In honor of the United States Air Force’s upcoming 75th anniversary, and the promised arrival of a special flyover at Super Bowl LVI, we thought we’d have a little fun.
Barely old enough for Active Federal Service, the F-35 saunters onto the scene with more tech than he knows how to use, like a trust-fund teenager who got a brand new Mercedes S-Class to go along with his learner’s permit. One time during a game of bar trivia, his friends were dismayed that he didn’t know the answer to one of the questions was “the Red Baron.” When he first showed up to work, he was instructed to remain hidden but that was a detail he decided to ignore entirely. After all, there’s no fun in being a stealth aircraft if you can’t brag about it in a Starbucks.
You’ll find this legend hunched over a double Jack, neat, with three-day stubble, eyes looking into another time. He’s been in the game for decades. Pragmatic, salty, with far too many deployments under his belt, he’s an old dog and everyone knows it. The old titanium bathtub has been promised a break since Gulf War I, but he’s insanely good at his job, and the troops love him, which is why he keeps getting asked to do shit. Sometimes he thinks about hanging up his chocks, but then he suffers a nasty wave of existential dread because he wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he ever did. What would a workhorse be without the yoke?
The F-16 is an all-around great guy, which is especially unfair. You know how when you meet a super hot person, and you hope they’re a total asshole because when people are insanely attractive and they have a great personality, they’re just being greedy? Yeah. That’s the Falcon. The Falcon will bring you DayQuil and Gatorade when you’re sick and include a handwritten note in the bag, just as quickly as he’ll drop a thousand-pounder on the HVT of your choice.
This old fella’s been around the block, and he knows it. Everyone knows he didn’t exactly change the tide of the air war over Europe, but he loves to claim it was all him. He can’t figure out the need for all the shiny gizmos in the new aircraft, but load him up with a few Old Milwaukees and he’ll start prattling on about how he invented the bubble canopy—which may be true, but doesn’t make it any less insufferable to hear it for the 17th time. He is not on speaking terms with the F-86 Sabre because the ol’ Mustang still can’t forgive him for stealing his thunder in Korea. He considers drone warfare to be neither war, nor fair.
Brought in to beat MiGs who then never showed up to the party, the Raptor is a dogfighter whose career flamed out before he could ever make it to the big leagues. Nevertheless, he vehemently believes he’s got the coolest name in the history of combat aviation, and will puff up his chest at anyone who claims “Phantom” is better. When he’s feeling snarky—which is often—he likes to accuse the F-35 of “stealing his whole vibe.” Never mind that he too is guilty of costing his close friends too much money, could stand to lose a few pounds himself, and was never good enough for a long term relationship anyway. He loves to force his way into the conversation with the fact that he spent a lot of time at Area 51, and he swears he once had a beer with the SR-71.
Happy 75th anniversary to the United States Air Force.