Friday, October 21, 2011

A San Francisco liberal visits the Pima Air & Space Museum

Is it possible to be a liberal pacifist and still think planes - even warplanes that rain death and destruction on unsuspecting innocents - are cool? Yes. Yes it is.

When we were visiting my Mom in Arizona, I prevailed upon her to go to the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson. It was unbelievably cool if you like planes, like I do.

My Dad was a pilot, so I come by it naturally. I grew up in the copilot seat as he flew us around. When I was born, he was making mad cash flying DC-3s between Bangkok and Saigon for Continental Airlines. Before that, he flew for the Army. Yes, the Army had planes too. This is the kind of plane he flew.

Moms didn't care for the museum much. She got focused on the death & destruction aspect and finally took a seat by the B-24 Liberator and let us wander around. We went to the next hangar and checked out the B-29 Superfortress, the bomber that dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Not these actual planes, but the same model.

Outside, they have acres and acres of decommissioned military aircraft. It was actually pretty incredible. Even The Wife loved it. Not so much Mom.

I guess all of us in San Francisco have the same internal debate every year when the Blue Angels appear during Fleet Week and fly over SF, terrifying our pets and simultaneously annoying and impressing us. On the one hand, yes, it's an obscene display of militarism and our horrifying involvement in misguided foreign wars. On the other hand, it's pretty FUCKING AMAZING. As the son of a military pilot, who grew up loving aviation, and then grew into a single-payer-healthcare-wanting, bring-on-the-new-New-Deal bleeding heart liberal, I'm used to seeing it and LOVING it and feeling like "Ugh, this is wrong." It's possible to have both ideas in one's mind simultaneously.

Hard to argue with the World War II planes, right? I mean, we can't argue that stopping Hitler was a good thing, right? Plus, the F-4 Corsair is maybe my favorite plane ever. I love its clean lines. Fuck, I sound like I'm reviewing it for Dwell magazine or something.

Anyway, pretty cool. Have a good weekend.


Anonymous said...

Same here - my dad was a fighter pilot. I love jets and I love socialized medicine. Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes. (Also, I like tacos.)

Then you have the irony of the military being one of the biggest socialist organizations in the country - medical, housing, subsidized food...

This shit was all so much easier in the Cold War.

Tamagosan said...

I have never known anything else but pools of blood streaming from my heart, and yet I really can't get enough big artillery, namely cannons and related guns. But there's also something else going on there that doesn't apply to you boys.

Anyway, if your pops was flying for Continental around that part of Asia, I can only assume he had to stop by Guam once in a while. Maybe not, but you just might have more Guam cred than me.

Speaking of atomic bombs, I flew over the actual island (Tinian, not far from Guam in the Northern Mariana Islands) where those planes took off, and then dived off its shores. It makes me sad that it was kind of thrilling...