Claude Walker | Bicentennial-By-Buttons

“Ladies and Gents! Welcome to the Grand Finale of American Drone-O-LimpX 2017! Live! From the Elgin Drone Base in wild Wyoming! This is it! The Final Four! The best drone-jocks in America, vying for the $250,000 jackpot! Oh! And bragging rights!” the announcer exclaimed!

The global audience had grown to millions - a TV and social media juggernaut - as hundreds of entrants were eliminated in the fiery “Drone Obstacle Motocross”, neck-bending “Drone Drag Race” or “Drone Laser Biathlon”, which combined speed, navigation and lasers.

The Finalists each had their following among loyal American Drone-O-LimpX viewers. “Val the Valedictorian” was a role model for teen girls and object of lust to teen boys worldwide. “Zipline Park”, a 40-ish Korean-American inventor was cheered on by technocrats and engineers everywhere. A favorite of veterans, “Sergeant Rockwell” honed his skills by taking out terrorists in the Mideast from his desk in the Midwest. “Jojo Dubbs” was the Nerd Hero, who learned drone-flying by playing video games in his mom’s basement…at age 34.

Each Finalist had won one of the earlier competitions. Zipline’s sleek entry in the Zero-to-Six Drone Drag Race blew away the competition (216 mph). Val’s valor and nimble touch earned her Obstacle Motocross gold. Jojo - who invented the nifty little Sparrow Drone - won the Drone Lacrosse crown in a rout. And Sarge ruled Biathlon, with his quick, merciless trigger-finger.

“It began with 800! Now it is four! Meet your American Drone-O-LimpX Finalists!

“From Yazoo City, Mississippi! A modern-day Space Ace with countless kills from Afghanistan to Yemen! The Sarge! We salute your service! Sergeant Jerome Rockwell!

“The pride of MIT and of his loving mom back in Toledo, Ohio! Pioneer of multi-drone attacks! Inventor of the spectacular Sparrow Drone! Jojo Dubbs!

“She’s posted more ‘dronies’ than anyone on Earth! From Chicago, Illinois! The Grande Dame of Drone Motocross! Val the Valedictorian!

“The fastest drone-jockey…ever! An engineer whose engines blow us away! From Oakland, California! Zipline Park!”

“Contestants! You’re the best drone-jocks in America! You’ve each won $35,000 so far! You’ve earned the right to compete in this Quarter-Million Dollar Final Round, the Drone Death Duel! Killer-Take-All! Hunter-killers! Are you ready?!”

The four finalists sat in plush “cockpit” chairs equipped with computer gear, a topographical map of the sprawling base and energy drinks. Their hunter-killer drones sat on astroturf mats in front of them at the old airport hanger’s gaping doorway.

They each stared out to the vast expanse Drone Base, a rugged terrain of woods, cliffs, caves, valleys, creeks, boulders and an artificial town. Is it best to take cover first or seek high ground - very high ground - and try to maintain visual contact with the other three? Maybe three hours of daylight.

Two finalists would be flying their own designed drones: Jojo had his tiny “killer-sparrow” (which Mrs. Dubbs playfully covered with feathers) while Zipline had his speedy red “Laser Blazer”. Sarge and Val would pilot souped-up store models. Each drone was armed with a laser, camera and red light, but no tracking devices. You killed by scoring a direct laser hit on a tiny, quarter-sized sensor on each drone which disabled it, sending it crashing to earth. At the starting buzzer, they would have two minutes to fly beyond the DMZ and into the dense forest to hide, then hunt, then kill.


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