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How Duck Poop Changed the History of Modern Aviation Warfare
How Duck Poop Changed the History of Modern Aviation Warfare
I am not a military tech enthusiast, per se, nor am I much of an aviation fan beyond the occasional air show and a tendency to go, “Ohhh, that’s F-ing cool,” when I see a fighter or a stealth bomber flying by. However, I have to say that I have discovered a secret regarding the development of modern air combat techniques that I thought I would share with my regular readers, given my love of knowledge and how it makes me feel to share the wealth of my understanding about the world. So, that said, on to the tale.
So there I am, driving off to the very existence Emerson tried to warn me about, my sleepy eyes still sleepy and the morning sun just low enough to make my truck’s sun visor ineffective still, and the morning deejays spewing stupidity on the radio.
I live in the country, so my drive takes me between yellowing fields, pasture land mainly, with lots of cattle, a few sheep, and more than the occasional vernal pool in which wade terns, great white egrets, and even a mallard duck or two, assuming the newly begun summer hasn’t shallowed the waters to the point their webbed feed drag the bottom when they swim.
Well, apparently that seems to have been the case for the ducks in question today, for, as I drove by one particular pool, I suddenly found myself face to face—face to posterior if truth be told—with a pair of mallards recently departed from an A.M. swim. So recently in fact that their takeoff had them ascending over the road and right in front of my 6,000 pound Chevy truck.
The sun was bright and low.
At first, I saw them appear out of the sun’s glare like a pair of Japanese zeros, silhouettes emerging from the light like shadows darting from blinding nothingness, but then, realizing the superiority of my modern machine, or perhaps not intending combat at all, they turned tail and attempted to escape.
Now, I am not one who finds amusement in the killing of my fellow creatures. I truly don’t. And while I used to hunt as a kid growing up on a ranch, now I no longer hunt at all. I’ve lost my taste for it completely. I haven’t lost my taste for the meat, mind you, only my taste for the killing—and this holds just as true whether I’m killing with a truck or killing with a gun. So, when said Mallards swooped into range of my windshield, I let off the gas, unwilling to lock up my brakes for safety reasons, but slowing down trying to give them space to accelerate and make good their ascent.
Unfortunately, my rate of speed was perhaps a few miles per hour faster than they expected, or maybe they were slowed by full bellies, a bit bloated from a fine breakfast of pond scum and water bugs (or whatever they eat), and so it was that, despite flapping for all they could, I was still gaining on them.
Of course all of this took place in the span of a second or two, but for me, and I’m certain for the pair of them, time seemed to slow down considerably, making all of us acutely aware of every micro-moment of this near debacle. And so it was that I watched them fly, one of them slightly behind the other in a little two-duck V, a one-legged formation I admit, flapping their little duck wings just as furiously as they could. Had I thought to, I’m sure I could have looked and seen their little duck sphincters working like fowl jet engines, puckering with fear and blowing for even a millimeter of additional altitude.
But, alas, air was the last thing they were blowing, and it was from the rear of those retreating ducks that I discovered the source of a mainstay in modern aerial combat techniques.
Who is not familiar with the concept of “countermeasures” in aerial combat between modern jets or helicopters? I doubt there is anyone that has not heard of them. The release of flairs or other heat mechanisms meant to draw off enemy fire, to pull away a missile that is literally hot on the pilot’s tail, is common knowledge. But who amongst you knew from whence that tactic came? The origin of the idea?
Well, there was I in my arguably tidy truck, hot on these ducks’ tails, and so it was they released their counter measures on me, intent, I’m certain, on throwing me off the chase
No respect for the fact I was slowing down was shown, no gratitude for the fact I had let go the accelerator out of genuine concern for their continued health and welfare. No, none of that at all. Just a great spray of goopy white countermeasures all over my windshield and hood. A smattering of gooey poop as if a paint can had sneezed all over my poor truck. My wipers only smeared the windshield worse, and, driving nearly directly into the sun, I was briefly and completely blind.
“Jesus!” I cried as the ducks began to pull away. They flew off, up into the light and disappeared even before my washer spray finished a shoddy job. Perhaps they were laughing together about the mess as they rose into the sky. Or perhaps laughing in that nervous way one gets when venting the energy of a near miss or a narrow get away. But they were safe. And alive.
Leaving me with the remnant disaster of all this duck shit on my hood—not to mention the little seed-like deposits on the windshield that the wipers and washer fluid just couldn’t rinse away. What the hell is that anyway? Do I even want to know? So here I did those ducks a favor by slowing down, spared their lives and afforded them a chance for another pond scum and water bug meal. And for my efforts? A chore when I get home.
But at least now I know where the Air Force got that countermeasures idea.
And so do you.
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