Author Archives: Katherine Chandler

About Katherine Chandler

is assistant professor at the School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, and teaches in the culture and politics program. Her book manuscript, Drone Flight and Failure, traces the prehistory of drone aircraft from 1936 to 1991 to critically examine how the system links and disjoins what is human, machine, and enemy. She received her doctorate from the rhetoric department at the University of California, Berkeley, in 2014 with a designated emphasis in new media and completed art-research residencies at the Banff Centre and Provisions Library in 2012 and 2013.

A Bee with an Electronic Brain: Drone Flights in Cold War America

In 1953, a press release by Ryan Aeronautical promoted a previously classified drone with a headline touting the pilotless plane as a “bee with an electronic brain.” Known as the Firebee, the unmanned, jet-powered aircraft trained anti-aircraft gunners in all branches of the U.S. military. Today drones continue to serve as practice targets, even though lethal models deployed by the military dominate the popular imaginary. In the Cold War, however, the bee-like drones generated relatively little public interest; compared with other aerospace developments of the period, Continue reading → Continue reading →