Hundreds of faces whip to the left and then smoothly glide back to the right, following with their eyes the silent object. One eye looking through the viewfinder, fingers focusing the glass, hoping to keep the object sharp, pre-focusing on the area where the object should be in a few seconds, according to all known rules. Eye continues to look for a few seconds, but instead of the object, it hears a painfully loud sound. Camera drops down, its force bringing down the neck, as the hands and elbows try to protect the ears. Seeing hundreds of faces looking to the left again, eyes turn and notice the object about two kilometres away, already facing in the opposite direction. It is amazingly fast. Terrifyingly low. It is far ahead of its sonic trail.
The object turns and all eyes follow it to the right. Dark blues and deathly grays in the air. The object is far away again and the ears are alright this time, just about to relax. And then the bombs start to explode. Waves flowing through the ground, passing into the body, beats thumping through the chest, stronger and more intense than the heart has ever felt before.
Two more planes fly overhead. Over the loudspeaker the commentator is talking about weapons used in Vietnam. The planes dump fuel, their trails are burning and leave a few hundred metres of fire and smoke behind them.
Mind goes through a shock, tears swell up behind the eyes, but do not break out. Crowd is silent as the words fill the air:
We are one, but we are many
And from all the lands on Earth we come
We share a dream and sing with one voice
I am, you are, we are Australian.
Mind wondering if their minds also made the connection. Do they see broken limbs and hear thousands of cries? Do they see a place without oxygen? Do they see places where we do not live anymore?
What I thought would be a show of formation stunts performed by teams of airplanes, leaving colourful trails in the air, perhaps some skydiving acrobats forming circles or flowers up in the skies along with some more serious technology discussions and expos, turned out to be a display of weapons.
Returning to our car, we feel the same. There is sadness. We create these wonderful machines, the peak of engineering and ingenuity, but then put them to one main purpose: the job of shooting down other planes or dropping bombs.
The show is over. This common dream isn’t mine.
(Written by me at Avalon, Melbourne, Australia during the last few hours of the Australian International Airshow in February 2003. In January 2004, I was reading through my old journals and when I came across this entry, I was inspired to create this piece. I took the original airshow photos during the Avalon air show in February 2003. This image was created in January and February 2004 and is a combination of photo manipulation and digital painting.)