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Reaping

‘We need to test harder whether we can take a young 18- or 19-year-old out of their PlayStation bedroom, and put them into a Reaper cabin and say: “Right, you have never flown an aircraft before. That does not matter, you can operate this.”’ Air Marshal Greg Bagwell

18 or 19 – what was I doing then? Well, one day, I biked here to RAF Waddington’s ‘viewing point’, from where I saw no action – called by the urgent Tornados which had skimmed our village shocking pliant heads at intervals of my childhood, and must have come from somewhere. Runway approach lights have switched on and point skywards at nothing coming in. A pigeon. A slip of moon. A screech owl would be too apposite. But I saw one once a mile from here, on Bloxholm Lane. It stalled a moment, then beat on past the hedges tall as houses, living its purpose suddenly beyond range.

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