Send My Conscience Home in a Taxi

Externalised Memory

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Fly Fly Plane Plane
Cat Go Blah Blah Blah
For reasons that are not entirely clear to me, I went to the Airshow down in Avalon when it was on a few weeks back. Odd behavior, I realise, for a committed lefty like myself. Going to watch a bunch of fighter jets scream around and strafing Geelong... I used to be into planes when I was a kid, and worked sorta in the industry for a while, till I got my current job... So I know a fair bit about 'em.

It was... Mildly interesting. There seemed to be a truck load of American planes there, but no interesting Airbuses or Russian planes. A great deal of them were actually flying around, which I guess is what you want in a plane. But... I dunno, maybe I'm getting too blase for my own good. I stood there watching mad pilots throwing their little planes all over the sky, and I was kinda thinking "whatever..." Once you've seen one plane tumbling about, you've pretty much seen them all...

Even the fighter jets, which are easily the loudest things on earth, were weirdly repetitive - they all did more or less the same set of manoeuvres - screaming along at high speed, barrel roles, loops... Blah blah blah. I mean, it's kinda impressive seeing a plane fly straight up into a cloud, but you've seen it once... it ain't going to be much different the next time around.

There was a big motherfucker of a transport plane that I was impressed by. It took off in about the length of Swanston Street, then heaved its 120 ton frame at an impressive angle into the sky. Watching this airplane equivalent of a Elephant bounce around the clouds was something else. After it landed they made it back up which was novel.

There was also a fly by of a B-52. Man, thats a big friggin plane as well. Wouldn't want a flock of them coming in at high altitude over my country.

And my conscience was getting the better of me towards the end - these jets would come screaming in at high speed, and I was thinking, if I was actually in, say, a Palestinian refugee camp and I heard that sound, I'd have every right to be scared shitless. This seems to go unmentioned as all these men are admiring flying Monaro's - they're killing machines. Get in low and fast, drop something explosive, get out again. Not to mention that an F-111 costs AU$160,000 an hour to fly...

There were some great old planes - as usual, I'm attracted to the old shit - an old Constellation airliner, for example. It did a brief bit of flying, but came back fairly quickly with one of its four engines switched off - them must have been pretty glad to get back on the ground, that thing is fifty years old if it's a day.

But in the end, I'm not really sure why I went. In some ways, planes are worse than cars - at least there a new models every year. If you're into cars, there's something newish regularly. Planes take decades to get off the ground (pardon the pun) and keep flying for decades after that, so there's not often anything new to see. And the "show" finished with some really naff mock ground attacks, conveniently placed explosives on the ground timed to go off then some little stunt plane passed by. Egad.

It also doesn't help when you've worked in the defence industry. I know for example that from a commander's point of view, each of these planes is just a symbol on a screen, going where it is told, shooting when instructed etc. etc. The Right Stuff my arse. Anyway, maybe it'd have been more fun if I taken someone whom I could name aeroplanes too. That's a neptune. That's a Hercules. Here we have a C-27. And over here a Learjet... This is a DC-3 etc. etc. etc.

I think I will stick to being a nerd nerd, rather than a plane nerd :-)


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