One of the aircraft you see when you enter the Udvar-Hazy National Air and Space Museum is the Vought F4U Corsair – an iconic warplane that just looks badass.
It's Just A Fantasy
I grew up at an age when kids worshipped WWII vets, yet didn't seem to know how to relate to the modern military in Viet Nam. We were fed an endless stream of WWII movies on television. Almost every adult leader in my Boy Scout troop was a WWII or Korean war vet. They were common men who went through an uncommon experience.
By day, they worked as plumbers or engineers. When we met in the evenings or went camping on the weekends, they regaled us with stories that had more to do with adventure, and thankfully less about the realities of war. Combine that with a TV schlock show like Blacksheep Squadron and we thought that 1940's technology was the coolest thing ever.
Now keep that in mind as you look at the Vought F4U Corsair. A kid today would likely say that it looks like a flying sewer pipe with bent wings, comparing it to modern jets. For me, it was a seemingly approachable fantasy to fly it.
Think about it. No complicated computers or flight controls. You have a big-ass engine controlled by a stick and rudder. Even if the reality of flight is somewhat more difficult, the imaginary flights of this plane were simple to understand.
Watching it fly was even more compelling. There was a graceful nature to the way it would roll over and dive on its prey.
The Vought F4U Corsair
One former Corsair pilot told me that he and his buddies loved this plane. It was fast and it could climb. That was the key to staying alive. Get above your enemy and you can dictate the fight.
Maybe part of the reason I appreciate this plane so much is because I appreciated those men so much. They were so cool, so the things they used to stay alive had to be just as cool.