Performing Flight: From the Barnstormers to Space Tourism 0472074539, 9780472074532

Performing Flight sheds new light on moments in the history of US aviation and spaceflight through the lens of performan

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Performing Flight: From the Barnstormers to Space Tourism
 0472074539, 9780472074532

Table of contents :
Introduction: Lines of Flight
1 “Making Uncle Tom’s Cabin into a Hangar”: Bessie Coleman, Barnstorming Aviatrix
2 Hiroshima, the Enola Gay, and the Performance of the Atomic Age
3 The Pilot Voice: Communities of Practice and the Chuck Yeager Meme
4 Inventing the American Astronaut
5 The Space Tourist: A New New Teory of the Leisure Class
6 9/11, Flight, and Performance
Conclusion: “The Face of God”

Citation preview

Performing Flight


Scott Magelssen

University of Michigan Press Ann Arbor

Copyright © 2020 by Scott Magelssen All rights reserved For questions or permissions, please contact [email protected] Published in the United States of America by the University of Michigan Press Manufactured in the United States of America Printed on acid-free paper First published July 2020 A CIP catalog record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 978-0-472-07453-2 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-472-05453-4 (paper : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-472-12685-9 (ebook)

For Teresa, Trygg, and Ari

Contents Acknowledgments Introduction: Lines of Flight Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter

“Making Uncle Tom’s Cabin into a Hangar”: Bessie Coleman, Barnstorming Aviatrix Hiroshima, the Enola Gay, and the Performance of the Atomic Age

ix 1 17 5

Te Pilot Voice: Communities of Practice and the Chuck Yeager Meme


Chapter 4

Inventing the American Astronaut


Chapter 5

Te Space Tourist: A New New Teory of the Leisure Class


Chapter 6

9/11, Flight, and Performance


Conclusion “Te Face of God”




Bibliogr aphy




Digital materials related to this title can be found on the Fulcrum platform via the following citable URL

Acknowledgments Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth, And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings. . . . —“High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., 1941

Performing Flight has benefted from a tremendous number of individuals and institutions, for whom I am immensely grateful. It is impossible to name everyone who has supported or added to the book, but here are a few I would like to especially acknowledge. Tis project was recognized and supported by the 2017 Research Award from the American Society for Teatre Research, which allowed me to go up in a zero-gravity parabolic fight and fnish the chapter on space tourism. I am also incredibly grateful to Bob Stacey, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences; Catherine Cole, divisional dean of arts; Lynn Tomas, interim executive director of the School of Drama; and Todd London, immediate past executive director, for supporting my work. Te College awarded me a Donald E. Petersen Endowed Fellowship, which funded my research in New York City, and the School of Drama awarded me a generous publication subvention. Tanks to Kathleen Woodward and Rachel Arteaga and to the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, which funded a profoundly helpful writing retreat for my research group at the Helen Riabof Whiteley Center. Tanks to Tim Williams and Talaat Captain of Air Hollywood for my Pan Am Experience. Tanks to Robert B. Shimko and James Rosengren, who hosted me at the University of Houston for my work on astronauts as part of the Blafer Art Museum Innovation Series in spring 2017. Tanks to Michelle Liu Carriger, Suk-Young Kim, Sean Metzger, Sarah Lewis Cappellari, Guillermo Aviles Rodriguez, and all the graduate students at UCLA’s Department of Teatre who generously hosted my visit and talk in fall 2019. I humbly owe a debt of gratitude to the amazing and indomitable Great Grandma Irene. Countless folks assisted me and were generous with their time and my


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weird questions. In particular, I want to thank Seth Margolis, Dan Hagedorn, Melanie Kwong, Jenn Parent, and John Little at the Museum of Flight in Seattle; Mara Abiera at Zero-G; Kate Igoe at the National Air and Space Museum Archives; Adam Bruckner and Erika Harnett at the University of Washington; Captain Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper; Frank K. Naahielua and Susan Yoshikawa; Dottie Metcalf Lindenburger; Gigi Coleman, grandniece of Bessie Coleman; and especially, all my pilot interviewees. My writing profted from some amazing people who devoted time to it and gave sage advice for improvement: Sara Brady and Lindsey Mantoan; Sarah Bay-Cheng; the Performance Studies Research Group at University of Washington (Adair Rounthwaite, Amanda Doxtater, Olivia Gunn, Stefka Mihaylova, Ellwood Wiggins, Emily Zimmerman, Jasmine Mahmoud); the ASTR Teatre and War working group; and my fellow panelists in our “Dreaming of the End” session at ATHE in 2014, Jill Stevenson and John Fletcher. Tank you to those who have engaged me in conversation, helped me fgure out ideas and moves that I couldn’t have come up with on my own, or pretended you didn’t think I was crazy: the students in my 2016 popular performance graduate seminar (Guillaume Tourniaire, Alice Hofgren, Matt Straus, Robert Wighs, Monica Cortes Viharo); Angenette Spalink; Spencer Golub; Amy Cook; Estella Gillette; Jennifer A. Kokai; Shelby Lunderman; Samer Al-Saber; Ariaga Mucek; Emma Broback; Steve Broback; Simon Tran; Elizabeth Schifer; Emma Halliday; Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix; Jenna L. Kubly; Jay Ball; Beth Osborne; Catherine Schuler; David Jortner; Margaret Lebron; Deanna Toten Beard; Rebecca Worley; Maria Inês Marques; Sean Bartley; Noe Montez; Travis Stern; Shannon Walsh; Chris Woodworth; Robert R. Harvey; the Sugar Land, Texas, Scott Magelssen; Alan Sikes; Lisa Arnold; Brian Herrera, Esther Kim Lee; Chandra Hopkins; Denisse Guererro-Harvey; Mike Danforth and Ian Chillag; Sarah Nash Gates; Jim and Sharon Magelssen; and my friends and colleagues in the American Society for Teatre Research, the Association for Teatre in Higher Education, and the Mid-America Teatre Conference. Tank you to Michal Kobialka, whose mentorship is enduring. As much as I imagine I have discursively, if not physically, “slipped the surly bonds of earth,” your voice in my head brings me back with the reminder that it is impossible to think that which is not already within one’s language of intelligibility.

___________________________________________________ Acknowledgments


Tank you to my family, Teresa, Trygg, and Ari, for putting up with me when I write books. You are saints and I am a very lucky man. Enormous thanks to my editor, LeAnn Fields, for championing my work. I am immeasurably honored by, and fortunate and grateful for the experience of having worked with you now on three book projects. My deepest gratitude to the team at University of Michigan Press, especially Anna Pohlod, Marcia LaBrenz, and Daniel Otis. A portion of this manuscript appeared in an earlier form in the essay “Performing Flight: Test Pilots, Passenger Planes, and the Cold War,” appearing in Performance in a Militarized Culture, edited by Sara Brady and Lindsey Mantoan (London: Routledge, 2017). Seattle, 2019

Introduction Line s of fLight

Te airplanes smell of hot oil and simmering aluminum, disinfectant, feces, leather, and puke . . . the stewardesses, short-tempered and reeking of vomit, come forward as often as they can for what is a breath of comparatively fresh air. —Former “Tin Goose” Pilot Ernest K. Gann

Te earliest accounts of modern commercial air travel are harrowing. Te frst passenger fights during the Jazz Age were both uncomfortable and precarious, as travelers had to endure constant jostling, deafening noise, and frequent airsickness. Yet from the travelers’ point of view, the experience was sublime, the closest to heaven any of them had ever been. Faster and higher than any earthbound mode of transportation, humanpowered fight was full of possibility, and fomented a new mode of being in the modern age. Gazing out the window on her frst plane fight, Gertrude Stein compared the midwestern landscape to a cubist painting. Taking in the multiple and simultaneous vistas that airplane fight made possible demanded a way of seeing that had to that point been reserved for painters such as Picasso and Braque, a phenomenon that Sara J. Ford identifed as part of the “performance of modern consciousness.”1 A trip through the sky ofered the frst paying customers an ecstatic, ebullient experience—a promise extended into the twenty-frst century by United Airlines, in an advertising campaign that has enduringly linked Gershwin’s 1924 jazz piano composition “Rhapsody in Blue” with the transcendent pleasures of commercial fight. Tese days, however, the stringencies imposed on passengers by many carriers make commercial air travel seem far from heaven. While the


