Sunday, July 27, 2008

Favorite Airplane

As with colors and numbers, everybody has to have a favorite airplane. At least in the world I live in. To fight aging, my favorite aircraft has to be active. Nothing sreams old timer like a guy that claims the Fokker Dr.1 as their favorite...

Since September 2006, my last favorite aircraft has been retired. It is about time that I pick another.

But I digress. Lets look back into the relatively short history of Mikes favorite aircraft.

My first love was the Sopwith Camel. (Old timer!) Why you ask? Because that is what Snoopy flew in his many battles with the Red Baron. He didn't really fly one, it was his dog house, and he was a cartoon character.... But that didn't matter! If Joe Cool flew the Sopwith Camel, the Sopwith Camel was my favorite airplane. That would be my favorite airplane until I discovered libraries, the original internet.

When in elementary school we'd have library day every Friday or something. The memory is hazy. What I do remember, is that I would often migrate towards the books on planes, trains, and automobiles. One airplane caught my attention and lit my imagination on fire... The Convair B-58 Hustler.

Look at that thing. It screams bad ass! How could a young impressionable transportation geek NOT fall in love with it. As far as I knew, that thing could fly around the moon and back... In a second.

Sadly, they stopped flying before I was even born. (Our library was a bit out of date)

As I got older (6th grade) I determined that I needed an active aircraft to be my favorite. It came on slowly at first, but but it was cemented in the summer of 1986. Here is a video of the very moment I knew.

The F-14 Freakin' Tomcat! YEAH!!

Sidebar... I actually cried tears of joy watching that. No joke there is water in my eyes right now. I have seen that countless times and every time I get goosebumps and tear up. Often I will clap like a little girl. The intro to this movie actually make Kenny Loggins cool! Never has there been a better opening to a movie EVER!

This baby was big, beautiful, fast, and packed a punch. The swing wings put it over the top. For twenty years this airplane had my love, and it will never be forgotten. But as I mentioned above, it was retired in 2006. Iran still has active F-14s but I don't count them.

It is now time to claim a new favorite. I have narrowed my list down to five currently flying aircraft. The B-1B, F-15, F-16, F-18E/F, and the F-22.

The B-1B is impressive (all these are impressive), and with the swing wings hints of the F-14. Unfortunately as a bomber it just can't match the fighters when being tossed around.

The F-16 for a long time was my second favorite. I love its shape. It's downfall is the single engine. Blame the F-14, but twin exhausts out the back are much cooler. Even on cars.

The next three have my favorite things on a fighter in common. Twin tails and twin engines.

The F-15 is one loud, powerful, brutal beast. Seeing that thing takeoff, stay low then go straight up at the end of the runway is amazing. It's high speed flyby at the airshow was deafening. The age of them hurts its chances.

The F-18E/F comes in a close second.

It's demonstration at the McChord Air Expo last weekend was more impressive than the F-15s. It seemed very agile, they were tossing it around more. The fact that it takes off and lands on a carrier helps a bunch.

As of today, my favorite aircraft is the F-22 Raptor.

It has a ton going in it's favor. The newness, the power, the looks... No swing wing, but the thrust vectoring is really cool. I jut need to see it fly. They had two on static display at McChord but that just doesn't cut it. Standing still the F-15 looks much more menacing bristling with hardpoints. Since the F-22 keeps all that stuff internally it looks too pretty to be mean.

Nothing here is set in stone yet. For example, if the F-14 was to be re-activated (no chance), I would kick the F-22 to the curb in a heartbeat. No contest. Also, I have heard rumors of a 'new' Top Gun movie. That both horrifies me and excites me at the same time. 'IF' done correctly, it could put whatever airplane it features (the F-18E/F??) over the top.


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