Tag Archives: United States

Skin the Survivor: The Amazing Life of an American Icon

Known in Japanese as “Father Island”, Chichijima is the biggest in the Ogasawara archipelago, and strategically located in the Pacific Ocean for an empire attempting to make the most of their moves against a western superpower. Expanding upon a modest naval port built in 1914, the Japanese created a key World War II post upon the island that rises out of the Pacific roughly 1000 kilometers south of mainland Japan and 250 kilometers north of Iwo Jima. Chichijima sent critical troops and supplies to its more well known neighbor island before the famous late winter battle took place. Yet while American troops famously raised their flag atop Iwo Jima’s Mount Suribachi, they never captured Chichijima in wartime. This does not mean the they did not try to; quite the opposite. Even before the battle of Iwo Jima, Chichijima was a thorn in the Allies’ side due to its prominent role as radio communications hub for the Japanese Navy. In order for the Americans to achieve in the Pacific Theater, Chichijima simply had to go.

In September 1944, the United States Navy took to the air and assembled the Avengers, in this case, four TBM Avenger torpedo bombers. This was the same plane that Paul Newman flew on as a rear gunner, but as cool as the man who played Cool Hand Like was, we are not here to discuss him. We’re here to talk about Skin.

Fairly fresh off of being called up to the big leagues as the (then) youngest naval airman ever on June 9th of 1943, a skinny pilot who was three days way from turning 19 was making a name for himself. Eventually his slim figure garnered him the nickname “Skin”. Skin’s skill was evident, and his squadron helped win the massive Battle of the Philippine Sea, but it was his role in a critical attack on Chichijima that cemented his legacy as a Navy airman.

On September 2, 1944, Skins and company took flight over the island with the intent to knock out the radio tower and kill the island’s critical communication. All the planes took heavy fire, including Skin’s, and he knew he was going down. However, before bailing into the ocean, Skin dropped his payload and BOOOM! took down the tower! Skin’s two crewmen died. He was one of nine total airman who had successfully survived crash landings, but the other eight were captured, brought to Chichijima’s Japanese commanders, and tortured. In what is now known as the Chichijima Incident, the eight unfortunate airmen were beaten and later beheaded under the order of Lieutenant General Yoshio Tachibana, who even encouraged his men to eat the livers of the Americans. Tachibana was later tried, convicted of war crimes, and hanged.

Skin was lucky enough to be rescued by the USS Finback, a submarine that carried him away to safety as the only survivor of his squadron who had to bail out in the raid on Chichijima. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his heroism, but he was more focused on a different aspect of the battle’s aftermath: why, of nine men, was he the only one to survive? Did he have some greater purpose, or role yet to play. As it happens, he did. Some time after the battle, he married his girlfriend, Barbara Pierce, and he would remain devoted to her for the next 73 years. Once discharged from the Navy, Skin attended Yale and earned an economics degree. He even was elected president of his fraternity!

Of course, this would pale to later accomplishments, as he would be eventually be elected to a more prominent presidential office where he was no longer known as “Skin” the hotshot Navy airman, but George Herbert Walker Bush, the 41st President of the United States of America.

Following graduation from Yale, Bush promptly moved with his family to Texas and became a successful oil businessman. After a few attempts to jump into politics, he was elected to the House of Representatives in 1966. He never made it into the Senate, but then President Nixon pegged him to become Ambassador to the United Nations. His time there was known mostly for his unsuccessful attempt to sway the UN from expelling Taiwan from the floor in favor of the People’s Republic of China. He later worked as a liaison to China for Gerald Ford, but first followed his UN gig with one as head of the Republican National Committee.

As RNC Chairman, Bush’s political beliefs and faith in Richard Nixon, the man who had placed him in prime positions, was shaken by the Watergate scandal. Initially, Bush defended his party and president, but it soon became clear to him that the latter had committed crimes and was a threat to the former. He encouraged Nixon to resign, and helped rebuild the Republican party after Nixon obliged. Gerald Ford considered Bush for his vice president, but instead selected him to fill the role of CIA Director. Bush only spent just under a year in the position throughout 1976 until Jimmy Carter assumed the presidency on January 20, 1977. Brief though it was, Bush is credited with reinstating trust in the CIA in his time there after some major scandals had shaken the agency – although his CIA also supported Operation Condor, which lent a hand to Latin American dictators where it helped American interests out.