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Fig. 1. Ford Tri-Motor steward attends to passengers. Smithsonian Institution Collection. Used with permission.

airlines once went out of their way to ensure that travelers were comfortable and well fed, those days are gone. An economy fare today rarely includes the perks of even a few years ago, and sometimes doesn’t even cover a checked item of luggage. A sense of loss from this new austerity may explain the popularity of the Pan Am Experience, an immersive performance ofered regularly in Los Angeles by Air Hollywood, which calls itself “Te World’s Largest Aviation-Temed Studio.” Pan American World Airways, which launched its commercial passenger operations in the late 1920s with a feet of luxurious “Clipper” airboats, became over the course of its existence between 1927 and 1991 the United States’ largest carrier and synonymous globally with stylish jet-setting lifestyle. Over the course of the twentieth century, Pan Am’s innovations largely shaped the aesthetics and conventions of air travel with which we are familiar today, including the crisp Navy-inspired uniform and cap standard for commercial pilots. Te Pan Am Experience in LA now simulates what some con-

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sider the “golden age” of passenger air travel, by creating the look and feel of a luxurious fight on a Pan American World Airways 747, circa 1977.2 I participated in the Pan Am Experience in the summer of 2018, while working on this book. Te Experience takes place entirely within the confnes of a warehouse, but I soon forgot that as I entered the gleaming prefight gate area–cum–Clipper Club cocktail bar and then the painstakingly reconstructed interior of an airliner cabin complete with period furnishings, window treatments, and safety instructions. Ofered on select Saturday evenings, the event is the creation of Anthony Toth, an air travel enthusiast since he was a child (and now a managing director with a major [extant] airline).3 Toth began ofering simulated Pan Am fights in his own garage before partnering with Talaat Captan, CEO and founder of Air Hollywood, which supplies flm sets and props to the motion picture industry.4 Te three-hour “fight” includes a comfortable, roomy seat; a meal of chateaubriand, hand-sliced in front of you and served on real Pan Am china and utensils; and all the booze you care to drink, served in authentic glassware. But the main attraction, as was immediately apparent the moment they entered the scene that evening, is the stylish and ultra-cool fight crew. My fellow passengers and I immediately looked up from our drinks when this entourage—almost in slow motion—poured into the gate area; the captain, frst ofcer, and fight engineer in their dashing pilot uniforms, followed by a cloud of immaculately styled and coifured stewardesses. Te group appeared carefree and confdent, laughing and tossing bon mots to one another like Greek gods strolling home to a latter-day Mount Olympus.5 Te crew boarded the airplane through the cabin door at the top of the gangway, and, boarding passes in hand, we followed. Crewmembers welcomed us into the lap of luxury, escorting us to our seats as they pointed out the amenities, took our drink orders, and spread tiny linen tablecloths over our seat-back tray tables. And though these stewardesses (in the seventies, “fight attendant” wasn’t yet a term) seemed so much cooler and more attractive than their customers, they doted on each of us, anticipating our every need, refreshing us with steaming hot towels, even “lighting” our fake puf cigarettes after our dessert and a glass of port. After that level of pampering, my fight home from LAX the next morning seemed positively ascetic. Te Pan Am Experience leaves one with the impression that the bygone


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days of luxurious air travel are indeed bygone, an impression that’s intentional, according to Pan Am Experience producer Talaat Captan.6 In an interview, Captan told me that seats for the performances are always full, even though in four years of operating the Pan Am Experience, Air Hollywood has done no paid advertising. Participants are attracted by the nostalgia and glamor that the Experience ofers, and they come back for more: return customers account for 25 percent of the participants, and they bring new people with them each time. Te Experience appeals to a broad range of people, says Captan, from Mad Men fans to aviation geeks to young professionals simply looking for a fun time. But none can fail to notice the striking diference between the Pan Am Experience and air travel today. “It used to be bon voyage!” rues Captan, “now it’s ‘Be safe.’” Preparing to take a commercial fight is not the event it once was, he observes. “We used to dress up for air travel, now we simply dress for necessity.” But one of the changes in air travel Captan fnds most regrettable is the change in hiring practices for fight attendants. Te Pan Am Experience returns participants to an earlier, prefeminist era, placing the dream of young, attractive, all-responsive stewardesses front and center. “In Pan Am in the old days . . . they were beautiful. Now you see grandmothers up there.” He told me about a recent fight he’d been on. Even though he was fying frst class, he found that the fight attendants were not attentive to his needs. By his account, an attendant threw his coat at him, barking that they had ten minutes before landing. For Captan, this was an afront. “Tey only do it for the benefts. Not because they want to travel. And they’re not happy with their jobs. Tey don’t like their customers,” he complained. Captan blames the perceived diminishment of service on the unionization of fight attendants and on federal regulatory changes. “Stewardesses used to turn heads with their glamor. Now it’s ‘Leave me alone!’” Trough careful selection of the actors who comprise the fight crew, Captan says, the Pan Am Experience is able to return the glamor and luxury to the experience of (simulated) air travel. Tey get between 700–800 applicants with each casting call, he says, and bring in 200 to audition. Of those, 20 make the cut. Te fnal decision is made by the purser, an actual former stewardess with Pan Am—with personality being a major factor in deciding which actors are hired, according to Captan.7 While the “golden age of air travel” may have ended when Pan Am shuttered its services in 1991, a closer look suggests that this period of rela-

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tive luxury was not without its problems, especially for the women who provided the emotional and physical labor that maintained the luxury for customers. Te short-lived ABC television drama Pan Am (2011–2012) gave viewers a fctitious behind-the-scenes look at stewardesses often struggling to maintain their hospitable, winsome, professional poise while putting up with the boorishness of unsavory and entitled male passengers (that is, when the stewardesses weren’t having romantic trysts with the attractive male Pan Am pilots. Or, um, doing espionage work for the CIA). Today’s airlines may be more equitable in their hiring practices for fight attendants, but the problems of sexual harassment and even assault have not gone away. Being groped and harassed are so prevalent for fight attendants that it’s “practically considered a job duty,” reports the New York Times,8 and air travel is altogether grimmer in other ways as well. While beginning this book, I heard reports of a paying passenger on a United Airlines fight being bloodied and dragged of the plane by security to make room for airline employees, and as I prepared the fnal manuscript, investigators were asking why Boeing’s 7 7-MAX jet planes full of passengers were nose-diving out of the sky. It is possible to suggest that the routine commercial passenger experience has reached its most abject moment. Yes, it is frustrating that once-standard amenities such as in-fight meals and adequate legroom now come at greater cost. Far worse, however, is the chilling twenty-frst-century knowledge that the airplane one fies in could be weaponized to bring down a skyscraper. Perhaps there has never been a better moment, then, to pause and consider the performance of fight over the last century. Performing Flight explores how aviation and space travel have been fundamentally connected to the images, gestures, narrative tropes, and performative acts that have shaped the enterprise of fight in public perception and consciousness. From the early professional aerial entertainers known as barnstormers, whose name was drawn from the itinerant theater troupes of the nineteenth century, to the emerging industry of space tourism, which now uses performative means to cement its importance as both manifest destiny and an escape route from a failed planet, performance and fight have been inextricably linked in ways that have heretofore been underexamined. Tis book joins an emergent discourse about the history, politics, and economics of air and space, topics traditionally avoided by scholars due to perceptions that this material doesn’t lend itself to legitimate academic


