Death From Above

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Published on the Doomstead Diner on December 10, 2017

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On a strictly Tourista Level, the Highlight of my Great Tombstone Adventure down to Seattle was the excursion K-Dog and I took to the Boeing Museum of Flight, which is a HUGE facility just loaded wih cool historical aircraft of various kinds.  Airplanes are not small things, particularly the modern jets and bombers, so this place takes up acres of space.  Given my limited ability to walk even a few feet without sitting down to rest, touring this museum without the assistance of an EV powered Cripple Cart was out of the question.

Unlike Walmart or Safeway which kindly provide Cripple Carts for the crippled and overweight shoppers,  Boeing does NOT provide these marvelous devices for the touristas who come and pay $23 a pop for the opportunity to view up close and personal these behemoths of the air, possibly the greatest monument to the Age of Oil that exists.  There is no single symbol more impressive than the Jets and the Rockets produced over the last half of the Industrial Age than these machines.  Even the older ones from the first half made of wood and fabric are pretty impressive, given the technology of the day.  I fortunately rented my own Cripple Cart for the week down in Seattle, and had it to tour around the museum.

As a person who both reviles what the techno-civilization and profligate burning of fossil fuels has done to the planet but ALSO admires the technological prowess of the age, visiting this museum brings up conflicting emotions and a lot of cognitive dissonance as I propelled my Cripple Cart around from plane to plane and read many of the displays which chronicled the History of Flight.

I rode on many of these jets, from the typical Boeing 707 to the great behemoth itself, the 747.  I rode the 747 back in the 1970s, when the upstairs was still a lounge for First Class passengers and not just extra seats.  Production has ceased for the 747 as a passenger aircraft, and going forward here only a few will still be produced for hauling heavy freight.  Those 4 big engines produce a LOT of thrust, that's why the 747 was able to piggy back the Space Shuttle to move it around after it glided back down to earth without power.

You don't generally need all that thrust just to move meat packages around taking vacation trips to St. John or Hawaii, it's not very fuel efficient.  747s were cool transport back in the 70s when the fuel came cheap, but in today's market they are money losers.  They're only really good on the most travelled routes like say NY-London, but you always have to make sure they are packed solid so you have to overbook the plane for that.  The more passengers, the more overbooking is necessary.  Flying more smaller more fuel efficient planes is more profitable, or really less of a money loser since nothing in that industry ever really makes a profit.

The same problem killed the Concorde and the SST, the Supersonic Passenger aircraft that were supposed to revolutionize air travel by cutting flight times down to like 3 hours NY-London.  Terrible fuel efficiency here, and besides that the cabin is so small it's like flying coach on a regional jet.  7 hours in First Class in a big fat comfortable seat with free booze is WAY better than 3 hours in a Concorde, so rich fucks didn't pony up for this expensive flight more than once for status.  The only reason a few travellers flew on this White Elephant for a few years was for the status.  Nobody REALLY needed to make it over to London in 3 hours.