Hey, this ain’t no puff piece, and George H.W. Bush certainly made mistakes. Nevertheless, in rare form for political candidates of any era, he often admitted when he was wrong, sometimes directly, and many an occasion with policy change. He ran for president himself in 1980, and lost, but was chosen by eventual winner Ronald Reagan to be vice president, and after eight years of service in that role, he won the big election for himself. In time after taking over the presidency, Bush realized that Reagan had made some big oopsies, especially where his economic policy (which Bush never loved) was concerned. Bush went against his predecessor, and his own famous campaign promise (“Read my lips: no new taxes”), in an effort to fix the financial situation.

Besides seeking balance in the budget, Bush also balanced his own agenda with the needs of all Americans and frequently worked with a Democrat-dominated Congress to pass some of the most important policy in the last few decades, and perhaps some of the most important in American history.

At his core, George H.W. Bush stuck to his guns – well, not really, actually – and this is what made him a beloved leader and American figure: his ability to admit when he was wrong and to put aside political pushes when it interfered with progress. We all change over time, and George H.W. Bush was no exception. His direction may have wobbled at times, as our own does with time, but he always sought to move this country in the right direction, and even though that may not have been immediately apparent to all of his constituents and contemporaries at the time of his presidency, it is clear that time has shone what a great American he truly was. Rest in peace, Mr. President, or as I probably should say, Barbara’s loving husband.

Thanks for reading. If you want to explore the life of George H.W. Bush more extensively, then read this New York Times article and watch this Vox video:

Goodbye Mr. Bush,

Alex

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Excelsior!

Last Monday, we lost a pop culture legend who made some of the most memorable characters pop off the pages of Marvel comic books for decades, and was perhaps the most prominent figure in the silver age of comics: Stan Lee.

Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find someone who is unfamiliar with Stan Lee. Whether it be from reading the comics he wrote, or watching for his “Where’s Waldo”-like cameo appearances in the television and film adaptations of Marvel’s works, you’ve seen Stan Lee somewhere before. Chances are, you know quite a lot about his story already, which comes as no surprise given his notability and natural talent to entertain. I have seen a lot of tribute articles and videos explaining details of his life, yet I feel like this one from YouTuber Captain Midnight provides the most honest look at what made Stan Lee such a revered writer and creator, as well as how making the Marvel empire was not a one man job:

Lesser known, is Lee’s early life prior to being the big man at Marvel, but his ability to bring a smile to those invested in his media was ever-present. In 1939, Stanley Lieber began working at Timely Comics. He would, of course, later become Stan Lee, just as Timely Comics would later become Marvel. For the first couple of years he served as a glorified gofer, until Stan’s earliest work as a writer came in 1941 with “Captain America Foils the Traitor’s Revenge”, which happens to be the comic that first featured Captain America using his shield as a frisbee to beat the bad guys.

The next year, following the United States’ entrance into World War II, Lee joined the Army and served as a member of the Signal Corps, ensuring that communications devices worked properly. He eventually was moved the the Training Film Division, tasked with making training materials, as well as cartoons. Obviously, it was a good fit for him.

After the war, Lee worked as a writer for a hodgepodge of comic styles, but started to lose interest until that key “fuck it” moment where he teamed up with Jack Kirby and created the Fantastic Four. From there, he, Kirby, Steve Ditko, and many others went on to introduce the world to a cavalcade of characters with fantastic abilities, yet relatable human traits and flaws, and through numerous business ups and downs, those characters are enshrined in the global popular culture, and we just can’t get enough of them.

There will be more new faces in Marvel and other comic distributors (as there have been for a long time since Stan Lee downgraded his duties at Marvel in the 1990s), but we will always remember the first ones who shared our daily struggles despite their superpowers, and we’ll always remember the man who helped make them that way.

Thanks for watching and reading! Be sure to silver surf back her next week, and enjoy your Thanksgiving celebration(s) with friends and family! Maybe you all can watch a Marvel movie and look for the smiling man with glasses to say something funny.

Go Buckeyes!

Alex

P.S. My favorite of the many cameos just happens to be the most recent:

Forgive and Never Forget

While I rarely watch the show live, and infrequently pay much attention to many of the skits beyond the opening and whatever gets buzz, I enjoy watching Saturday Night Live to see the news from the week be mocked as it is often a spot on skewering of something silly done by a world leader, news organization, or celebrity. My favorite part of the show is the Weekend Update segment with Michael Che and Colin Jost, and I am always enthusiastic to see them joined by Pete Davidson to give his hilarious and brutally honest observations on life’s happenings. A couple of weeks ago, in the wake of Kanye West’s bizarre end of show rant that was not aired live but went viral afterwards, Davidson made plenty of jokes, but also a poignant assessment of mental illness, bringing his own personal battle into the discussion as an example of how someone contending with such issues should not use them as “an excuse to act like a jackass”.