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writing. As David Bell and Martin Parker write in their introduction to Space Travel and Culture: From Apollo to Space Tourism, for instance, academics have treated space travel with a certain “snifness.” In some ways, it’s ripe for easy pickings, an easy target for cynical critiques due to its ties to war, big aerospace, and the “paranoid politics of the cold war” that justifed the military-industrial complex. Te discursive narratives practically write themselves, the authors suggest: “both phallic and imperialist readings are easy enough to construct.”9 On the other hand, academics may have avoided writing about space for fear of being accused of indulging in “a form of adolescent sublimation,” or the failure to grow beyond “boys’ toys” as one becomes a professional adult.10 But such dismissals, write Bell and Parker, avoid deeper questions raised by space travel that fall within our scholarly charge—questions of afect and efect, of its place in the long philosophical history of technology’s relationship with the sublime, and of what it means to witness the kind of alterity in, say, “the Saturn V on a pillar of fre,” which is “enough to displace the observer from common sense, and allow them to see the world diferently.”11 For my own part, I had the same garden-variety childhood fascination with airplanes and spaceships as any kid whose childhood’s bookends were Star Wars (1977) and Top Gun (1986). But I was never a bona fde enthusiast. Growing up in the Cold War era, I was aware of extracurricular activities and organizations such as the Civil Air Patrol in my hometown, but these seemed reserved for classmates with sturdy glasses and black socks, and maybe with a bit of sweat on their budding mustaches. Tese days, as an adult with a six-foot-three frame, I try to avoid being a commercial airline passenger any more than necessary. Nevertheless, several positive experiences with fight helped lead me to this project. For instance, on my elementary-school class feld trip to the airport, I was lucky to be chosen to go up with a pilot in a small propeller plane demonstration (my parents were alarmed when they found out that afternoon. Tis was before things like consent forms.). But it wasn’t until I visited air and space museums with my own children that I started to notice how narratives about fight, progress, science, human ingenuity, and so forth, seemed to be connected to strategic military developments and anxieties about race, gender, sexuality, and religion. I’d long known that performance has been central to the emergence of a space-age aesthetic and sensibility in art and popular culture, but in the exhibit area of the third or fourth museum, I had a kind of scales-falling-from-my-eyes

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moment: I began to realize the important role of performance in legitimizing to American legislators and taxpayers the enormous expenditures involved in the development of space exploration in this country. Te idea for a book took of (ahem) from there. A few words about my intended audience and my selection of case studies may be useful. As with my previous books, Living History Museums and Simming, this book is planted solidly in the “knowledge formation” of performance studies. As a theater historian, I also like to describe my work as focusing on theater with a “lower-case t,” that is, dealing with events, attractions, and performances that, while they employ the tools of theater to make meaning, don’t take place in auditoriums or involve stage scripts by playwrights. For this book, I take fight as my object of inquiry. Tat is to say, Performing Flight treats pilots, airplanes, astronauts, and spaceships as performance, and looks at how these people and things perform. It is, moreover, a study of how these performances have helped groups, specifcally Americans, perform and defne themselves. Performing Flight is not intended, then, to be a book that uses performances of fight to better understand traditional theatrical oferings, for instance, plays and performance art (though it could be used in that way, I imagine). Neither is it, to paraphrase an inquiry from one of my early readers, about how pilots can draw on the work of actors to do their job better. It is about the performance of pilots and astronauts that is unique to their job requirements; actors have their own sets of performance practices unique to their job requirements. While elements within the work of actors and pilots might sometimes overlap, this fact may not help us better understand the craft of either profession. Finally, Performing Flight is not trying to expand the feld of performance studies for its own sake, or as an end in itself, to include areas and knowledges that have previously been neglected (though it can serve in that way, too). It is a thoroughly performance-studies-grounded book about fight and Americans, which takes pilots, airplanes, astronauts, spaceships, and attendant performances as its case studies. And in the process, it examines how these performances can help reveal not only how we’ve shaped our perception of Americanness, but how the language and metaphors we use to understand human achievement, aesthetics, morality, and so forth are based on notions of “up” and “down,” “heavy” and “weightless,” that are decidedly local to the surface of the earth. A book on the broad subject of fight could take any number of direc-


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tions. Why did I choose these case studies and not others? One way I know when I’ve hit on a successful idea for a book is when nearly everyone I talk to, once I’ve explained what it’s about, can think of their own germane and fascinating application. In the development of this project I compiled a fourteen-page list of possible case studies, big and small, that I considered including.12 As with my last book, Simming, however, if I tried to be exhaustive in my choice of case studies, the book would be overwhelming and too long to publish. So early on, I needed to limit my scope and choose examples relevant to the heart of my inquiry. First, when talking about performances of fight, I chose to focus on heavier-than-air, human-piloted fight (not hot-air balloons, dirigibles, or blimps, and not “unmanned” space probes or remote-piloted drones). From there, I chose examples of pilots, airplanes, astronauts, spaceships, and attendant performances that would ft within the study’s disciplinary ground and that fell within three historical periods: (1) early aviation and the frst barnstormers, (2) emergent Cold War performances of pilots and astronauts, and ( ) twenty-frst-century events such as 9/11 and the promise of private space experiences. Performance studies ofers the discursive lenses and tools to unpack the why, how, and to-what-end of these periods, and to illuminate the stakes of each. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s well-known concept “line of fight” (ligne de fuite) provides a useful way to describe my historiographic approach to the relationships between performance and fight in the twentieth and twenty-frst centuries. In their words, lines of fight are “movements of deterritorialization and destratifcation” that run counter to “lines of articulation or segmentarity, strata and territories.”13 To be sure, in the authors’ original usage in A Tousand Plateaus, “line of fight” connotes feeing rather than fying. Furthermore, as Brian Massumi remarks in his notes on his translation of A Tousand Plateaus, fuite could just as easily translate escape as it can fight. “Fuite,” writes Massumi, “covers not only the act of feeing or eluding but also fowing, leaking, and disappearing into the distance (the vanishing point in a painting is a point de fuite). It has no relation to fying.”14 Tere’s not the same slippage between the English words fee and fy in French, where the go-to word for fying—as in aviating—seems to be voler.15 We’ve inherited the English words fy and fight from the Old English fyht, the Dutch vlucht, and the German fucht. To fee and to fy come from

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these origins, as does the verb to fit. It’s curious that in English, Dutch, and German etymology as well as in Latin, feeing and fight share the same root. Te Latin fugere “to fee” is from fuga, fight. It’s where we get both “fugue,” as in a state of loss of awareness or transcendence, and “refuge,” a place we fee to to seek safety. Not to mention fugitive, one who is feeing—and we’re often tempted to compare ourselves to fugitives when we fy, unwashed and unshaven, curled up under a coat in the terminal during a long connection or huddled by a precious electrical outlet with our various device chargers. I fnd myself not wanting to apologize for the slip between feeing and fying into which I’m leaning here. Deleuze himself corrects would-be misinterpreters of the phrase line of fight. In his dialogue with Claire Parnet, Deleuze said “[t]he great and only error lies in thinking that a line of fight consists in feeing from life; the fight into the imaginary, or into art. On the contrary, to fee is to produce the real, to create life, to fnd a weapon.”16 For Deleuze, to fy is to claim agency. Far from giving up out of cowardice, (from the Latin for “tail between one’s legs in doubt of self”), it is the precise opposite: the assertion of value of the self. For the purposes of this book, let’s shift away from tail-based metaphor for fight to that of “taking wing.” I invite the reader to accompany me on these various lines of fight through the time-space of the last twelve decades on the ground, in the air, in low-earth orbit, and beyond. Moreover, I invoke for us the line of fight as a theoretical term by which we can trace the performative actions of the humans and machines in this book. Whether justifed through politics (as in the United States Space Program), corporate dramaturgy (as in commercial air travel and space tourism), or tactical repurposing of skills and equipment from the industry of war (barnstormers, astronauts, and, well, nearly every case study in this book), the careers and performances of the individuals examined here hardly hew to formulaic models of how to succeed in business. In other words, this is not the story of the playing out of a familiar American dramaturgical narrative. Te case studies emerge and develop according to states of afairs and available possibilities unique to their dynamic situations, and connect to one another through sometimes surprising relationships that shrug of attempts to narrate by linear cause-and-efect sequencing or tropes of ingenuity, entrepreneurship, and the American Dream—as much as they take advantage of those tropes to garner posi-


