Captain Schork's IntruderMonday, February 20, 2006
It was about 10 years ago that my writer friend Sean Rossiter and I drove to the Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Washington State. We figured that an air show at a military base would be a tad more authentic than our Abbotsford Air Show. We also figured that pilots flying for fellow pilots would do more daring maneuvers. We weren't exactly right. This was a military base and safety seemed to be paramount. But the American "junk" food was specially good. Sean and I got to see two of our favourite military airplanes. One of them was the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom. Writer Bill Sweetman wrote of the Phantom, "Malevolence expressed in aluminum." I am a peaceful kind of guy but I have always been a fan of war movies and a military airplane buff. I have some internal guilt on this. But guilt goes out of the window when I can see my favourite airplane of all and this is the Grumman A-6 Intruder. An airplane that can hug the ground and evade trees at night, in any weather, while carrying a bomb load second only to Boeing's B-52, is a very special plane. Sean and I talked to pilots who told us that that A-6 was being phased out for the F/A-18 Hornet. They told us that they were going to miss the thrill of flying the Intruders and that in their opinion the Hornet was not a better plane for the job. I was able to photograph the base commander, Captain USN Schork next to one of his beloved Intruders. It was a cloudy day and the light was much like perhaps on a carrier. Captain Schork looked into my lens and when I pressed the shutter I wondered if a man who showed such equanimity was capable of letting loose the destructive power at hand.