Last week, Davidson’s unfiltered take on political candidates in the midterm election was met with distaste from both sides of the aisle regarding his remarks of Texas congressional candidate Dan Crenshaw. Davidson described his surprise that Crenshaw, who has an eyepatch, is running for office and not working as “a hitman in a porno movie”. In truth, Crenshaw is a first time candidate for office and won his election seat to the 2nd Congressional District in Texas, which circles around the north and west of Houston. Crenshaw did this in spite of having been critical of Donald Trump’s rhetoric in the 2016 presidential election. However, Crenshaw is a military veteran, having served in the Navy as a SEAL from 2006-2016. He served on three tours, including in Afghanistan where he lost his eye in combat. He was moved to Bahrain and later South Korea, before finally retiring, but not before he achieved the rank of Lieutenant Commander and was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart. Upon returning to the United States, Crenshaw attedning Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government and earned a Master’s degree in Public Policy.

Lt. Com. Dan Crenshaw is an American hero who has served his country in its Armed Forces, and will soon serve it as a congressman, but what truly makes him heroic is his desire to unite Americans, not so politically as left and right, but in a manner too often ignored, in really connecting with veterans of the Armed Forces and the first responders in our communities. Not to mention, his ability to see past a joke, even one made in bad taste, to forgive and unite as we all should.

Yesterday was Veterans Day, but we should thank our veterans and first responders each day, and do more than offer a kind, yet simple “thanks for your service”. Where we can truly make a connection to those who give there all to keep us safe, we absolutely should offer back all that we can to do so.

Never forget,

Alex

Snakes and Flamethrowers

Tomorrow is the most important day for citizens of the United States of America. If you have not already voted early or by absentee ballot, I strongly encourage you to do so tomorrow on Election Day. Check out your area’s ballot ahead of time on Ballotpedia and do the necessary research to determine who and what you want to vote for.

I have already studied up on mine, but determine which people I want in each position was easier for me this year because for the first time I have opted to vote completely based on party allegiance. I have always been more of a moderate, once leaning more conservatively and more recently more liberally, yet I am not seeking to vote for either party, but against one. I am not a fan of the two-party system, but it is what we have right now in the USA, and as much as I’d like for there to not even need to be a designation for my political figures as I would hope that they could work together to make my country and my world a better place, I realize that that is just not that realistic. It’s difficult for candidates to win without the backing of either the Democratic or Republican party,  so I’ve always looked more closely at the candidates themselves to determine if they are more in the middle like me and willing to work with others even if they do not agree with them on everything. In today’s political climate though, there is just no peace to be had if you sit on the right side of the aisle, and that has resonated with me to the tune of steering my votes definitively away from anyone with an “R” next to their name.

I hope that if you are a fellow citizen of the United States of America that you will vote tomorrow. I do not care if you vote the same as me; I just want you to exercise your most powerful right to choose to who represents you and your needs. I am not attempting to sway anyone to vote similarly to me; rather I am seeking to explain how I came to my decisions in the hopes that you will also do your due diligence in vetting your candidates and issues, and I hope that you will factor everything into account to make the most informed decision you can.

As for my stance, I doubt that I will ever vote for a Republican candidate again. The Grand Old Party has lost itself in its urge to hold control, and I cannot abide its tactics and disgusting rhetoric.

I don’t appreciate the fear-mongering that this party stirs up in order to scare people into thinking that if they don’t vote for Republicans then bad things are going to happen. Look at this video from Vox about how this has been utilized in recent years to great effect:

Approaching immigrants are not the greatest threat to this country; our greatest threat is the same as everyone else’s: global climate change. That issue is constantly ignored or defamed by Republicans who often receive support from fossil fuel companies.

Republicans feed off of fear, as well as anger, and I am becoming increasingly angry… at them. I am fed up with the party who refuses to even bring the subject of gun reform to the table while continued shootings occur; who won’t denounce white nationalists and gets cozy with their support; who denounces science and facts and promotes falsehoods; who allows powerful men to get a pass for continued mistreatment of women; who turns a blind eye to foreign governments who commit atrocities as long as we profit from them; who attempt to distract from their own mishandling of health care with lies and fearful distractions; and most importantly of all, the party who absolutely refuses to work across the aisle with people with different ideologies from them.

