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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Photos For Wingnuts

I am a Wingnut myself. If I am having a conversation with you and I hear an aircraft passing overhead, forgive me if I look up into the sky in mid-sentence in order to look at the plane. It's not personal, I am not being rude but you must understand that I have an illness that causes involuntary upwards head movements whenever I hear a turbine whine or an unmuffled, aircooled horizontally opposed or radial engine overhead. Cessna, Boeing, Piper, Lockheed, Grumman or McDonnell-Douglas, it doesn't matter. I am gonna look.

I have been this way since I can remember. I can spend hours just looking at airplane photos on A perfect day for me is lying on the hood of my car at the approach end of the runway of an international airport watching the endless parade of airliners passing over my sunburned tonsils. Fellow sufferers of this malady will understand, the rest won't and never will.

To me, aircraft and the act of flying them is a combination of skill, beauty, art and technology. Nothing else comes close.

I wanted to share the attached photos that a good friend sent me (thanks Rog). They are of the F-35 Lightning II, the USAF's next generation air superiority fighter. Variants of the F-35 are being developed to serve with the Navy and Marine Corps including a VTOL version to replace the excellent, but aging Harrier.

The F-35 is chased by an F-16 Falcon. The photos are taken over the beaches of the Florida Panhandle which just happens to be where I was born and raised. The aircraft are based out of Eglin Air Force Base which is visible in the background in a couple of the photos.

To me, all aircraft are easy on the eye due to the "form follows function" rule, especially the high performance ones. Any machine designed to cheat gravity and go faster than a bullet at the same time has to have a pleasing, organic shape that gets along with, rather than fight natural forces.

The F-35 may be the last advanced U.S. fighter designed to have a human at the controls. The recent advances in remote control via satellite and the success that the UAV's have been having as armed platforms at the front lines may make manned fighters an anachronism. The end of an era for the "Knights of the Sky".

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