|Even warfighters must smile|
This photo originally shared on Instagram
This is mine. The Fairchild Republic A-10 Thunderbolt II, more commonly, and lovingly, known as the Warthog.
This tankbusting, tough-as-nails, built-to-a-purpose airframe has famously protected troops in harm's way for over 40 years. And a re-winging program assures it of years of service ahead - because nothing else fulfills its mission remotely as well.
The A-10 Demo Team graced us with its presence at this year's Airshow London, and as ever these insanely brave souls were a treat to watch. The plane they fly isn't some needle-nosed fighter jet. By some standards, it's as ugly-as-sin. It gets dirty. It gets chewed up. It brings its pilots home no matter what they run into in battle. And it gets patched up before being sent out again. Wait: That's not ugly at all. That's the very definition of beauty.
At low level, it's surprisingly maneuverable. It was originally designed to take out Soviet tanks on the European battlefield. The Soviets called it the Devil's Cross. And for good reason, because you wouldn't want one of these things firing 30mm depleted uranium rounds toward you in anger.
Yet the thing I fixated on as its pilot pushed the envelope was what was stuck in the window at the front of the canopy. A large-ish stuffed animal. Which, on zooming in, became a number of stuffed animals. All either tightly jammed in, glued on, or both. Such coolness.
A warrior with a sense of humor. A warrior who understands the careful balance between displaying a machine capable of such utter destruction, and inspiring those who watch with the message of why these machines, and the militaries that fly them, are so necessary for our freedom to begin with.
The lesson? You never really know what you'll see when you look just a little closer. So look closer.
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