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tive public reception. Tus, lines of fight as a mode of discourse becomes much more accommodating as narrative practice and as a description of the labor and performances of my subjects. Te frst decades of the twentieth century saw what cultural theorist Adnan Morshed terms an “aesthetics of ascension,” an afective desire for a world striated and controlled by charismatic leaders in the sky, the aviator as the New Man who would usher in an age of modernity and utopia, and the gaze from the trajectory of fight as the new organizing vision for the cosmos.17 Such aesthetics motivated artists and thinkers from Roland Barthes to the Italian Aerial Futurists, who distributed their manifestos from airplanes. And the New Man, in the German Expressionist formulation Neue Mensch, spectacularly appeared in the early expressionist dramas of Oskar Kokoschka and Walter Hassenclever as the young man who would use cleansing violence to overthrow the oppressive regime of the corrupt father, only to reemerge later in the twentieth century as Luke Skywalker, who would usher in explosive victory over the Empire with his space-pilot skills. But it might be possible to suggest that a desire and goal for moving further upward might be hardwired in human beings from a precognitive stage of development. Afect theorists can locate infants’ physical movements forward and up as they learn to get around with afective states associated with the emotions of joy and achievement. And theater scholars Rhonda Blair and John Lutterbie cite cognitive philosophers George Lakof and Mark Johnson and cognitive scientists and linguists Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner with the idea that we even derive our linguistic metaphors in everyday speech from spatial associations, with up and forward being good (e.g., progressive), and down and backward being bad (e.g., regressive).18 In other words, a very real afective desire to get to space may be an artifact of our precognitive state, one that is continually reinforced through everyday language. At the same time, what I argue in Performing Flight is that the metaphors we use in language to assign positive and negative values to individual afective and emotional experiences can quickly become unhelpful and even unjust when applied to larger political and social structures. Reaching for the stars, becoming fully fedged, and defying gravity may on the face of it seem to be harmless descriptors of achievement by human individuals or groups, but often, hidden behind these metaphors are entrenched hegemonic systems that are designed and serve to allow

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upward mobility to some kinds of humans more than others. Airspace and beyond, like every other space humans have accessed, has been striated, mapped, regulated, and policed as quickly as it has become available through emergent technologies, and now, as much as in the beginning, legitimate navigation of these spaces is proprietary and limited to those with the most wealth and the highest military clearance. Moreover, as I explore in the last chapters, spatial metaphors of rising and falling, forward and backward, even up and down, are constructions limited to the planet Earth. As human beings invent the technology to get them just a few miles from the surface, these linguistic tools for expression and meaning are revealed to be quite local in their applicability (quick case in point: we think of the International Space Station as being “overhead,” but as often as not, it’s somewhere under our feet). If there is indeed a time in the future when humans regularly live in space, words such as “up” and “down” and the values we ascribe to them may become as folksy and artifcial as “dial tone” and as arcane and unnatural as “cubit” for describing the space around us. In addition to its discursive utility, “lines of fight” may also be used to describe the structure and chapters of Performing Flight. Te case studies herein sometimes fall into a rough chronological order, from the aviation pioneers of the early twentieth century to the burgeoning space-tourism industry before us today. With that chronology comes the temptation to map a template of Hegelian progress onto these stories: with the passage of time, the technology gets more advanced and the pilots and passengers serving as the chapters’ characters reach further into the spaces formerly restricted by physics. But by no means does the linear march through the decades jibe with a story of positivism and progress. Yes, technology was developed, but in the case of the Enola Gay and the earth’s most devastating tool of destruction it ushered in, one needs to use pretty acrobatic (or at least conservative) rhetoric to call this progress. And as I show later in the book, space tourism may promise escape from an earth that is becoming more and more inhospitable, but the very practices of the space industry are contributing to deleterious environmental impacts on our planet and its atmosphere. Chapter 1, “Making Uncle Tom’s Cabin into a Hangar: Bessie Coleman, Barnstorming Aviatrix,” begins to weave the narrative of how air performances were intimately connected with the military-industrial complex emerging at the same time. Te relationship between aerobatic perfor-


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mance and war had several nodes of connection, and one major node was the Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” airplane, mass-produced for training allied airmen during World War I. When wartime ended, hundreds of cheap leftover Jennys were dumped on the market—as were veteran fiers. Pilots began teaming up, and developed repertoires of tricks to tour exhibitionstyle air shows, demonstrating the fying maneuvers they learned for war. Soon more tricks and stunts were added to barnstorming acts of the 1920s. Tis is when so called wing-walking emerged, as did acrobatics such as dangling beneath planes on rope ladders, crashing through breakaway walls and structures, changing planes in midfight, or ascending into moving planes from a speeding automobile, train, or speedboat. Most compelling for this study is how women and people of color could easily enter the barnstorming profession, when their other postwar job options were limited, and how they could subsequently rise quickly in fame and fortune, albeit with dangerous working conditions. Black and Cherokee aviator Bessie Coleman is a key focus of this chapter. Coleman aspired to fy starting in 1922, but no American fying school would train a black woman. An editor of a black Chicago newspaper championed her cause, and with his help, and the money she saved from doing manicures for Chicago businessmen, she took French lessons and went to Europe to train with accomplished instructors in France and Germany. She returned to the States to launch a successful career as a barnstorming fyer. Coleman’s performances were striking to many, but particularly to African American men who yearned to fy but faced similar obstacles fnding schools that would take them. Coleman founded her own fying school in Florida in 1926. She died in a crash—the plane was piloted by her white male assistant—but her legacy continued to serve as a rallying example of upward mobility for African Americans and other underprivileged groups. Chapter 2, “Hiroshima, the Enola Gay, and the Performance of the Atomic Age,” treats the infamous B-29 bomber forever associated with dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, in the last months of World War II. In a 1976 reenactment of the bombing of Hiroshima, reallife Enola Gay pilot Paul W. Tibbets dropped a pretend atomic bomb for an audience of 40,000 cheering Texans in Harlingen. While the air-show reenactment celebrated what for many was a decisive turn in the war in the Pacifc, the simulated bombing drew a protest from Hiroshima’s mayor, Takeshi Araki, and drew questions about the way we remember the 1945 event that killed nearly 80,000 people, poisoned and burned

