Colin Nagy | October 13, 2021

The Sneak Pass Edition [Resend]

On aviation, diplomacy, and surprise

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LEGO 9,090-piece scale model of the Titanic
LEGO 9,090-piece scale model of the Titanic

A 9,090-piece scale model of the Titanic, which is LEGO's biggest set ever.

We had a little sending snafu this AM. Hopefully, you didn’t get this twice. - Noah (NRB)

Colin here. A friend of mine was recently seeing the Blue Angels for the first time in San Francisco. Hearing her recount this experience brought me back to my childhood in the Bay Area where I saw the Angels yearly during Fleet Week. It wasn’t just the choreographed air show—we also got to go on the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson, and see an array of different ships and planes. All in all, it made for an incredible experience as a kid. I remember distinctly how loud the planes were as they screeched by, and also remember disappearing down a wormhole to learn everything about the F-18 Hornet. 

The Blue Angels were initially formed as a tool of public diplomacy following World War II. According to Navy Online:

The vision to establish a Naval flight exhibition team came in 1946 from Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Chester Nimitz. In addition to boosting Navy morale and demonstrating Naval air superiority, there was a need to gain public and political support during a period of dwindling defense budgets.

A World War II fighter ace, Lieutenant Commander Roy “Butch” Voris, formed the first flight demonstration team with three flight instructors. Within a few short months of forming, they choreographed and performed the inaugural flight demonstration in Grumman F6F-5 Hellcats, painted a deep-sea blue with gold trim, to a delighted hometown crowd at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville...The air show season runs every spring through fall, with stops in approximately 30 locations across the U.S. and Canada; and typically including a stop at USNA during Commissioning Week. 

The live shows today are stunning feats of airborne choreography, with many maneuvers leaving the planes a few feet away from each other. It’s not formation flying: it is stunt piloting at the highest levels, in F/A-18 Superhornets piloted by some of the most talented aviators in the Navy. 

Why is this interesting? 

They have a series of recurring tricks at each show. One of the classics is the sneak pass. Four planes do an interesting maneuver to distract, and another plane, having broken off much earlier, shoots past just under Mach 1 (around 700 miles per hour), from the opposite direction. Here’s what it looks like (ignore the person who slightly spoils the surprise) 

Even though it’s a recurring bit, there’s something magical about the playful showmanship, coupled with the sheer power (and low altitude danger) of the sneak pass. It just doesn’t ever get old. (CJN)

List of the Day:

Noah here. Over at Variance, we’ve been working hard to put together our PLG Index: a list of the top product-led software companies in the world. Each of the software companies on the list is private and has transparent pricing + free/trial signup. In addition to launching publicly, we’re listed on Product Hunt today. So if SaaS is your thing, go check it out and please support us on Product Hunt. Thanks for checking it out. (NRB)

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Built to last. Infrastructure is all around us—but how sustainable are the ways we build the airports, railways, and roads that keep things moving? By one projection, more than $2 trillion of transport infrastructure investments will be needed each year through 2040 to fuel economic development. And given the transport sector’s emissions levels are sizable, and growing, there’s value to making sure new investments are also geared for sustainable outcomes. A new article lays out a road map for transforming how things get done. 


Thanks for reading,

Noah (NRB) & Colin (CJN)

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