I feel strange about the Thunderbirds flyover

Along with thousands of others, I witnessed today’s flyover of the Air Force Thunderbirds and (I presume) the Navy’s Blue Angels. I didn’t leave my apartment; I could see it just fine from the view from my sunroom that overlooks Fort Myer.

As the planes approached from the northeast and turned to the north along the Potomac river, I thought two things:

  1. I remember back in 2005 when I flew in an F-16 (the same plane that is used for the Thunderbirds).
  2. It’s kind of strange that we used a military marketing troupe as the sign of gratitude to health workers.

And I kept thinking about the second thought. These planes are generally used at air shows as recruiting tools to woo young Americans into thinking about joining the military, and of course they are also used for flyovers at sporting events, which also serve as recruiting tools.

So why was it that they were now being used as a tool to thank the health care industry?

In the United States, unless you live under a rock, you of course realize that our military is the pride and joy of the country. It’s the one thing you’re not supposed to boo. Even if you don’t like the wars, you still support the troops. Red, white, and blue. It’s something everyone can rally around.

And I suppose that’s why the flyovers are taking place, using them as a “rally ’round the flag” type of thing. A “we’re all in this together” type of thing.

But then I thought further. How many of these air escapades were we doing? I remember back in 2005 in South Carolina a conversation I had with the operations chief for the 77th fighter squadron.

“Parker, if you lose consciousness in the plane, we’ve got to do a full mission abort and all the planes have to return home,” he said. “These planes cost $16,000 per hour to fly. Remember that.”

$16,000 an hour of flight time for an F-16. I saw 12 planes in the sky today, and presuming they were in the air for an hour, it cost about $200,000. Every time they do another one, it costs that much more…and on and on.

So then I think to myself: what’s the purpose of all of this?

If the government wanted to thank health care workers, wouldn’t it be best to have governors, senators, representatives, other elected officials, famous people, and really anyone who has influence stand outside of a hospital with a big sign that says “thank you!”? Then the media can cover it, people can watch on social media, etc.

Why do we think we should use weapons of war as a sign of gratitude to those who protect life?

Like I said, it just seemed strange…

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