In the short time since he arrived at Creech, Brockshus, now 30, has become one of the Air Force's more experienced pilots of one of its most unexpectedly valuable weapons, the MQ-1 Predator. Along with its bigger and deadlier brother, the MQ-9 Reaper, these armed and remotely controlled spy planes have generated what Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz calls an "insatiable" demand among ground commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan, not to mention special operations in Pakistan. It's easy to see why. At this moment, dozens of armed drones circle miles above insurgents, watching everything in real time, with a resolution sharp enough to read a license plate. Every month they stream 18,000 hours of live video to commanders, intelligence officers and ground troops; they track vehicles, scan convoy routes for explosives, and fire missiles. Unlike the F-16, a Predator can remain above a target for 24 hours, while pilots like Brockshus spell each other in shifts, perhaps watching the sun rise over Afghanistan on their video monitors before driving home in the dark. "They give you a capability that you never had," says retired Air Force Colonel Tom Ehrhard, a leading UAV expert. "And when you couple it with a lethal system, guess what? It's magic."