Tag Archives: Cannon AFB

So much to challenge in Trump’s message


Whatever rhetorical concoction Donald J. Trump is peddling to those who’ve swilled it has been lost on me.

I’m trying to sort through the myriad reasons I detest the Republicans’ presumptive presidential nominee.

I’ve come up with a clear “winner.” It’s that ball cap he wears that bears the message “Make America Great Again.”

You’ve heard the mantra. The United States of America is a loser. Other countries are beating us up on trade. The people who run our government are incompetent. The nation is no longer great. Foreign leaders laugh at us. Our enemies no longer fear us.

Let’s process that for a moment.

Of all the interest groups that Trump has offended with his insults — Hispanics, African-Americans, women, veterans, disabled people — can there be a larger group than, say, the entire nation of 300-plus million citizens?


Just think about this. What the Republicans’ next presidential nominee is saying is that we no longer are a great nation. Haven’t the president’s foes — chiefly Republicans — chided him because he allegedly believes we aren’t an “exceptional nation”? Now their next nominee for president is saying essentially that that — and more. He’s proclaiming that we no longer are a great nation.

My wife, brother-in-law and I attended an air show this weekend at Cannon Air Force Base in Clovis, N.M. I realize a single public address announcer doesn’t speak for a nation, but the young man trumpeting the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial team kept referring to the Air Force as the world’s world greatest military force … and that it is part of a larger establishment that contributes to our national greatness.

At every level I can imagine, I consider the United States to be a great nation. As a patriot and a loyal American, I consider my country to be the greatest nation on Earth.

Trump’s ball cap says precisely the opposite.

Tell me again: Why isn’t every American offended by the message this guy is peddling?


These guys know how to handle the stick


CANNON AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. — Indulge me for a moment or two.

I’m such a sap.

I’ve traveled to 20-some countries around the world; I’ve visited 47 of the 50 states; I’ve shaken hands with some of the most interesting and famous people of our time; I’ve flown over the top of an erupting volcano; I’ve endured a tailhook landing and a catapult takeoff from an aircraft carrier.

My life has been an adventure.

Still, today I welled up as I saluted the six young pilots who taxied past us as they prepared to take off on a demonstration of aerial acrobatics the likes of which I’d never seen.

My wife, her brother and I went to see the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds today. The event took my breath away as we watched them do what they do with astonishing precision. Cannon AFB had its annual air show today, the highlight of which was the Thunderbirds exhibition.

For nearly an hour they flew past us, making incredibly steep climbs, rolling their aircraft as they zoomed past us at about 600 mph.

Up and down they flew — from every direction and occasionally at once.

I took a couple of thoughts away from this experience today … other than the obvious one about how proud I am of these young aviators and the amazing teams that work with them. As one with a smattering of aviation experience myself — owing to my service in the Army many decades ago — I appreciate and understand the work that the maintenance crews and the assorted ground-based staffers must do to make all this work.

How do these aviators practice to do what they do? I understand fully that these individuals don’t strap themselves into the cockpit of these F-16 Fighting Falcons without first training many thousands of hours. I’m still struck, though, by the idea of practicing for these close-order fly-bys.

How do these pilots maintain such laser focus?  On occasion I wonder about the psychological profile of those who are trained to fly high-performance aircraft. Just maintaining one’s focus in combat conditions would be daunting enough. These pilots all have combat experience, according to the public address announcer. Their focus must be intensified by some staggering multiplier in order to fly these birds with such precision — and so damn close to each other!

The flight line today was full of spectators just like us, marveling at what they saw.

Some hours later, after a 90-minute drive home from Clovis, N.M., my head is still spinning at what we just witnessed.

These young individuals should make us all proud.

Now I’m wondering … how can we get to watch the Navy’s Blue Angels? I understand they’re pretty good, too.