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60,000 more, and wrought environmental devastation that continues to this day. Te battle over representation of the bombing reached a peak in 1995 when the Smithsonian Institution’s plans for exhibiting the Enola Gay on its fftieth anniversary were infamously scuttled after veteran groups and donors criticized the museum for focusing too much attention on the Japanese victims of the blast. Te Hiroshima bombing initiated a frightening doomsday paradigm of the atomic age. As Susan Sontag wrote in her foundational essay “Te Imagination of Disaster,” it became clear in the middle of the twentieth century “that from now on to the end of human history, every person would spend his individual life not only under the threat of individual death, which is certain, but of something almost insupportable psychologically—collective incineration and extinction which could come any time, virtually without warning.” I interrogate here how spectacle, performance, and exhibition practices wrestle with the notion of nuclear holocaust, becoming themselves battlegrounds for public memory and anxieties about human-made Armageddon. Chapter , “Te Pilot Voice: Communities of Practice and the Chuck Yeager Meme,” concerns the widespread popular perception of the captain’s voice heard over the commercial passenger plane’s public address system. As theater and performance scholars, we are exposed to the repertoire of the fight intercom system upward of two or three times a year, yet relatively little of our discursive attention has been devoted to these performances, which do nothing less than reify the narrative of safe travel by maintaining and policing hundreds of thousands of passengers’ bodies (travel industry payload) through the dangers of aerospace every day. Te stakes were heightened by increases in hijackings starting in the late 1960s, and all the more with the passenger-plane attacks of September 11, 2001. Key to this repertoire of safety is the captain’s voice, which must maintain relaxed confdence even in the face of technological malfunction or severe weather, to instill the same in his (or less frequently, her) passengers. Part of the pilot’s training, the standard folksy afect can be traced to fghter-pilot and sound-barrier pioneer Chuck Yeager, whose drawl was analyzed in Wolfe’s Te Right Stuf and further immortalized by Sam Shepard’s Yeager in the 198 flm adaptation. By feshing out the genealogical and performative roots of the commercial airline captain’s “presentation of self” in key events in Cold War aviation, this chapter in turn draws out the myriad intersections between the conventions of pas-


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senger airline travel, wartime industry and technology, and our role as passenger-spectators in the continuing War on Terror. In chapter 4, “Inventing the American Astronaut,” I trace a line of fight from the Cold War with the Soviet Union to the origins of the United States’s space program. While strategically designed as an ostensibly peaceful civilian enterprise from the start in 1958, NASA had for its frst three decades been a paramilitary operation; it was engaged not only in a gentleman’s race against the Russians to reach the cosmos, but in a very real efort to command space as the next battlefeld. Te American astronaut was key to the success of this efort, in both guaranteeing that the American people were on board and securing the necessary funding from Congress. Te late 1950s and early 1960s saw a deliberate performative efort to create a new kind of individual who had not previously existed except in science fction, and the performance of astronaut, as such, was in fact the end in and of itself. Te labor was propaganda, and the stakes were decidedly high. Sputnik 1, launched by the Soviet Union in October of 1957, and feared as a harbinger of nuclear bombs from space, caused a state of military and political anxiety requiring immediate funding and enormous redirection of military and commercial labor. But the invention of the frst Project Mercury astronauts and their April 1959 introduction, though hurried, was a product of several years of determined dramaturgy. We’ve seen an explosion of late in plans for private spacefight with the corporate aerospace industry boom and the introduction of space planes and reusable booster rockets. Chapter 5, “Te Space Tourist: A New New Teory of the Leisure Class,” considers these developments. Virgin Galactic is preselling hundreds of tickets for suborbital trips, and Amazon founder Jef Bezos’s Blue Origin has likewise announced plans to put customers in space in the next few years. Elon Musk of Tesla boasts that his SpaceX program will send passengers to the Moon and Mars in the coming decade. We are clearly already in the age of space tourists. Regarding this most recent trajectory of performing fight, I am interested in how we are going to perform space now that the audiences, no longer earthbound, can participate, and I try out weightlessness on a zero-gravity fight to see if I can fnd answers. As this chapter demonstrates, however, through considering performances of anti-space tourism, seen in demonstrations by the Indian fsherman and Brazilian villagers negatively afected by the space industry, space is not the inevitable fnal frontier for a species univer-

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sally hardwired to get there. Space, rather, is for the new new leisure class and the industries that cater to it, which stand to devastate the earth’s forests, oceans, and atmosphere, contributing to the global doom from which they claim to be protecting us. Since their frst appearance, fying machines have been linked to the business of war, and it’s not news that every major innovation in the quotidian airplanes we civilians use was frst developed by engineers working for the military to improve prowess in the skies. Filmmaker Stanley Kubrick flmically linked violence and commercial air travel in the opening scenes of 2001: A Space Odyssey half a century ago. Remember the Pan Am shuttle carrying a slumbering Dr. Heywood Floyd sensually waltzing to Te Blue Danube with the rotating space station as it came in to dock? Te luxury space plane had only moments before been conjured by Kubric’s cinematography from the free-falling bone-weapon our primate ancestor used to bludgeon his rival to death in the preceding scene. In the frst few minutes that transpire on the screen, the prehistoric apes become the “us” of the near future, and their primitive tools become spaceships— direct lines of connection between the projected future of air and space travel and the earliest implements for confict and violence. Yet the idea that airplanes could be weaponized as spectacular tools still came as a shock when al-Qaeda operatives brought down skyscrapers with the commercial jet plane attacks of September 11, 2001. Chapter 6 takes on the pilot performances of the 9/11 hijackers. Tis is the object of inquiry that has most daunted me, yet it became clear that I needed to take it up when I decided to write a book about performance and fight. Chapter 6 also treats how the hijackers have been remembered within the larger memorialization and historical narration of the attacks by the September 11 Memorial & Museum in New York, where, despite their signifcance in the events of that morning, they are largely downplayed to make room for a larger story about America’s victory in the War on Terror. I draw the title of my conclusion, “Te Face of God,” from the last line of pilot-poet John Gillespie Magee, Jr.’s, poem “High Flight,” which describes the sublime experience of the aviator in divine terms. “High Flight” accompanied a short Air Force flm (with an F-15 fghter jet conducting aerobatic maneuvers against a backdrop of the heavens), which played every morning on network television as I grew up in the 1980s, immediately following the national anthem that began the broadcast day.


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For kids of my age, in the late Cold War’s most angstful years of doomsday rhetoric, television delivered such performative montages of poetry, patriotism, and the jingoistic sublime as a daily ritual of indoctrination in Americanness. Taking up Heather Nathan’s invitation to compose “fugue histories,” the concluding chapter, originally written in one go the week of September 11, 2018, brings together the book’s lines of fight into a fnal meditation on the stakes of performing aviation, war, and space travel.


“Making Uncle Tom’s Cabin into a Hangar” Be s sie CoLem a n, B a rns torming av i atrix

Coleman was extraordinary—she was an African American woman with an international pilot’s license that allowed her to fy in any part of the world, and she was hailed by airmen and aircraft engineers in France, Germany, Holland and Switzerland “as the greatest aviatrix in the world.” . . . Te Chicago Defender was now her sponsor, and she had established headquarters at their New York ofces on Seventh Avenue as a base for booking her barnstorming exhibitions. —Hadley Freydberg

Tis chapter treats barnstorming performance—that is, aerial tricks performed by pilots in small biplanes at air shows in the frst decades of the twentieth century. Among these pilots, Bessie “Queen Bess” Coleman, celebrated in the epigraph above and treated at length later in the chapter, is a standout example of an aerobatic performer who used her aviation skills to subvert and overcome the hegemonic structures that had marginalized her. Te barnstormers, itinerant stunt and exhibition fiers, inherited their name from touring theater troupes that performed melodramas and other popular fare in barns beginning in the early middle nineteenth century.1 At frst practiced almost solely by air veterans, barnstorming quickly became a venue for representatives of nonnormative and disenfranchised groups—women and people of color included—to exercise visibility, autonomy, and even political agency. Barnstorming pilots used the stages they had available, the skies above farmland, pastures, fairgrounds, and circuses, to perform their particular brand of fight. Drawing on a history of barnstorming performance articulated by Paul O’Neil, Don Dwiggins, K. C. Tessendorf, and others, and using the 17


