confirmed today.
"This morning, at 0900 hours, we lost 1st. Lt. Denton Link," said Capt. Maria Lopez, an Air Force spokeswoman. "After he ejected through the ceiling of the Ground Control Station during an operation supporting the Global War on Terror. An investigation is underway to determine the cause of this terrible accident."
With the call-sign "La-Z-Boy," Link was well-liked in the Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) community, and his death has set the elite group of aviators on edge.
"Well, people kept saying this might happen after we started installing those ejection seats around the office," said squadron commander Col. Mike Lee. "Drone pilots don’t really need them, but it was the end of the fiscal year and the Air Force had a surplus."
"We probably made a mistake there," he added.
Numerous bystanders witnessed the incident, with the aftermath drawing crowds of onlookers from across the base.
"We're just sitting in the truck in front of that building when all of the sudden we hear this loud-ass noise and see this scrawny, pasty looking kid flying through the air," Mike Hatfield, of facility maintenance, told reporters. "Ceiling tiles and debris were trailing behind him. The dude made it all the way to the base swimming pool. It’s a real tragedy.”
Following this accident, the Air Force has prohibited ejecting indoors until its investigation is complete.