This past weekend, I made a trip to an air show in Lincoln, NE, as part of an assignment for my photography class. I was there to see the people, but while there, something stood out to me. While I was there, I got to see a tactical demonstration of the A-10 Thunderbolt II, a close air support plane, shown in the picture(s).
To some extent, the A-10 is a marvel of human achievement. It can fly in ways that really shouldn’t be possible, and can do that after losing an engine, all hydraulics, and an entire wing. It’s designed to be incredibly durable and maneuverable, and it succeeds in both of those.
What really stands out about it, though, is its dedication to its purpose.
It isn’t an aircraft so much as a flying gun.
A flying gun that can strafe a target with uranium rounds the size of coke bottles at something like 4000 rounds a minute, turn around in midair, and repeat 30 seconds later.
It is very good at what it does.
The thing is, what it does is kill people.
Further than that, we were here to celebrate it. To watch as it demonstrated its (admittedly impressive) capabilities. From an engineering standpoint, it’s an incredible machine. But from a human standpoint? From that, I’d say it’s pretty morbid.
The teeth painted on the front around the 30 mm gatling gun on the nose really didn’t help. The A-10 is pretty terrifying.
I’m not here to discuss the politics of war. Others are more informed and more eloquent than I. Celebrating a weapon, though, especially in remembrance of a tragedy, seems a bit off from what we as Americans claim our ideals to be.