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discursive template of “lines of fight,” I argue that female and black fiers, excluded from military combat, not to mention (especially for African Americans) many other forms of legitimate professional performance in the frst decades of the twentieth century, could use fying to cut across the traditional structures and pathways of society to create new realities for themselves. In other words, if not “transcending” these structures, they could use the very instruments of these forbidden industries to fy, per Gilles Deleuze: “to produce the real, to create life, to fnd a weapon.” It is not going too far to say that early barnstorming performances were intimately connected with the military-industrial complex emerging at the same time. Indeed, many barnstormers were aviators who had learned to fy in World War I, the frst military confict to incorporate the use of heavier-than-air machine-powered craft into military strategy. Te relationship between aerobatic performance and war had several nodes of connection, and the network those nodes comprise is worth a brief unpacking here. One major node was the Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” airplane, mass produced for training allied airmen during World War I and subsequently serving as by far the most common plane featured in the stunt performances at the barnstorming genre’s outset.2 Before the war, relatively few airplanes were produced in factories. Historian Don Dwiggins writes that from its start in 1909 to the war’s beginning in 1916, U.S. Army Aviation had only built and delivered 142 aircraft. When war broke out, Congress approved $640 million for air expenditures, resulting in a “skyful of airplanes.” By the November 11, 1918, Armistice, U.S. Army Aviation had something like 757 pilots and 740 planes on the front, with another 1,400 combat-ready pilots and 769 airplanes in the zone of advance.3 Te military airplanes in the European air war, however, weren’t Jennys. Te Jennys, writes K. C. Tessendorf, couldn’t compete in speed, altitude, or maneuverability with the British Sopwith Camel or the French Nieuport in dogfghts over France.4 She was “Too nice a girl to fght” and was used instead for training in the U.S., England, France, and Canada. Ninety-fve percent of American pilots polled in the 1920s, in fact, trained in or few a Curtiss JN-4D,5 and 90 percent of World War I pilots in general learned to fy in a Jenny.6 By Armistice Day, 6,000 Jennys had been produced for the U.S. Government (at $5,000 per plane), and 2,000 more for governments abroad, but the Curtiss factories in New York and Toronto cranked out another 2,000 before Washington “got around to turning of the faucet.”7

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Fig. 2. A restored Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” at the Museum of Flight, Seattle. August 2016. Photo by Scott Magelssen.

Te result was thousands and thousands of surplus warplanes. Many could be adapted to civilian use for mail and cargo, but the bulk would be sold at less than a tenth of the original price to veteran airmen, another node of connection, who learned to fy in them for the war and who would otherwise have probably been unable to aford their own planes. At frst, veteran pilots could make a living simply ofering rides to thrill-seeking passengers for fve dollars and up in their Curtiss Jennys. Weekends were best for selling rides, observes Tessendorf, especially between 2:00 and 5:00 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. A takeof, fve-minute circle, and landing cost ffty cents of gasoline, “so at $5.00 a passenger, a reasonably busy Sunday could provide a living in itself, outside of unexpected expenses.”8 It was a free existence, but still, observes O’Neil, a bit hand-to-mouth: the barnstormer was his own pilot, mechanic, and rigger. He slept in felds under his wings at night, flching eggs from henhouses and boiling them in his breakfast cofee. He was as likely to trade rides in his plane for gasoline money as moonshine.9


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With many fyers glutting the market, the novelty of airplane rides wore thin, so pilots began teaming up, developing repertoires of tricks to tour exhibition-style air shows, based on the maneuvers they had learned for war.10 Soon more tricks and stunts were added to the barnstorming acts of the 1920s, such as crashing through break-away walls. Daredevil pilots climbed out of their cockpits midfight and walked out onto the wings of their planes where they performed stunts like dancing and “sharpshooting.” Tey dangled from their crafts on rope ladders. Tey climbed into airplanes from speeding cars, trains, and boats, and hopped from one plane to another above the crowds of spectators. Comic routines were a staple. William “Wild Bill” Kopia was notorious for a drag act in which he’d pretend to be a celebrity opera diva paying for one of the airplane rides ofered as a side attraction to air-show attendees. As the announcer told spectators there was a celebrity about to do a passenger hop in one of the planes on the feld, the plane’s pilot would slip out of his own seat with some manufactured excuse, such as needing to grab something he’d forgotten. Te clumsy diva would then “accidently” hit the throttle and wave her arms helplessly in alarm as the airplane leaped and staggered through the air, storming the grandstand of squealing spectators and so forth, before ascending into the sky to execute a number of aerobatic tricks.11 Clearly, despite the postwar drop in airplane manufacturing, war was good for the popular approval of airplanes in general, and for airplane performance in particular. But it would be too simple to consider the popularity of airplanes as strictly the result of military action. Actually, write Johan Jarlbrink and Andreas Nyblom, wartime fight emerged from and fed back into the popular performance of aviation. Te Pioneer Era (1900– 1914), including the “unsteady beginnings of the motorized airplane as well as its large-scale introduction in warfare,” saw an incredible turnaround in public regard for the airplane, which went from “foolish toy for hazardous adventure” to “favoured symbol of modernity.”12 While much of fying’s success is due to the ingenuity of the engineers and bravery of the pilots, they write, the “feedback loop” of media-supported events and the promotion of aviator as celebrity in turn generated continued positive media regarding fight. Tis played a signifcant role not only in popular opinions of airplanes, but in the opinions of the politicians who would ultimately approve military spending on them,13 contributing to the popular conceptions Adnan Morshed groups together as a twentieth-century

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aesthetics of ascension. I turn next to a selection of aviators who perhaps found themselves in afective concord with an aesthetics of ascension, yet used fight not to reinforce a utopian striated vision of the state, but rather to trace lines of fight across the striation, creating for themselves a new reality as they transcended the one designed for them by others: Bessie Coleman being a remarkable example among them. Tis is also where Deleuze and Guattari’s line of fight, which works so well in the example of, say, a book (which they use to introduce the discursive concept), hits the road with lived racial and gendered reality. Early-twentieth-century barnstormers numbered in the hundreds, perhaps thousands. Most remain nameless. Unregulated by any commission or body, mostly foregoing the kinds of publicity materials that would leave archival traces of their presence, such as the posters of the “fying circuses” emerging at the end of the 1920s, the itinerant pilots practiced their profession of the grid—or rather, the grid did not yet exist. So long as one could get a pilot’s license (sometimes by hook or by crook) and an aircraft, one could in spite of skin color or gender, rise in status and agency faster than in other professions in entertainment or industry or the military. Women and black pilots, for instance, were barred from fying in military operations, and black performers were largely not allowed on stages except for minstrelsy. Here was a performance tradition that combined skills developed by military dogfghters with spectacular performance, and it accommodated performers that the constituent traditions would not. Early pioneer exhibition aviatrices included Matilde Moisant, who took up fying lessons when her exhibition pilot brother John crashed and died in 1910. She was joined by her close friend Harriet Quimby. “After thirtythree lessons adding up to four and a half hours air time,” writes Dwiggins, “Harriet was the frst to solo in August 1, 1911.”14 Matilde caught up twelve days later on August 1 . [Te number thirteen was signifcant to Matilde. She was born on a Friday the 1 th and along with getting her license on the thirteenth day of the month she was prompted to name her Blériot airplane Lucky Tirteen.15] Tese two women were daring in not only fight but in fashion: they were the frst female pilots to wear divided skirts, and then trousers tucked into high lace boots.16 Matilde boldly and notoriously broke blue laws on Mineola, Long Island, by exhibition fying on a Sunday. When police were sent to arrest her, she dusted them with her airplane. Harriet was killed when thrown from a plane in July 1912,