Besides that problem for the Concorde was the SONIC BOOM problem.  They couldn't fly the plane at supersonic speeds over any land routes that maybe there were some rich fucks who wanted to buy some status on such a flight, like say NY-LA.  Noise pollution complaints came from everyone underneath the plane all along the route.  This aviation boondoggle lasted a few years and disappeared, but there are rumours Elon Musk is trying to bring something similar back, firing Rockets up on ballistic trajectories to hop rich fucks around the world at top speed!  More money being flushed down the toilet here. Other aspects of the Flight Museum were quite interesting, I did enjoy seeing the type of aircraft that Amelia Earhardt tried to circumnavigate with, that was a very cool looking plane.  I also found the display of the development of Alaska Aviation and the mail routes that funded that to be quite interesting.  To this day, Alaska remains totally dependent on flight to hold the state together as a political unit and to move resources the population needs around the state.  Because it is so mountainous, there is hardly any road system for Alaska beyond the main highways that connect the Kenai Peninsula up though Anchorage then on to Fairbanks.  There are however numerous native villages sprinkled around the state, mainly along the coast as fishing was their historical source of food.  Barges supply these places with the diesel they use to run their generators, since besides not having roads to get there they are not connected to the grid in any way.  To get milk and other fresh produce in there, it's all done by plane at exorbitant prices.  For all the foks who make their living by working 2 weeks on/2weeks off up on the North Slope drilling for Oil, they commute there via plane as well. Individuals who want to have one of those Remote Cabins on a lake off the road system have their own planes, usually single engine float planes they can land on their private and secluded lake.  Obviously, to be in this bracket to own a private plane, even a small single engine Cessna takes a lot of money.  Doctors, Dentists, Lawyers, CPAs and other criminal racketeers are the ones who buy these properties and the planes to get to them.  Getting the materials into these places to build the cabin can be quite the challenge, even if you cut the logs for it where you build it.  This is usually done with Snow Machines in the winter, which travel over the snow and frozen lakes much faster than you can travel in a 4-wheeler during summer.  The rest of the year if you DON'T have a float plane, you are basically stuck at your cabin and you better have enough supplies laid in until the first snowfall, unless you want to spend a full day just getting to the closest store on the road system, which probably doesn't stock much besides Spam in a Can and Potato Chips.  If you want any kind of real choice of foods, you're going to need a car parked in their lot and then drive from there to a population center like Fairbanks or the Mat-Su Valley.  With a float plane, you can do all this a lot faster just flying into Anchorage, shopping and flying back.  This does use a fair amount of gas of course. The Museum of Flight isn't JUST about planes though, a huge aspect of it is Rocketry as well.  The development of Rockets is covered from the Nazi V-2 program run by Werner Von Braun that bombed London, all the way through the Space Race with the Ruskies, the Apollo Program, the Space Shuttle and on into the projected future of Mining Asteroids too!  Somewhat surprisingly, there is not a Larger-than-Life Statue of Elon Musk at the center of the Space Pavillion.  Somehow, the general population actually BELIEVES this guy will build colonies on Mars inside 20 years, when we haven't been able to even get a single Homo Sap there and back in the last 50 years since we supposedly dropped a Man on the Moon.  Elon is a bigger GENIUS than all the scientists and engineers that worked for NASA for the last 50 years?  It's just preposterous poppycock, but I give Elon credit for selling it well to Wall Street.  He burns through $BILLIONS$ in debt faster than I can burn through a $5K limit on my Master Card, and they keep shovelling more debt money at him every day!

As interesting as all this stuff is, what you really gather from walking around or cruising your Cripple Cart around the Boeing Museum of Flight is what has REALLY driven the development of flight over the last few centuries, beginning really with lighter than air balloons in the 1700s was not freight delivery or passenger planes for travelling about willy-nilly, but WARFARE. By far the preponderance of planes and the most spectacular ones are all war planes of one sort or another.  The ability to go great distances at high speed in relative safety, then drop the Death From Above  on the enemy behind the front line of the battle was a HUGE advantage for anyone who had this power, and it was recognized from the minute that Orville & Wilbur Wright got the first engine powered heavier than air craft off the ground at Kitty Hawk. Until the planes were developed, balloons mainly served for doing reconaissance to ascertain the position of the enemy, they weren't attack aircraft.  Even the early wood and fabric planes of WWI were not really ground attack planes, they didn't have enough payload capacity to carry much in the way of bombs.  With a machine gun mounted on the front firing bullets perfectly timed to miss the spinning propeller, they could do Strafing Runs on ground combatants, but really those were more defensive weapons to shoot down the planes of the enemy when they ran into each other above the battle itself.  WWI Pilots became famous for being "Aces" not for all the people they killed on the ground, but rather for the few other pilots of these flimsy planes that were also in the neighborhood trying to do recon they managed to shoot down.  Mannfred Von Richtoffen (The "Red Baron") tops the list here with 80 Kills, which is pretty impressive considering he had to pull them off one at a time and not lose ONCE!

