Tag Archives: aviation

F-35 Lightning II: A History of the Most Expensive Military Program Ever

While I was looking at the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center, I must confess to mixed feelings. ¬†On the one hand, the F-35 is an aesthetically wonderful aircraft–one cannot help but admire its long sleek lines and its graceful stealthy curves–and it represents some of the most advanced technology in the world. As a matter of history, it may also represent the last major manned military fighter ever to be designed. On the other hand, the F-35 has the dubious honor of being the most expensive military project ever undertaken by humans, and can only be viewed as a seemingly bottomless money pit.

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The F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, on display at the Smithsonian’s Udvar-Hazy Center. This is the Marines short-takeoff vertical-landing “B” version.

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The First Passenger Airliner: The Benoist XIV and the St Pete-Tampa Airboat Line

In a glass-walled hall in the tiny St Petersburg FL Museum of History, a replica of a smallish “flying boat” biplane hangs from the ceiling. It is little-noticed by the tourists who walk past on their way to the beaches and high-end shops and bistros in downtown St Pete, but the Benoist XIV seaplane (pronounced “ben-wah”) made aviation history when it flew on January 1, 1914–it was the first regularly-scheduled commercial passenger airplane flight in the world.

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