Fleet Week 2017 and Miramar Air Show 2017

I went to Fleet Week Los Angeles on Labor Day weekend, and the air show at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar (San Diego) on 09-24-2017. They were fun! I love events like this: lots of noisy military hardware, lots of good hamburgers and other food, and the kind of shameless American nationalism that gives liberals conniption fits. Oh yes, one more thing: wear a hat and lots of sunblock!

I forgot to get online reservations for Fleet Week earlier in the year, so I was lucky to get a tour of USS Anchorage, described by the U.S. Navy as an “amphibious transport dock.” Put simply, that means that the USS Anchorage and her sisters can beach themselves and then offload Marines and their vehicles and weapons.

USS Anchorage appeared to be a well-run ship. Now the Navy needs to find out why there have been a lot of collisions recently. It appears that there has been some tampering with the Global Positioning System.

I also had the chance to put on some of the body armor used by the U.S. Marines. That stuff is heavy. I’m a hiker and fairly fit, but usually all I carry is a day pack with water, a sandwich, and some protein bars. To carry weapons, ammunition, radios, food, water, etc., while wearing that heavy armor, in hot weather or high altitude, under enemy fire – well, my hat is off to soldiers and Marines who do this every day. The next step is the powered, self-contained armor suits described in Robert Heinlein’s military classic Starship Troopers, but we’re not there yet. (Do yourself a favor: read the book, don’t watch the movie.)

MCAS Miramar was lots of fun too. The Marines demonstrated a combined air-ground attack using F/A-18 Hornets, AV-8B Harrier jump jets, AH-1 SuperCobra attack helicopters, M1 Abrams tanks, V-22 Osprey troop transports, and Huey troop transports. The Osprey had a troubled history. The tilt-rotor design is innovative in that it gives the vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) capability of a helicopter with the speed of a regular aircraft; the initial trouble seems to have been in transitioning from vertical to horizontal flight.

Lots of walking around, so I inhaled a half-pound hamburger for lunch. Thanks to the Marines for providing water bowsers so that I could keep my water bottle topped off. VMFA-314, the “Black Knights” Marine Corps F/A-18 squadron was there; this squadron was featured in the movie Independence Day, which was also shamelessly nationalistic.

You don’t have to agree with every military action undertaken by the United States (I don’t) to enjoy Fleet Week and air shows. Just go to see vintage and modern war machines in action. Go for the food, the noise, the sights, the shameless nationalism, and the excitement. Go have fun!

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