You know, it’s rare that I fail to be amused over people’s tendency to draw the craziest conclusions from flimsy evidence.
I refer, of course, to the recent fun and games which took place in Colorado, where the US Air Force are striving to recover debris of the A-10 aircraft which disappeared on April 2nd while flying on a routine training mission in Arizona.
For eighteen days before debris was spotted, buried in deep snow on a mountainside, all sorts of crazy speculation was rampant on the internet concerning the apparent fate of the A-10 and it’s pilot, Capt. Craig Button.
Many people were quick to connect the Timothy McVeigh trial to the A-10 issue, and wondered if perhaps Button had stolen the plane, planning to attack as part of a ‘militia’ offensive, due to the forthcoming Oklahoma bombing/Waco anniversaries. I had to admit, it was all very fitting…especially when one gives consideration the specifications of the missing aircraft;
The A-10 was developed as a low level,subsonic, heavily armoured, robust, tactical ground attack plane with possibly the best terrain-profiling avionics around. It needs only 4,000 feet of straight road to land, is only 53ft long, and has removable wings for ground transportation. On its nose is a multi-barrelled 30mm cannon, and the rounds are tipped with reclaimed plutonium.
On 17th April, the plot thickened when the USAF increased security on the North American Aerospace Defence Command in Colorado Springs (NORAD), although they maintain the alert did not relate to the missing A-10. The theorists foo-fawed this. ‘The USAF must be worried. There’s something we are not being told’, said Those Who Know Better.
The satires appeared. Jon Katz, of the Netizen, staged a wonderful rant about what really happened to the A-10 in ‘The The Truth Is Out There’ on 23rd of April. Jon also makes a wry reference to the Fortean Times UnConvention taking place in London on the 19th-20th April. I was there, saw no A-10. Mind you, a certain UFOlogist would take that as a sure sign of abduction, but more about him in a future article. Anyway, Jon describes how the A-10 was picked up by a saucer full of greys, Scully and Mulder appear to sort it all out, and the whole things ends up in a surrealist vivisection farce.
When reports started flooding in about the finding of wreckage, many were sceptical. A colleague jocularly mailed me, “Call me paranoid, but I’m still betting they ‘dropped’ a previously wrecked plane on that mountain.” Other folk reckoned that the ‘they’ that might have placed wreckage there could be either the Government, or a ‘militia’. How a militia who might have just stolen an A-10 would have the capability to drop wreckage good enough to fool the USAF 11,500ft up a mountain is completely beyond me, and the idea that the Government would bother to pretend that they had found it when the ‘stolen’ A-10 might spring from its hiding place at any time isn’t too plausible either.
Body of evidence
On CNN’s message board, the speculation covered oxygen depletion, suicide for insurance money, Air Force cover ups…
On April 28th, reports came in that a body found on the mountain was indeed Button, identified after DNA tests.
The latest rumour that’s cross the Blather path is that Capt. Craig Button committed suicide over a gay love affair. Apparently he hit the wrong mountain, as there is a peak nearby called ‘Mount Craig’.
So, the plot thickened, then became watery, and now has evaporated completely. Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably the persona of wild speculation incarnate, but I do have to wonder when instead of blindly believing everything the Governments of the world tell us, we disbelieve everything they tell us, showing preference for the most extreme conclusions…
Dave (daev) Walsh
12 May 1997
Small factual correction: it’s depleated uranium shells not “reclaimed plutonium.” And that’s only the armor piercing ones — the others are high explosive for, um, “softer” targets…
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