Monday, October 13, 2014

Air Strike One

They're back. It seems like we hardly had a chance to miss them, and now we won't have to: The Blue Angels took to the skies over San Francisco this weekend, reminding us all here in the Bay Area of just how mighty and majestic a certain amount of jet fuel can make us all feel, right down to our American toes.
The practice runs are the part that we are never quite prepared for, coming as they do in the middle of an otherwise unremarkable work week. This contrasts completely with the memories I have of how things were thirteen years ago, right after the September 11 attacks, when there were no airplanes in the sky. With all the airports in our area, it is a rare occurrence when there isn't at least one flight of some sort overhead, but those days right after the World Trade Center towers crumbled to the ground, it made sense that there would be nothing in the sky, but the silence was palpable.
That was similar to the way it felt last year when the sequester shut down certain excessive and frivolous activities of our government. Frivolous? Did I say that? How are the Blue Angels "frivolous?" Maybe it has something to do with the cost of fueling those jets to fly in formation over the relatively friendly streets of San Francisco. Maybe it has to do with the potential cost of military and civilian casualties in the event of a mishap. Perhaps these are outweighed by the show of force that these airshows allow. I won't forget the sight of a Stealth Bomber coming up over the Oakland skyline as part of its practice run across the bay. Just like the way we run to the windows when we hear the roar of all that exhaust and the periodic sonic booms, as opposed to the way that certain nations and their people run for cover when they hear the same sounds. For them, it's not a celebration of American Air Superiority, but an American Air Raid.
So maybe we should be a little intimidated. If some of the current thinking about our fascist president turns out to be true, then maybe we should be a little more concerned about Fleet Week as a form of urban pacification, rather than a showcase for all our best and brightest. Or perhaps we could achieve the same overall result by sending up a flight of drones: more fuel efficient and if they happen to crash into a neighborhood or park, at least the pilot would be safe.
Or maybe somehow I've missed the point.

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