Paradoxical phase, when weak stimuli get strong responses…. When did it happen? A certain early stage of sleep: you had not heard the Mosquitoes and Lancasters tonight on route to Germany, their engines battering apart the sky, shaking and ripping it, for a full hour, a few puffs of winter cloud drifting below the steel-riveted underside of the night, vibrating with the constancy, the terror, of so many bombers outward bound. Your own form immobile, mouth-breathing, alone face-up on the narrow cot next to the wall so pictureless, chartless, mapless: so habitually Hank… .Your feet pointed toward a high slit window at the far end of the room. Starlight, the steady sound of the bombers’ departure, icy air seeping in. The table littered with broken-spined books, scribbled columns headed Time / Stimulus / Secretion (30 sec) / Remarks, teacups, saucers, pencils, pens. You slept, you dreamed: thousands of feet above your face the steel bombers passed, wave after wave.
—-Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
“Now at this very moment I knew that the United States was in the war, up to the neck and in to the death. So we had won after all! … How long the war would last or in what fashion it would end no man could tell, nor did I at this moment care … We should not be wiped out. Our history would not come to an end … Hitler’s fate was sealed. Mussolini’s fate was sealed. As for the Japanese, they would be ground to a powder. All the rest was merely the proper application of overwhelming force.”
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
“When shoes and clothes and food, when hope is gone we’ll all have the rifle.”
― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath
I have worked a lot over the years, worked on ways to carry things on my bicycle. I have never, however, worked on how to carry a carbine on my handlebar.
“turn him into stars and form a constellation in his image. His face will make the heavens so beautiful that the world will fall in love with the night and forget about the garish sun.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
I have always had a soft spot for the C-47, the military version of the DC3. At the airshow they offered semi-affordable rides in the venerable old birds. Not really worth it for me, I’ve ridden on them so many times before.
“I have said that Texas is a state of mind, but I think it is more than that. It is a mystique closely approximating a religion. And this is true to the extent that people either passionately love Texas or passionately hate it and, as in other religions, few people dare to inspect it for fear of losing their bearings in mystery or paradox. But I think there will be little quarrel with my feeling that Texas is one thing. For all its enormous range of space, climate, and physical appearance, and for all the internal squabbles, contentions, and strivings, Texas has a tight cohesiveness perhaps stronger than any other section of America. Rich, poor, Panhandle, Gulf, city, country, Texas is the obsession, the proper study, and the passionate possession of all Texans.”
― John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley: In Search of America
You lived and died alone, especially in fighters. Fighters. Somehow, despite everything, that word had not become sterile. You slipped into the hollow cockpit and strapped and plugged yourself into the machine. The canopy ground shut and sealed you off. Your oxygen, your very breath, you carried into the chilled vacuum, in a steel bottle.
— James Salter, The Hunters
Like most guys, I was an airplane geek when I was a kid. I especially loved WWII planes.
To visit a vintage air show brings back odd memories – I remember building models of every plane there – from decades and decades ago, the smell of styrene, glue, and Testor’s paint. I had even built a Bell P-39 Airacobra and remember it after all that time. I remember it had its engine in the back and powered the prop by a shaft that ran between the pilot’s legs.
It was never very successful for the US Air Force because of poor high altitude performance, but the Russians used it to great effect. Their fighting was all along the ground.
I never thought I’d actually get to see one fly, but I did. Pretty cool.