I'd be fine with the Blue Angels et all if they were the only purpose for which we built those things. Fast jet planes doing tricks are cool: endless blood sacrifice to the eternally hungry shade of Curtis LeMay, not so much.
On the other hand, I prefer to be the ones not being bombed day in and day out.
Yeah dude war is not cool. But you'll have to admit the SR-71 Blackbird is still a neat plane.
Just like Selena Gomez, a thing can both be beautiful and a source of cruelty, terror and despair.
I was in the presence of a P-51 Mustang taking off once, and it made me like Selena Gomez even more.
The SR-71 only took pictures, and not only so we could blow that stuff up later.
It makes me sad that the fastest air breathing aircraft first flew about the time I was born, and last flew before I got around to having kids.
While traveling through Virginia, I stopped at the Smithsonian's Udvar-Hazy Center. (If you like airplanes, it's a must-see. Free admission! Free late-afternoon parking!)
I thought I was making a sort of spiritual pilgrimage to see the SR-71 and the Space Shuttle. And they were both great! Staggering technological achievements! But oddly underwhelming. The Shuttle project sadly crippled by its mission to truck military hardware into orbit, and the SR-71 a sneaky cool exercise in moving one guy and some cameras really, really fast.
I really wasn't prepared for the Concorde. In pictures it always looked skinny, silly, effete. In person it dwarfed everything else in the room, including the 707 in the foreground. Up close, the Concorde looks like you walked into a Sid Mead painting. It's completely insane, like a nuclear ICBM, but in a very different way. We had no excuse to make an airliner like that.
Concorde had its own difficult subtext about wealth, cultural propaganda, and staggering waste. But it's as if for a few years, humanity had STEM nailed down so hard, we could afford to move up the hierarchy of needs and turn our titanium sledgehammer onto Art.
(Halfway between the SR-71 and the Concorde they have the Enola Gay.)
Also, near the space shuttle is an actual balloon bomb the Japanese "dropped" on us in World War II:
I just heard the Radiolab podcast on this the other day. The contrast between the little Japanese girls helping to make these fragile, complex things with their desperate chances of even getting across the ocean and the terror of the one that killed some people was surprising and intense.
There's also a nice bus loop that stops there. I did a round trip via subway and bus last Nov when I was in DC for Susecon.
I actually liked a lot of the displays of things like toys, various space foods, general engineering stuff (related to flight) and all almost more than the planes themselves. But the Udvar-Hazy center is a definite must for any fan of airplanes. I've found that most people don't seem to even know about it. Another less well known smithsonian gem that I liked: the postal museum. I went because my grandfather was a postman after he retired from the navy but it ended up having a few really cool exhibits. The postsecret one alone was very interesting to see vs reading on the web.
Technically the Turkish Air Force have F4 and F16 fighters, which do not have double vertical stabilizers.
that extra tail fin makes them sound like completely unlike other death-from-above machines.
I just keep waiting for a pilot's nuts to itch and then wipe out a few city blocks. (The pilot, not their nuts.)
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