Jets freaking me out

Over the last 3 days, there have been a number of military jets flying overhead here in San Francisco, the Blue Angels are in town. Every time they fly by, I tense up. Each time, I am viscerally reminded of a pair of military jets that flew over my house when I was 10 years old.

The Cold War was in full swing. This was the period that movies like Red Dawn came out of. I was standing in my back yard on a slightly overcast day. I heard a noise, looked up and got a flash of 2 jet fighters flying maybe 500 feet above me. In that instant my eyes were actually focused on them, I could easily make out that they had various releasable objects on their bellies. They were gone in a split second. A thunderous whooshing sound followed that lasted a long while. The sound faded slowly. As it faded, I looked around and saw that my neighbor, Mr. Cosmai was on his upstairs deck looking at the jets too. I jokingly called over, “Ha, here comes World War III!”. But the second I said it, a sense of real dread came over me. I could feel the blood drain from my face. We called to each other a few times. I could hear the fear creep into his voice too. We told each other that we’d go inside our houses and check the TV for any news. I remember going in and changing channels, dreading the thought that I might hear that usually annoying Emergency Broadcast System beep or see some government newscaster telling us to duck and cover. I had it in my head that the regular newscasters wouldn’t give such news, it would be some neutral-looking, creme-colored jacketed newscaster sitting at a near empty desk with a blank gray wall for a background. And I knew full well that ducking and covering would be useless in the face of multiple megaton hydrogen bombs, stratospheric EMP nukes and fallout that would last 100,000 years. I swallowed my heart several times as I clicked through the channels.

Needless to say, our forces weren’t mobilizing. After a few minutes, I went out and met up with Mr. Cosmai; he couldn’t find any news on his TV either. There was no cause for alarm.

Here in San Francisco, another jet just rattled the windows of my house. I can feel myself tighten all over.


  1. Free says:

    I did that, too, for years. In fact, I only stopped doing it after watching an air show with stealth bombers. They would go right overhead even before I heard any sound. “After that, I figured that by the time I heard bombers, it would be too late anyway–a thought that was oddly comforting.

  2. Brian says:

    Hunh. I had the pleasure of being allowed to stand a walking guard post north of D.C. in the winter, at night. I always wondered if I’d be able to see the reentry heat of the warheads as they came in over the pole.

    Odd fancies get ahold of you late at night. I was standing on what might have been a target. If they were on target I’d never know. A near miss would really ruin my whole day. What would I think if I looked up and hey – dozens of dull red glares in the pre-dawn night. Look – the end of the world!

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