John McCain: Fighter Ace -- destroyed five US planes
[Welcome, Michael Tomaskey readers!]
For months now the claims that John Sidney McCain III would be more of the same as the Bush administration have been beaten like the drums of war.
A McCain administration might not be the same as another Bush term, though -- it might be worse, especially if their respective flying records are anything to go by.
Don't misunderstand. This is not to disrespect McCain or denigrate his service. It's to suggest, strongly, that in light of what a younger and arguably less (flight-related) accident-prone Republican President has achieved in the past two terms, accepting McCain as just like Bush might seriously understate
the potential consequences to the nation. Bush's loss of his combat-readiness credential has been documented here and elsewhere in the past. But John McCain crashed five US Navy planes, and that's on the record. Moreover, he was involved in, if not instrumental to, the worst accident ever onboard a US Navy aircraft carrier -- the USS Forrestal fire.
Bush, George W. (aka George Bush Junior.) Texas Air National Guard Lt. and F-102 pilot. Son of a serving Congressman and Navy fighter pilot, G. H. W. Bush, former director of the CIA; grandson of financier Prescott Bush. Something happened to his ability to fly. He flunked -- or skipped, if not both -- a flight physical. He's famous for answering challenges that he actually crashed a TxANG Delta Dagger -- maybe while Flying Under the Influence, maybe not -- by saying, "Where's the plane?"
McCain, John. Grandson of a US Navy admiral. Son of a US Navy admiral. Fighter pilot aboard the Forrestal -- in one of the A-4 Skyhawk aircraft destroyed in the fire -- one of, if not the, first aircraft affected when a Phantom loosed a rocket on the deck (hat tip to DKos poster Timpanogus). Forty-one years ago, the Navy yanked McCain out of a burning plane -- and off the carrier where it caught fire. He was transferred immediately. The plane was recorded as a crash, credited to McCain. His fifth and final crash resulted from being shot down over Vietnam. One of McCain's wrecks is on the bottom of Corpus Christi Bay; one's in Iberia; one was jettisoned over the side of the Forrestal during that god-awful inferno that killed 134 sailors that same day, destroyed more than 20 combat aircraft, and sent the ship into drydock so long she never went back to Southeast Asia air operations.
Let me say this quickly. Being an airplane pilot is a skill set that, me among them, millions of Americans dearly wanted as we grew up in the years before jet planes were as elegant as buses and flying fighters wasn't any more exciting than an hour on your Wii. McCain's first crash happened so long ago, I hadn't been conceived yet -- and I'm almost 50. He wiped out into Corpus Christi Bay in 1958. His last -- and most famous -- crash came in October 1967, over Viet Nam.
Do we dare not stop this man from becoming President?
Do we dare not vote to prevent a worse pilot than W from sitting in the White House?