August 26, 2013

War planes over Tofino

We have seen the contrails for years. Indeed, probably since the sixties when America's enemy was the Soviet Union. B-52s, or some variation, continue to fly up and down the coast of North America, sometimes veering off to fly along the Canadian - American border. The flights are impressively visible from Tofino.

B-52s began flying for the United States Air Force in 1955. They fly high and at relatively fast speeds. They are designed for war and carry an impressive array of avionics and armaments, including nuclear bombs. They have been upgraded and rebooted for a modern age, and with scheduled refurbishment this year and next, are expected to fly another thirty years.

During the American War in Vietnam, they were used for the infamous carpet bombing raids which destroyed huge swaths of country and city alike. During one mission in 1972, often called the Christmas Bombings, they flew 10 to 12 hour missions for twelve horrifying days. After a brief rest they started again after the New Year. Three million people were killed by the American forces during the ten years of their war.

And just what are these flights about today? Protecting America? Keeping the enemy at bay? Some sort of deterrent? Reconnaissance? What exactly are they looking for, fishing boats? It costs about $70,000 per hour to fly these war planes. That isn't the most expensive aircraft in America's arsenal, but it is an impressive sum.

Over 20 per cent of children in the US live in poverty, and that number is from official statistics. Can the US afford to have these weapons of mass destruction flying up and down our coast line every day? And with all our paranoia about pipelines and trains carrying "dangerous" cargo, what happens if one of these monsters crashes into a Canadian river, a fishing village or a city?

Photos copyright 2013 by Jim Murray.

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