However, compared to the number of people one pilot can kill today dropping one blockbuste MOAB down in the middle of a Syrian suburb, it's chump change.  This bombing ability really only took off in the 1930s during the Spanish Civil War, with the shift in planes from wood & fabric to aluminum & steel, with MUCH more powerful engines, albeit still prop engines at this point.  The Picasso masterpiece Guernica commemorates the carpet bombing of that town, one of the first to be razed by Death From Above in the 20th Century.  Many others followed of course in WWII, from the fire bombing of Dresden until finally the annihiliation of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by Fat Man and Little Boy, the first 2 Nuclear Bombs ever dropped on earth.  Still the only two, but for how much longer that will remain true is an open question.




The airplane industry has never been profitable on its own, it always has been the recipient of huge subsidies from Da Goobermint coming from the Pentagon to build new and better airborne killing machines.  The consumer level commercial aircraft emerged in the aftermath of WWII much in the way the automobile industry did, creating an economy to justify building all the factories and burning all the oil necessary for producing more and better war machines. WWII really never ended.  It became a perpetual air war to gain hegemony over the entire world, and essentially make the "One World Order" possible.  The FSoA had the Jump Start on this with manufacturers like Boeing, McDonnell-Douglas and Lockheed, but the Ruskies could read the writing on the wall and knew if they didn't keep up in Air Power, they would end up under the thumb of the Western Illuminati, who controlled the High Ground of the Air.  They developed their own aerospace industry in under a decade after WWII, an amazing feat.

Thus began the Space Race, which was really less about exploring space than it was about perfecting jet and rocket engines to use down here on earth to power the warplanes and jack spy sattelites into low earth orbit.  Back to the Recon aspect of the development of flight there.

The One World Order never became possible in the end, because the "secret of flight" couldn't be contained, and competing factions of Illuminati in Mother Russia and now China as well have developed aircraft as good or better than those produced by Boeing and the rest of the aerospace industry here in the FSoA.  All these factions are at pains never to go up directly against each other, only rain down the Death From Above on the countries that can't fight back this way.  If/When the majors ever go up directly against each other, you will have a lot of very expensive hardware coming down out of the sky as flaming meteors in very short order. Moving into the future, the ability to produce and to power these machines will be vastly reduced, until it finally disappears completely.  Of course, the Military will be the last to see their Jet Fuel rationed, the commercial jets flying to St. John & Hawaii will be grounded long before them.  With the end of air travel will come the end of the Tourist Industry which grew up around it.  For many small island nations around the world, the Tourist industry is all they GOT for bringing in FOREX.  Just about none of them is self-sufficient anymore for food, so these places are going to see a very rapid depopulation.  I won't say Dieoff at this point, since at the beginning they will mostly become Refugees and head for…somewhere else.

The end of projecting military power through the air will end the type of world Goobermint we have known since the end of WWII.  Global conflicts over resources will become local conflicts over resources.  The planes will disappear from the airspace, irreperable, irreplaceable and without fuel to propel them.  Gas powered land transport will continue a while longer, but that too will disappear as the road & bridge infrastructure they use decays and the roads become impassable for wheeled vehicles.  There will NOT be a massive Orwellian State running your life at this point.  There will more likely be a few local Warlords duking it out for hegemony over a few square miles of farmland that still has some decent water falling on it.

The timeline from now until then is open to question, it depends on too many variables.  Could be 5 years, could be 50 though I doubt the latter.  The trajectory though is very clear.  What goes up must come down, and we are on the way back down now regardless of the Snake Oil being sold by Elon Muskrat.

