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Unmanned Aerial President Crashes on Korean Peninsula
March 8, 2041

WASHINGTON DC--Citing what Northrop Grumman engineers have identified as a flaw in specially designed navigation software, spokespeople for the Presidential Cabinet confirmed late Wednesday that the 53rd President of the United States, the first entirely autonomous, mechanical, airborne leader in the western world, has crashed and is likely unrecoverable. "This is a black day for America," noted a solemn administration spokeswoman. "But it may also be a day of great courage. The American people took a great leap forward when they elected [the President]; may we not now retreat from that great vision."

The President, widely known by his Northrop development codename "Skipper," was reportedly surveilling the former Korean De-Militarized Zone when a software flaw led him to "invert" positioning data he received from a network of satellites and ground-based antennae. "Though specific details of the mishap are certainly classified, we can say that a sudden, systematic mis-transformation of positioning data lead the President to believe that up was down and down was up," explains an unidentified Northrop engineer. "He lost compass and got locked into a fatal feedback flightpath. The closer he got to the ground, the higher he tried to fly, bringing him closer to the ground until he crashed at an apparently high velocity."

A controversial figure since his election last year, President Skipper gained the confidence of the American people after taking quick, decisive action against a rogue satellite many feared equipped with legacy nuclear weapons. "Nothing beats a President capable of extra-atmospheric sorties with his own air-to-air missiles," boasts Admiral Wayne Nubbs, head of the U.S. Joint Chiefs. "He's got high-powered lasers mounted right on his head. No traditional leader can compete with that."

Though popular for his daring, low-orbit exploits and courageous penetration of foreign, hostile airspace, the President faced mounting pressure at home to reign in military spending and address perennial domestic problems. "Skipper faced some understandable skepticism when it came to military spending," opines Katherine Zahone, Executive Director of the non-partisan BudgetScope. "Though he was elected by the American people, he was built by major military contractors. That was a real political liability, no question about it."

Scheduled to be sworn in over the weekend, the Vice President, codenamed "Little Boy," though little-used over the past year, is reportedly prepared to assume official Presidential duties. "It's true he hasn't seen much action," noted a Northrop engineer during a January New York Times interview. "To be frank, we've basically been using him to make toast and heat up coffee. But he's got every capability that the Skipper's got. With 45 minutes' notice we can scramble the Cabinet and he can be airborne with the latest intelligence and a full payload."

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