Many of these same issues were pointed out by comedian Chelsea Peretti in a tweet urging voters to remember how distasteful Republicans have been:

Two of my favorite comedians who offer so much more insight than simple humor have also recently weighed in a recent interview you can see some of here:

I honestly would love to see Jon Stewart leading this nation in an elected or appointed role, but I know it is not his preference. I can certainly live with his continued sage wisdom offered to expose the hypocrisy of everyone. Furthermore, I would love to see more collaborations between him and Dave Chappelle, who remains my favorite stand-up comedian and the sharpest identifier and critic of racism and division among people.

Seth Myers spoke about the most recent news of the Republican push for his election while reiterating the same point of how the GOP is aiming to distract with fear to swindle voters:

Finally, I encourage you to take a look at another of my favorite comedians who regularly points out the problems in politics just like his old boss:

I am heartbroken by that. The separation of families is a greater crime than any perceived push across a border, and I am furious at the people who put this policy in place and seek to do it again. Besides comedians, I have liked the message sent by some politicians, such as this from Michael Bloomberg:

I am not a Democrat; I am an American who tries to keep a kind heart and an open mind. My views have changed and grown as I have, and I have always tried to maintain my path down the middle to ensure that I am not swayed by either extreme. I am not a fan of the Aristotlean bent stick remedy that calls for one to change his or her vices by shifting them to the opposite extreme, for this can become a shift back and forth between extremes that ignores the truly desired middleground. This is often observed in politics where the party in power gradually gives way to minority party. Republicans lose control to the Democrats who then lose control to the Republicans who then lose control to the Democrats and so on and so on and so on. We grow weary from watching the political ping pong. What’s the point if the shift is just going to happen again?

This time though, I urge the bent stick swing. Within Aristotle’s philosophy is a statement that is especially applicable to this American election. According to Aristotle, the reason why one with vices must work to shift to the opposite extreme is because people who are out of balance are usually unable to judge balance. In this case, Republicans as a whole do not realize how far they’ve gone because they have no sense of proper center anymore. They have shifted their ideology so far to the right that they are drifting dangerously closer to dictatorial fascism, and it is up to us, the American voters, to shift the center back to the center.

I included this video in my last post, but it is worth watching again here:

Thanks for reading and watching. Please vote tomorrow for what you believe in, not what someone tries to scare you into. Again, I do not care if you disagree with me, and I would rather have a full representation of the opinions of Americans provided in the best way it can be: your vote.

Alex

The Greatest Speech Never Given

Last week, I wrote about the anniversary of the launch of Apollo 11, the world’s first manned lunar landing mission that saw Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin walk on the Moon. The mission was the successful exclamation point that seemed to permanently declare the United States as the winners of the Space Race, and it went surprisingly smoothly for such a novel scientific venture. Everyone at NASA clearly did their research, and the expedition to collect lunar rocks, film and photograph the lunar landscape, and of course visit the Moon in person for the first time in history.

But what if things didn’t work out that way?

This was the scenario posed to William Safire by some of President Richard Nixon’s aides. Thus he drew up a plan for how to have the president handle the unfortunate circumstance where the men on the Moon mission never make it back. Safire was a speechwriter for Nixon on both of his presidential campaigns, and later wrote for The New York Times as a political columnist. In his memo, In Event of Moon Disaster he advised that Nixon address a potential major mission failure  by first contacting the astronaut’s wives with his sympathies, then by giving his brief, but powerful tribute speech, and finally by having a clergyman official commend the men’s souls in the same practice as a burial at sea.

It may seem grim in hindsight, but the reality is that Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins were explorers venturing bravely into uncharted territory in a vehicle that had never been taken on such a flight before. Even with their experience and the previous missions that tested the capabilities of the equipment and NASA to safely deliver men to the Moon and return them to Earth, it was far from a given. The most problematic part of the mission was in Collins’ picking Armstrong and Aldrin back up. If anything prevented the Command Module Collins was piloting from securing the Lunar Module that the others were in, then they were doomed to remain on the surface of the Moon.