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having fown for not quite a year. Matilde kept on with Lucky Tirteen, but fnally acquiesced to her family’s wishes to retire after several crashes, including one in which she crawled out of a burning wreck that spectators compared to a raging funeral pyre.17 Ruth Bancroft Law, another young pilot, few aerobatics demonstrations for crowds starting in 1912. “Looping the loop” twice in Daytona in 1915 against the wishes of her husband, Law went on to break the record for cross-continental fight airspeed in 1916. She garnered several accolades, including a dinner in her honor attended by President Wilson, though this prestige was hardly enough to win her campaign to allow females to fy military aircraft in World War I. Sisters Katherine and Marjorie Stinson from the Stinson family of fiers of Jackson, Mississippi, saw similar success before war put a hold on their performance careers. Katherine, seventeen years old when she started fying, barnstormed all over the U.S. before continuing on to Japan and China. When war broke out in Germany and the U.S. government banned civilian fight, she and Marge were grounded. Te two settled for training pilots for the Royal Canadian Air Force.18 After the civilian fight restriction was lifted, barnstorming shows resumed, now with all the technological innovations gained by the wartime interest and investment in fying. Several women quickly achieved fame with wing-walking and other extra-vehicular performance activity. Wing-walker Gladys Ingle could climb from the top wing of a Jenny biplane to the bottom wing of a Jenny fying above, without a ladder. Gladys Roy was prevented from topping her famous 1925 pantomimed tennis match with Ivan Unger atop a Jenny biplane wing when she was killed walking into a spinning propeller two years later. Teenager Margie Hobbs, aka “Ethel Dare the Flying Witch,” executed ninety-fve midair plane changes by the end of the 1920s. One of the most successful of these postwar aviatrices was Mabel Cody, niece of William “Bufalo Bill” Cody, who frst made history by transferring from a speeding boat to a plane (on the second try. Te frst attempt was foiled when the plane crashed and the boat caught on fre.19) Cody’s performance was, by all accounts, engineered to appeal both through prowess and sex. In Martin Caidin’s words, she was hell both in skirts and on wings. She seemed to have sprung from nowhere, an enigma blossoming into a heroine; overnight it seemed that

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she had captured the imagination and the heart of every man, woman and child in Alabama. People talked of Mabel Cody with awe in their voices; children adored her, women shook their heads about her, and men went through a variety of emotions calculated to bring them back again and again into the paying stands to see Mabel Cody. . . . She was pert and energetic, endowed with a fgure that would have attracted covetous glances anywhere, and she carried within her a torch of living that almost radiated outward from her presence. . . . Mabel Cody was a woman of spectacular skill [and] steely nerves.20

Cody was a savvy entrepreneur as well, eventually producing her own air show, Mabel Cody’s fying circus, rivaled only by the fying circus of impresario Doug Davis. But Cody’s mechanics and parts suppliers couldn’t keep up with the punishing regimen she put her planes through, and eventually her fying circus folded.21 She then teamed with her erstwhile rival Davis, who was better at long-range planning and plane upkeep. Together they formed the Doug Davis Baby Ruth Flying Circus, famous for dropping payloads of candy bars over crowds of spectators (I will pick up this seemingly innocent thread again in the next chapter).22 Bessie Coleman, the frst woman of color to earn a pilot’s license, went on to become one of the world’s most famous sport aviatrices, defying borders of race and class and inspiring generations of women pilots and pilots of color. “Queen Bess” Coleman may have gone farthest in using fight and the aesthetics of diference to transgress the hegemonic limitations on both performance and aviation in the early twentieth century. Because of her racial background, Coleman could not in the 1920s pursue her dream of fying in the United States; she needed to learn French and travel to Europe to train with accomplished instructors in France and Germany. Afterward, she launched a successful career as a barnstorming fyer in the budding feld of aerobatics. Coleman’s performances at air shows were striking for their famboyant aerobatic routines and deathdefying parachute stunts; they particularly appealed to African American men who yearned to fy but faced similar obstacles fnding schools that would take them. In 1926 Coleman went to Florida to start her own fying school for black pilots, but died in a plane crash later that year. Her legacy, though, continued to serve as a rallying example of upward mobility for pilots of color. What becomes clear on closer examination of Coleman’s career was the


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Fig. . Bessie Coleman and Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny” c.1922. Smithsonian Institution Collection. Used with permission.

extent to which her success can be attributed to more than her fying ability and derring-do. Judging from responses of her contemporaries and her savvy marketing strategies, Coleman was skillful in constructing and deploying narratives that styled her as a black celebrity on par with her contemporaries in jazz music, and as a resource for lifting fellow African Americans out of disenfranchisement and racist disregard. As a light-skinned woman of African American and Native American descent, she could have taken ofers to pass as white for higher-profle gigs,23 but she was resolute in positioning herself as a black aviator in a white profession. In efect, Coleman cross-cast herself in a color-conscious “white” role not to transcend and erase diference, but rather as a deliberate act of racial transgression for political gain in agency. As with the performers whom Brandi Wilkins Catanese treats in her work on casting black actors in non-black roles, Problem of the Color[blind], the goal and upshot of Coleman’s project was not and never could be a color-blindness, but an explicit choice to work against the grain of spectator and employer expectations.24 To wit: people of color, and black women in particular, were capable of a profession thought to be appropriate only for whites. Tey could use Coleman’s pioneering work as a lever—not to lift themselves above the striations of race in America (produced and enforced by entrenched insti-

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tutionalized and de facto segregation and racism), but to pry these layers apart like iron gates to the American Dream. Bessie Coleman was born in Texas in 1892 to cotton sharecroppers George Coleman, who was three-quarters Cherokee and a quarter black, and his black wife Susan. Bessie was the tenth of thirteen children. She did well in math in her rural Waxahachie, Texas, school, but could not qualify for college. Bessie joined her brothers in Chicago in 1916 at the age of twenty-three (her younger brother Johnny was a cook for Al Capone). She got a job as a manicurist at White Sox barbershop on 5th Street in Chicago’s South Side, where she heard stories of fying aces from patrons coming back from the war in France. Tere, she also made the acquaintance of millionaire newspaperman Robert S. Abbott, founder of the Chicago Defender, who became her advocate and advised her to apply to fying school in France. With Abbott’s help, along with the money she saved from providing manicures for Chicago businessmen and from a second job at a chili parlor, she took French lessons and went to Europe to train with accomplished instructors in France and Germany, returning to the States to launch a successful career as a barnstorming fyer. Historians have found it difcult to study Coleman because of the dearth of primary documents. As biographer Hadley Freydberg writes, she left behind no diaries or letters, and while Pathé News of America had about 2000 feet of documentary flm of her fights, the celluloid deteriorated long before they could be preserved and restored.25 Moreover, the newspaper reports and memories of her family and friends are often conficting; on the one hand, article- and book-length histories can be charged with revisionist hagiography, and on the other, authors at times make procrustean attempts to map the arc of her career against larger narratives of African American achievement in the face of obstacles from both the white establishment and within the black community. Aviation historian Jill Snider casts Coleman’s roots as those of a justice worker within the Black Nationalist/Pan-Africanist movement and the Universal Negro Improvement Association founded by Marcus Garvey. Freydberg styles Coleman as a kind of black Joan of Arc crossed with Icarus, read through Zora Neale Hurston. Bessie’s mother Susan, writes Freyberg, encouraged her daughter, like Hurston’s mother did Hurston, to “Jump at the Sun,”26 a foreboding classical allusion given Coleman’s death after plummeting from a great height. Freyberg also omits many of the accounts of Coleman’s falsely reporting


