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The Air Show

Every year the military hosts a free public air show at Andrews Air Force Base in the Washington D.C. area.  This show gives the military an opportunity to strut its stuff, show off to the general public, and of course impress the Very Important People that need to be impressed in Washington.

The show was packed with displays of military hardware of all types – most of which was designed to fly.  There were a few land vehicles as well.  Visitors could see, touch, and tour a variety of fantastic equipment such as a B-52 bomber, the C-5 and a variety of other cargo planes, combat helicopters, search & rescue aircraft, even NASA’s “Super Guppy” designed to carry oversized spacecraft items.  Some were unique.  Others were just one of a whole fleet purchased by the military.  All were quite expensive to purchase, to maintain, and to operate.

In addition to the static displays there was a fabulous air show continuing throughout the entire day.  Airplanes

  • Flew straight up like a rocket
  • Hovered in the sky suspended from an invisible thread
  • Fell out of the sky and tumbled every which way
  • Screamed full throttle straight down to pull out at the last moment
  • Danced on their tail as if tiptoeing through the sky
  • …and much more.

Flying low to ground

The flying acrobatics were so amazing you could not help but catch your breath as the plane careened toward the ground or screamed unexpectedly overhead, the thunder of the jet engines reverberating in your body.  It was an awe inspiring spectacle indeed.

Blue Angels and more

Everything was beautifully made with incredible precision.  Everything was executed to perfection.  Everything was carefully maintained and awesome, thanks to our dedicated servicemen who use these fantastic pieces of equipment to protect our country, to help in times of disasters, and to serve whenever or wherever they are called upon to do so.  Servicemen, we salute you and thank you for your dedication, your courage, your sacrifice, and your good work.

The whole show was so incredible.  Flying machines beyond imagination.  Flying skill beyond imagination.  Personal dedication and sacrifice beyond imagination.  Simply awesome!  So many big and small boy toys…  Don’t miss it next year.  (More pictures)

All is not as it looks, though.

Awe inspiring as the entire show may have been, I could not escape a personal sense of unease.  There was this bittersweet feeling of a great past slipping away.  A feeling that was deep down, not yet real but nevertheless there; it was a foreboding of something being not quite right.

I could not escape the realization of how much it costs to acquire and maintain this entire marvelous military infrastructure.  I could not escape knowing that our government currently borrows 40¢ of each dollar it spends just to meet its bills and its total debt is $50,000,000,000,000 or more[1].

The Bible teaches that the debtor is slave to the lender.  Have we become slaves and lost our freedom without a single shot?  Yesterday’s image at the currency exchange kept haunting me:  $1.35 US per Canadian dollar, and even weaker compared to every other currency as well.  Years ago the Canadian dollar used to be worth a mere 80¢ US – but not today!  The strength of a nation’s currency is a more accurate indicator of its inherent strength than its military hardware, but our politicians don’t seem to care…  Is there a hidden warning we’re ignoring?

I also could not escape the realization that even if we were to completely eliminate the entire defense budget, our government would still be well in the red.  I could not forget 9-11 and could not assume that our enemy has miraculously changed his mind.  This world remains an extremely dangerous place; the threats keep multiplying.

I could not help but notice that the wondrous military capability on display is the fruit of work accomplished in previous decades.  Are we continuing to keep it current, or are we just coasting on our past accomplishments?  Do we have the political will to keep pressing onward?  Even if we had the will, do we have the funds?  How soon will the next 9-11 come?

Truly, one would not expect such a public display to include the latest and greatest military gear lest our enemies gain vital information about our technology and capabilities.  But the fact that some of the hardware on display was “ancient” technology from a bygone era (the B-52 for example originally entered service in the early 1950s) simply underscored the precarious state of our nation.  In the case of all the great empires of the world, the military was the last piece of society to collapse.  Is that where we are?

B-52 Stratofortress: In the protective shadow of its wings

I simply could not escape the image of a huge oak tree, seemingly robust and strong on the outside, but totally rotten and eaten by termites on the inside.  Then I was compelled to write the posting Once Again.

To see more Air Show pictures click here.


© 2012 notasitlooks

[1] Includes all unfunded federal liabilities including unfunded social programs.  The total has been estimated to be as high as $200,000,000,000,000.

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