Though it retains its unofficial crown as the world’s most dominant fighter aircraft, the Raptor has finally fallen victim to “friendly fire” from congressional budget hawks and Pentagon bean-counters. The Obama administration administered the final coups de grace.
Critics have long complained of the plane’s high cost (around $140 million per plane), and many have argued there is no clear mission for the Raptor now that the Cold War is over. And it is abundantly clear there is little or no role for the Raptor in the battle against terrorism. It was not used over Iraq or Afghanistan.
The Raptor’s defenders, on the other hand, note that communist China has an expansionist mindset and is building a huge military. They also remind that both China and Russia have now designed planes that look exactly like the Raptor. Whether they can fly as fast or as stealthily remains to be seen. At any rate, with China’s deep pockets and burgeoning industrial might, there’s little question that country will soon develop a fighter comparable to the F-22, it if hasn’t already.
“It was the most exciting thing, as exciting as having a baby,” Blackwell remembered to AT this week.
A huge headline atop the front page of the next day’s MDJ trumpeted, “WE WIN!” The entire front page, and most of the newspaper’s first section, were devoted to coverage of the announcement.
The F-22’s maiden flight took place Sept. 7, 1997, a Sunday morning, over Marietta with test pilot Paul Metz at the controls.
Blackwell remains an ardent defender of the plane he helped birth.
“The F-22 does not have just a ‘Cold War mission,’” he argues. “Yes, it can knock enemy fighters out of the skies, but it also is designed to knock out enemy Surface-to-Air Missiles” and thereby make the skies safe for other U.S. aircraft.
Lockheed originally expected to eventually build more than 1,400 Raptors, but the Navy pulled out of the project not long after the contract was awarded. That unexpected development inadvertently set a standard of continually downscaled production for the program. And the company has been unable to rely on overseas sales to make up the difference. Unlike many other Lockheed Martin products, most notably the C-130 Hercules, which is flown by dozens of other countries, sales of the Raptor to other countries are prohibited for national security reasons.
Though the two YF-22 prototypes were assembled in Palmdale, Cal, in the 1980s, all of the test jets, pre-production Raptors and production aircraft were built in Marietta.
A PAIR OF AUTHORS of new books on local history will hold a joint signing from 2-4 p.m. this afternoon at the Marietta Wine Market.
Doug Frey is author of “Marietta, The Gem City of Georgia — A Celebration of its Homes, A Portrait of its People,” which was published by the Cobb Landmarks and Historical Society and highlights the history of 50 Marietta houses with photography by Jim DiVitale.
Tthe MDJ’s Joe Kirby is author of “The Lockheed Plant,”which book traces Lockheed’s 60 years operating the facility and includes many rare photos.
The Wine Market is at 18 Powder Springs St. in downtown Marietta next to Marietta Pizza Co.
Speaking of Frey’s book, it just won second place in the book category of the American Design Awards in San Diego, reports the book’s designer, Michael Liedel of Steem Creative in Marietta.
LEGENDARY Marietta schools educator Neil C. Bond is celebrating his 80th birthday on Sunday and about 50 of his former students will celebrate from 4-6 p.m. that day at The Marietta Educational Garden Center. The public is invited.
Bond began teaching in Marietta at the Waterman Street School in 1966 under then-principal Reid D. Brown. He made a brief stop at Keith School, teaching 8th grade English, before landing at Marietta High in 1969 where he taught English, Government, and was faculty advisor for the school yearbook, “The Olympian,” for 18 years.
“Neil is credited with inspiring some of Marietta’s best and brightest, and his students are never at a loss for a ‘Neil C’ story,” says Mary Ansley Southerland, who is helping organize the celebration. “He organized countless dances and social events and was a beloved mentor to us all.”
Bond became the unofficial historian for the high school in the 1980s.
“Recognizing the deep traditions and strong family loyalty to Marietta High School, he made it a personal quest to obtain at least one copy of every Olympian dating back to the original edition put together by student editor Sugar Suhr in 1917, and to archive MHS memorabilia. He encouraged students to keep a scrapbook, recognizing the importance of preserving the high school experience, and he enlisted help from the community in collecting notable items for a history room at the school,” said Southerland.
Patsy Spinks DuPre, Ansley Little Meaders and Beverly Lewis McAfee, MHS alums with children attending MHS at the time, were instrumental in helping the history room become reality, Southerland said. Many of the items he collected are now housed in the Marietta City Schools History Museum maintained by the Marietta Schools Foundation.
Those on the party’s host committee include Dawn Dunaway McEachern and James and Mrs. Southerland, along with Nancy Maloney Mangiante, Johnny Sinclair, Spain Brumby Gregory, Melissa Williams Gilbert, Kim Gresh, Haley Hunter Meaders, Condace Pressley, Kelly King Hastings, Salleigh Grubbs, Anna King Norris, Butch Thompson, Jr., Jill Crowe Mutimer, Johnny Walker, Kelie Bullard Crowe, Randy and Kelley Morrison Weiner, Russ King, Greg Poole, Ken and Martha Kirby Farrar, Dan McCall, Rose Wing, Carolyn Silliman Hardwick, Tommy Foster, Gina Ann Carlton Riggs, Jennifer Clabby Etheridge, Allen and Laura Lea Wofford McKinney.
A fund has been set up in Bond’s honor with the Marietta Schools Foundation. Contributions can be made at mariettaschoolsfoundation.com or by mailing a check to the Foundation Office, P. O. Box 1265, Marietta, GA 30061. It will be used for teacher scholarships and to support future publication of The Olympian.
Lembeck has managed the system calmly and cheerfully since taking the reins in 2005 and has had model relations with her board, teachers and the public. She has tackled the challenging economic and other demographics of the system head on and worked successfully to pull up test scores and decrease the dropout rate. And unlike many of her counterparts in public education, she’s not prone to offering up excuse after excuse when things don’t go well.
She and her husband, Harry, are also active in the community and especially in the local arts scene.
In short, the GSSA’s award could not have been bestowed on a more deserving super. And we’re glad she’s ours!