Well, my heart beat a bit faster when I saw this headline on an email:
MEDIA ADVISORY – LOCKHEED MARTIN TO DEMONSTRATE F-35 LIGHTNING II CAPABILITIES AT THE CAROLINAS AVIATION MUSEUM; REPORTERS INVITED TO ‘FLY’ THE F-35
… even though I saw the quote marks around “FLY.”
Sure enough, the release says:
Still. I bet that’s a pretty awesome simulator. Way better than my old copy of Microsoft Combat Flight Simulator that I can’t even get to run on Windows 7.
I have to smile, though, at the come-on, given that there will never come a time, in the history of this planet, when anyone would be insane enough to let a reporter — even one who had once been a jet pilot — actually fly an F-35.
If they did, that would be one quick, albeit creative, way of making a $168 million smoking hole in the ground.
I base that on Wikipedia’s estimate of the per-unit cost of the airplane over the life of the program — which it calls “the most expensive defense program ever.” Which is really saying something.
I don’t know about you, but as my Wichita colleague Dennis Boone used to say of such sums, that’s more than I make in a year.
Actually, given modern electronics, it probably would be possible to put a reporter in one of these and fly it remote-control — that is, if you spring a few more million for the “remote-control package.” It’s at least theoretically possible.
But still… there’s always the chance that the reporter could bump something with his elbow while Tweeting or something and then, BOOM!
Of course, they might let Burl fly it — or at least sit in it. Have y’all seen the profile picture he uses on Facebook?
And now that he’s got that awesome job as curator of an aviation museum — on historic Ford Island, no less — he could probably hook that up.
Some years ago, Chuck Yeager was in town, pitching a Northrop airframe called the F-20 (a follow-on to the F-5E that got harpooned by GD’s F-16) and he insisted that I sit in the cockpit and play with the switches. The start cart was plugged in, so we had power. I got the radar to working and immediately acquired a “target.” What the hell, says I. We’re sitting motionless on the ground. Chuck peered off at the horizon. Aw, that’s a truck going across the ramp, he said. Purty good radar!
I used to fly a lot, as I had my altitude and egress ratings for several modern aircraft. I just showed my card and I could fly rearseat with about any service. They liked me because I simply don’t get airsick easily and I never threw up in their cockpits, no matter what.
But then some Gannett editor in Iowa whined about the noisy activities of the IANG A-7s and they invited him up for a gee-whiz flight and naturally there was a mid-air and the editor had to punch out. Gannett immediately banned all military flights for their employees. Hey, I argued, the editor is alive BECAUSE he had an ejection seat and a parachute and civilian planes have neither!
October 1, 2012, I was in aviation heaven. I was at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum, Udvar-Hazy Center. I convinced my wife that since we were this close to DC that it would be a shame to not go see Space Shuttle Discovery. Besides Discovery, To be inches from a Space Shuttle…
I also took pictures of the Joint Task Force Strike Fighter, SR-71 (Blackbird), the Enola Gay, and a Concorde.
I shot nearly 3 rolls of film.