In the end, the invention of aviation and flight was among the most destructive aspects of the Age of Oil, perhaps even more destructive than the Automobile.  It made war "clean" and "invisible" to anyone who was not on the wrong end of a bomb being dropped in their neighborhood.  "Surgical Strikes" became a part of the Newzspeak, conveying the idea to the public that bombing could be done as cleanly as a surgeon wielding a knife, with no "Collateral Damage", another euphemism for DEAD CIVILIANS.  The number of dead people is always manipulated and the Newz coming out of a war zone always carefully filtered.  You never know REALLY what is going on out there.

At the same time of course, just about all these machines, even the primitive early ones and the biggest most destructive modern ones are a testament to human ingenuity, and they are quite beautiful in their own way.  The lifestyle they provided a small percentage of the population on earth for the last 50 years also was quite pleasant.  If you were one of those people (as I was and still am) who could afford to fly around even just coach on a commercial jet to go to far flung places for holidays, this totally revolutionized living.  You can live in Alaska and zip down to Washington for Thanksgiving Dinner with friends.  You can bring along frozen Alaskan King Crab with you to share with them for dinner.  Without the airplane, none of that will be possible anymore.

That day is coming soon to an airport near you.

K-Dog casts a spell from the Boeing Control Tower

9 Responses to Death From Above

  • Karl Brantz says:


    One of your best! 


  • Bobtail says:

    I'll 2nd that, and add a couple of points…

    Theres a bigger passenger plane than the 747 now, model number I forget, with 10 seats in each row. It might not be bigger dimensions of overall length and wingspan but definitely has a fatter fuselage.  In any case it doesn't have the same aesthetic elegance, smooth takeoff and touchdown or feeling of stability as the 747. 


    I think the latest move by the con-mander in chief ensures that if one flashpoint such as north korea kicks off, the middle east and probably eastern europe will as well. Even if the US does not want that, as soon as they start shipping troops from their 700 or so bases worldwide to the frontline elsewhere, control of that country or security of that country is soon lost, including the homeland.


    I also wonder about our ability to churn out great numbers of replacement aircraft again, when most manufacturing has been transferred to an enemy. 

    • RE says:

      Shipping troops around will be mighty difficult, since troop ship carriers are sitting ducks.  Cruise missiles send them to the bottom of Davey Jones Locker in a heartbeat.


  • AJ says:

    Great post RE.

    As we rapidly approach the Senaca cliff I often wonder what will be left of us in deep time. Since this planet is still quite active geologically I doubt much will remain in a few million years. I actually think we hit our technological peak with the rovers still scurrying around Mars. They may last,as silent sentinals untill the sun expands and engulfs all of the inner solar system. I don't take credit for that insight, I think James Hansen had something similar in his book "Storms of my Grandchildren". Thanks again.

    • RE says:

      Voyager made it out of the solar system, so it may drift through interstallar space until the Universe either expands and cools to absolute zero or contracts and explodes again in another Big Bang.


  • Joe Bloggs says:

    I think warfare/military competition was the main driver not just for advances in aviation but for advances in nearly all technologies. Even the internet was started by DARPA

  • Tim Groves says:

    RE, I really enjoyed this post. You've made me feel nostalgic for the good old days of Concorde and the first 747s. 

    I didn't know that your ability to walk around unaided was so restricted. But it's nice that you used your initiative and carted yourself everywhere you wanted to go.

    • RE says:

      For me, making it from my desk chair to the throne about 20' away is like running a marathon.  I also can't stand up from sitting without handholds.  Fortunately I have a cripple-ready bathroom in my digs.

      I am however the Evil Knievel/Mario Andretti of Cripple Carts! Here's my Harley:

      Unfortunately, I have to retire the 2-wheeler, it's become too difficult for me to lift my feet onto the platform as I start rolling.  I am going to have to switch over to a Trike or 4-Wheeler.  Currently looking at models for my new Wheelz.  Here's one leading contender:

      I did have my first CRASH in Seattle, I got distracted while looking for Seltzer and took my eyes off the "road" and crashed into a display of cheap wine, knocking off two of them and making a real big mess.  Otherwise however, I am a master at maneuvering these things around.


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