So not only did Safire have to craft a speech that expressed a nation’s sadness in losing two of its best scientific explorers, he had to account for the fact that in all reality of  a failure, they would have to be left behind to die from starvation or suicide on the lunar plains. That is not an enviable death, and writing a statement to describe it in a way that present sympathy and resolve to keep exploring in spite of such a heavy loss is not an enviable task. Nevertheless, Safire did it, and he did it well. The remarks wisely follow the idea of not overdoing it and keep the piece short, yet this does not take away the somber sentiment within it. In fact, it’s terseness allows its listeners to focus on Armstrong and Aldrin, their sacrifice, and the future with some hope. In a manner reminiscent of the remarks of the man who defeated Nixon in the 1960 Presidential Race and opened his presidency with a challenge to explore space, Safire taps into the same vein that John F. Kennedy did. He closes the speech by saying, “Others will follow, and surely find their way home. Man’s search will not be denied.” Akin to Kennedy declaring that we will work toward a Moon mission and explore the cosmos and make other similar ventures “not because they are easy but because they are hard”, Safire offers the same push toward progress in space exploration that NASA has always worked for and assures us that nothing will stop this pursuit.

Here is the speech that William Safire wrote.

Here is a video of Benedict Cumberhot reading the speech in his Doctor Strange voice:

Fortunately, this speech was never needed, and Nixon visited the astronauts as they were in their post-lunar quarantine – a process we now know to be superfluous. Nixon went on to host a dinner in their honor and awarded them all the Presidential Medal of Freedom. They lived on to continue their careers and their lives, and they live on forever in the annals of history.

We can now appreciate Safire’s speech as a great speech that fortunately never was given.

Thanks for reading! Be sure to return here next week for the quarterly recap State of the Season.

I love you to the Moon and back,

Alex

Roe, Roe, Roe Your Vote

It’s a man’s world, like it or not. Even in countries with some of the best standard of living, such as my own United States of America, women rarely get an even break. Here in the States, men make more money in almost every career.  Factor in the unwanted advances of sexual harassment or worse that too many women experience and we’re looking at a rough working world for women in the USA. Consider also the general societal pressures placed upon women to dress and behave a certain way. What I really do not envy is how so many women are expected to be the producers and primary caretakers of children. Now we are really looking at some strenuous stuff that females in the United States have to contend with. So much is demanded of the ladies around us, that it is refreshing to see some justice offered to women which helps to assert their position as being equal citizens.

Today is the 45th anniversary of the US Supreme Court’s decisive ruling in Roe v. Wade. The Court determined by a 7-2 vote, that a woman could legal have and abortion in accordance with due process offered by the 14th Amendment, thereby striking down laws prohibiting abortion throughout the country. The landmark ruling still divides political and religious members today, but I believe that it is another critical victory for the betterment of women and society within the United States of America. just as the 19th Amendment finally granted women the right to vote in the US, Roe v. Wade secured a woman’s rights to her own body.

Roe v. Wade is widely known and referenced, but the initial court case that grew into a national ruling began as a much smaller affair in a state that frequently advertises how much bigger everything is there. In Dallas, Texas during the summer of 1969, a woman named Norma McCorvey was pregnant with her third child. She had endured a troubled childhood and young adult life which included her father leaving at a young age, her alcoholic mother beating her, another family member allegedly raping her, and her husband -whom she married at 16 – allegedly abusing her. Her first two children were already adopted out, but she did not want to have to carry and take care of another, so she sought an abortion. Problem was, abortions in Texas at the time were only legal in instances of rape or incest, or when the mother’s life was in danger, so at the advice of some friends, Norma falsely stated she had been raped. Since there was no police report of such a crime though, she was unable to legally procure an abortion. Thus, she set out to obtain an operation at an under-the-table establishment, but that door was also closed after it had been shut down by law enforcement. McCorvey would give birth to and adopt out her child, but not before she had begun working with attorneys Sarah Weddington and Linda Coffee to sue the state to permit abortion. For anonymity, they changed her name to Jane Roe, and the suit was brought up to the Dallas County District Attorney, a man named Henry Wade who was tasked with representing the state of Texas.

About a year after Norma realized she was pregnant for the third time, a panel of North Texas judges declared that the state’s laws were unconstitutional and violated the 9th Amendment’s granted right to privacy. Spurred on by other similar cases around the country at the time, the case reached the US Supreme Court in December 1971, was reargued the following October, and then finally decided on January 22, 1973.

Ironically, McCorvey’s personal views on abortion changed drastically over time and she became a pro-life advocate for the Catholic Church. She died last year at the age of 69.

