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Along the lines of this question Looking for the title/ author of a short story about AI pilots

The story was in one of the There Will Be War anthologies (much like “Wings out of Shadow”). The plot follows a Navy pilot who launches from his carrier, engages the enemy, and nurses his crippled plane back to the carrier. His plane crash-lands on the ship. After the firefighters put out the fire, the pilot gets out of his virtual cockpit to go up to the flight deck to examine the wreckage of his real plane.

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  • Yes. The story made it seem like the pilot was in the plane,yet it was a drone. The pilot was pretty much integrated, but the plot twist put him safely on the carrier in the end.
    – Jimbot
    Nov 1, 2017 at 2:25
  • Surely if you know where it was written then it shouldn't be too difficult to find?
    – Möoz
    Nov 1, 2017 at 2:32
  • There were over 8 “There will be war” books in the series, each with over 10 stories. Amazon doesn’t list the titles of all the stories in the books, and multiple searches were fruitless. I’d rather not purchase each and every book to find a title.
    – Jimbot
    Nov 1, 2017 at 2:55
  • Who cares about Amazon? ISFDB does list titles of all the stories: series titles (10 vols), contents of Vol. 1, Vol. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,
    – user14111
    Nov 1, 2017 at 3:52
  • . . . and Volume 10.
    – user14111
    Nov 1, 2017 at 3:54

2 Answers 2

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I have six out of the ten volumes of the series (1, 2, 3, 4, 7 and 10), and while I can't find a story that matches your description in any of the six volumes I have there is one that has some similarities. I'll describe it in case you've misremembered the details or maybe mixed up two different stories.

The story is The Man in the Gray Weapons Suit by Paul J. Nahin. It describes a navy pilot taking off from the carrier in his plane Red Striker Five, engaging the enemy then crash landing on the deck, just as you mention in your question. However this is not a drone and the pilot really is flying and indeed is seriously injured. The twist is that the pilot is so emotionally connected to his plane that he has come to love it as if it were another human.

The story ends:

The warrior smiled weakly through a pale white face lined with pain and shock. He looked up at Red Striker Five and saw not a technological marvel of electronics, armament, metallurgy, and computer programs. He saw both a warm and loving creature, and a being that had killed to save him. Killed with savagery and intelligence. His body filled with emotion, a feeling of passion that only later he would just barely begin to understand.

He looked at the battle-ravaged Red Striker Five, and just before he slipped into darkness again, he knew. He knew she’d be there when he came back. She’d wait for him, and he loved her.

And he knew she loved him too

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  • Note that this answer was accepted by Jimbot in a comment on the other answer.
    – DavidW
    Nov 2, 2021 at 17:37
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This is likely "What Price Humanity?" by David VanDyke as per this review:

And here we are at the third story from There Will Be War, “What Price Humanity?” by David VanDyke. It’s the best of the three, though unfortunately that’s pretty faint praise. An infodump at the beginning tells us that aliens called Meme (Meme? Really?) are attacking from the outer Solar System, and that when the Meme’s reinforcements come, every decade or so, EarthFleet suffers catastrophic losses. Captain Vango Markis wakes up in Virtual Reality, having suffered what he thinks is a bad hit, and meets other officers he’s served with, some of whom he remembers as having died. They find flight simulators, and go on practice runs.

Found by searching for tor "there will be war" virtual crash

There's a Google Books copy available here which seems to match up, at least against the review details. There's a slightly longer one here. Caveat, it's stated that the TWBW X version is a shorter version, which means that these excerpts might not be accurate to the one in the anthology.

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  • I have TWBW X (along with five other volumes out of the ten) and "What Price Humanity" doesn't match the description in the question. Nov 1, 2017 at 11:36
  • @JohnRennie: I've found a Google books link. I'll post it.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:48
  • What Price Humanity ends with the destruction of the Earth not a crash landing on a carrier :-) I wonder if there's a way to get a copy to you ... Nov 1, 2017 at 11:50
  • @JohnRennie: Ah. The confusion might be because it looks like the crash is just the first part of the actual book.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Nov 1, 2017 at 11:51
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    I may have combined the stories in my mind. It was over 30 years ago that I read them. “The man in the grey weapons suit” matches what I remembered, but I was sure that the pilot wasn’t in the plane. Thank for your help.
    – Jimbot
    Nov 1, 2017 at 18:17

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