Ideally an abortion is not the go-to for avoiding having a child. I firmly believe that if you are not actively trying to have a baby then you should use some form of protection during sex. There is an immense variety of different items and medications for men and women that help to prevent pregnancy. Find the best for you and your partner based upon your needs and comfort, and revel in erotic euphoria all the live long day if you desire. Personally, I prefer the classic condom as it has remained simple and effective for centuries, and it fits within my philosophy that penises are like Christmas presents: they’re best when they’re wrapped.

Of course, there are scenarios when an abortion is necessary. In these instances, it is just that women have the right to exercise this option if they so choose. Furthermore, the ruling of Roe v. Wade grants the deserved authority of a woman over her own physical self, so while it may still be a man’s world, at least it is undeniably a woman’s body.

Thanks for reading! As always, feel free to contact me with questions, comments, or suggestions at monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to return here next week for the quarterly State of the Season recap.

You go girls,

Alex

Imma Imma Hustler

Typically, you don’t want to be replaced by an Aardvark. Especially because it moves faster than you do. Not to mention, it changed the game for other fast flyers to follow.

It seems I’ve gotten ahead of myself and have some explaining to do….

First, hello everyone! I hope that you had a Happy Mach 1 Day! For those who are new to this written world of my own creation, I annually celebrate the first supersonic flight made by Chuck Yeager on October 14, 1947 as a day I have christened Mach 1 Day! Today, I am keeping this shockwave going with a bit of intel on the first bomber to break the sound barrier.

The Convair B-58 Hustler was the first supersonic strategic bomber, meaning it was the first airplane built to carry and drop bombs that could also exceed the speed of sound. Yep, there are bombers that go Mach 1. In fact, the Hustler could go beyond Mach 2! The point was to craft a bomber that could traverse a great distance, hit its target, and then outrace any of those pesky enemy fighter jets that were sent up in pursuit. Older bombers were too large and not designed to make haste in such a way. The Hustler could do just as its name implied, it do do do do do do do do do do the hustle on out of the dropzone. This was helped immensely by the delta wing design. Nevertheless, attaining that speed came at the cost of shedding the bulk that allowed for greater cargo capacity. Still, this sucker could pack a punch with a full fist. Five nuclear weapons could be loaded onto the bottom of the aircraft on the outside along pylons built to hold the bombs in place of a more traditional bomb bay.

The three-pilot operated Hustler was in service from 1960-1970, but it was rarely smooth sailing, er, flying. The plane was fast, but janky in flight – that is to say, difficult to keep straight. However, its greatest drawback was the price tag it accrued. Maintenance was high, and after its first year, the Hustler costs the United States government around $3 billion. That’s closer to $60 billion today. Yikes!

Despite all this, the Hustler could hightail up, up, and way in a hurry. It could make an ascent over 230 meters per second. Remember Usain Bolt’s record-breaking run of the 200m dash at the 2009 World Championships? Me either; I had to look it up to see when he set it, but I knew it was him who did it. Anyway, Bolt – the most incredibly appropriate name for any athlete – posted a still standing record run of 19.19 seconds. Now add 30 meters, climb at a steady rate, and do it 19x faster, and then we’re matching the Hustler.

Okay, obviously Usain Bolt is not a machine (or is he?… A discussion for another day), but the point is, the Hustler, extravagant mess that it was, was what it was designed to be: really fucking fast. The reason it was eventually retired from service was because the Soviet Union developed better countermeasures. Once their missile defenses more than stood a chance to take down a Hustler the United States needed a new man. Or in this case, a new African burrowing animal. The next big deal in supersonic bombers was General Dynamics F-111 Aardvark, which revolutionized not only bombers, but aircraft in general with its sweep wings (see picture):

That’s an Aardvark showing off the key feature that help it maintain steadier flight when cruising and when whipping up beyond the speed of sound.

The Aardvark had a much lengthier military run from 1967-1998 in the US, and as recently 2010 in Australia, but the Hustler is still the Usain Bolt of the supersonic bomber world. It set 19 total speed records, and still holds the record for the longest supersonic flight. In 1963, a B-58 nicknamed “Greased Lightning” flew from Tokyo to London (over the Arctic Circle), greater than 8000 miles (almost 13000 km) in 8 hours, 35 minutes, and 20.4 seconds. 8000 miles in eight and a half hours! That is even with an afterburner burning out (well, breaking down, at least) and having to reduce speed for the final hour. Amazing!

Thanks for reading! Let me know if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions by sending them to monotrememadness@gmail.com. Be sure to whiz back here next week for more fun.

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Alex