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on her age and marital status as an impression-management tactic. Coleman lied about her age on her passport application, writing that she was born in 1896 and was therefore twenty-four years of age (vs. twenty-eight). She also said she’d never been married, though a 1916 marriage license indicates she was married to Claude Glenn, an older friend of the family with whom she never cohabitated.27 Biographer Doris L. Rich and historian Jim Haskins are more frank about the tweaks she made to her life story, painting a picture of the lengths to which black entrepreneurs had to go in the face of industry obstacles. Rich goes furthest in allowing readers to imagine a more checkered life for Coleman than celebratory histories or archival records provide evidence for. Rich’s Coleman soaked up the Chicago South Side nightlife. She would have seen Louis Armstrong, King Joe Oliver, Bessie Smith, and Ethel Waters perform.28 Where the money came from for her French lessons and trips to France, and whether it was from one source or many, foats Rich, “no one really knows.”29 As to whether she exchanged companionship or sexual favors for fnancial assistance, “[t]he understandings of the time are perhaps the best guide.”30 Another mystery about Coleman regards the extraordinary climb in fame she garnered in a relatively brief career. In only six years, she went from Southside manicurist to Queen Bess, “Te Only Colored Girl Aviatrix in the World,”31 drawing crowds of thousands for her aerobatic displays and the lectures she gave, billed with newsreel footage of her fights in Europe and America. In those six years, she was hampered by bad blood with managers and promoters she alienated, who spread word that she was unreliable.32 She experienced periods of economic and discriminatory hardship during which she wasn’t able to secure a plane for her own shows. For nearly a year during her short career, she didn’t fy at all as she recovered after a crash in February,192 . Coleman had fnally been able to buy and build a surplus Curtiss Jenny from a kit with money from an advertising contract with the Oakland-based Coast Tire and Rubber Company. A few weeks later, shortly after she took of from Santa Monica airfeld for a show at the fairgrounds twenty-fve miles away, her engine stalled and she nosedived 00 feet to crash onto the airstrip. Coleman sufered lacerations on her face around her eyes and chin, a double fracture in her left leg, three broken ribs, and internal injuries. She spent three months in the hospital and half a year recuperating at home.33 She returned to Chicago the following June with neither a job nor a plane, and had to start her career again from scratch.34

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Nor did Coleman fy very many exhibition fights compared to her white barnstorming peers, such as wing-walker Gladys Ingle, stunt fier Gladys Roy, and “Ethel Dare the Flying Witch.” Not only did Coleman’s promoters book her for shows that she couldn’t fulfll without a plane, she wasn’t even allowed to perform stunts in her premiere performance in New York on September , 1922, because the Curtiss airplane company that supplied one of their planes wouldn’t take on the risk.35 Te show had to be billed merely as the “frst public fight of a black woman in this country.”36 When Coleman was not able to acquire practical resources such as money, steady management, and equitable opportunities to perform, however, she made up the diference with performative gestures. Coleman was able to use the aviator persona emerging in popular culture to groom and shape her own image and that of black Americans. She worked her publicity and interviews to her advantage, positioning herself against stereotypes of blacks in popular perception and promoting the African American fier as upwardly mobile, as always already a professional: she billed herself as an instructor (though she never got her own school up and running), a celebrity (even though many newspapers would never run a story about a black or Native American aviatrix), and a successful black female entertainer (even if she faced resistance from both black and white antagonists on the ground). Te construction of her persona was on the one hand aspirational and forward-looking, and on the other a network of speech acts that called her being into reality. In this regard as well, she worked a line of fight as laying claim to agency that was never a given—an assertion of the value of herself as a star attraction, whether as a “New Negro” or a crowd-pleasing performer. Coleman not only used theatrical and narrative tools to achieve this impression for her spectators and reporters, but also a careful selection of venues and systems of image dissemination. She used the Teatre Owners Booking Association for her fying shows and lecture tours, the same circuit as black vaudeville entertainers, especially promoting movie-theater appearances, where screenings of her stunt fying were double-billed with her lectures.37 She groomed strategic relationships with powerful fgures of infuence, such as Abbott and later Edwin M. Beeman, son of Dr. Edwin E. Beeman and heir to the Beemans chewing gum fortune. (Beemans is aviators’ lucky gum—watch for Chuck Yeager asking for it by name in Te Right Stuf. More on the junior Bee-


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man in a few pages.) Coleman’s choice of costume for stunt performances and photo ops was particularly theatrical. For her premier performance in 1922, she wore a military-style ensemble, cut to emphasize her petite feminine fgure: olive drab wool ofcer’s breeches with puttees (strips of cloth tightly wound around the legs from ankle to knee), a French ofcer’s jacket, and a Sam Browne belt with signature over-the-shoulder strap.38 Te slim cut, writes Freydberg, emphasized her tiny frame when she posed next to her plane, to maximize the impact of her bravery at the beginning of a show.39 Te rhetoric with which she framed her goals was also carefully geared toward both the Black Nationalist movement and the New Negro zeitgeist, though the angle changed depending on the venue and the point on her career trajectory. “Initially Coleman wanted to fy because it was exciting and she knew she was capable,” writes Freydberg, “but when she was unsuccessful in fnding a position in commercial aviation, she adapted her aeronautic skills to the subfeld of popular aviation. Concurrently, she developed a defnite political intent to educate other African Americans in aviation to utilize it as a means to upward mobility.”40 Jill D. Snider locates the politics of Coleman’s early interviews with the Chicago Defender within the Black Nationalism movement, and in particular within the valences of Marcus Garvey, vis-à-vis the ways in which African Americans could use aeronautics to advance the race. After airplanes dropped bombs on the homes of black families during the Tulsa race riot in 1921, there was much ambivalence about the future and perceived threat of air technology.41 “Modern military technologies were viewed as a vital part of Garvey’s plans for building a black nation,” writes Snider, and while Garvey initially viewed airplanes as inferior to ships because the latter were the only machines that could get the race to Africa, by January of 1922 he’d come around.42 Blacks would have to build and fy their own “aeroplanes” to work against colonial governments in Africa, he held, particularly in South West Africa, where aircraft were being deployed against the Bondelzwarts people resisting the colonizers. And in September of 1922, the Universal Negro Improvement Association passed a resolution on aeronautics, fnding the world “at present centered on aviation as a subject of ever-increasing importance.”43 Snider places Coleman square in the Black Nationalist and PanAfricanist political arena at the beginning of the decade, witness to the militarization of airships against black people domestically and in the

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black homeland. “[N]ot far removed from Tulsa’s shadow,” writes Snider, Coleman initially appealed in her rhetoric in 1921 to some of the same fears that Garvey had addressed. Expressing dismay that blacks in America “were so far behind the white men” in aeronautical experience, and that the “darker races” worldwide remained behind the lighter ones, she echoed Garvey’s mistrust of the growing technological power of whites. Warning Defender readers in October that the formidable Goliath airplane she had seen in France was being developed as a fghting machine, she pleaded, “We must have aviators if we are to keep pace with the times.”44

In this same interview with the Chicago Defender, Coleman ofered to teach anyone who wanted to learn and said her dream was to start her own fying school.45 In terms of her own persona, Coleman labored to distance herself from unhelpful stereotypes of black America. Family members remembered that her favorite book as a child was Uncle Tom’s Cabin, from which she would give dramatic, tearful readings. But her sister Elois recalled that when Bessie closed the book to conclude her reading performance, she would declare, “I’ll never be a Topsy or an Uncle Tom.”46 Coleman would spend her life determined to get out from under the reputation of Uncle Tom. In 1922, while she was in New York, impresario and Billboard reporter J. A. Jackson signed her to a flm about a black female aviator called Shadow and Sunshine, which was loosely based on her life, but when Coleman arrived for flming, she found they were going to dress her in the frst scenes as an ignorant rural girl in stereotypical raggedy clothes. Coleman backed out.47 “No Uncle Tom stuf for me!” she told Jackson.48 Tree years later, she told an interviewer for the Houston Post Dispatch in 1925 that she intended “to make Uncle Tom’s Cabin into a hangar” and establish a fying school for black aviators.49 She would later draw on the coinage of her own celebrity, actual and perceived. In attempting to negotiate a feature flm deal with Richard Norman just two months before her death, she insisted on star billing in her correspondence. Norman had been courting her for a minor role in a flm called Te Flying Ace. Coleman responded that she’d already written a script, and she was confdent it would draw huge numbers in black theaters, given that mere showings of her two newsreels had drawn so many


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spectators.50 “I am, and know it, the most known colored person (woman alive) other than the jazz singers,” she wrote to Norman. “Write me and let me know what you would like to do about this matter.”51 Coleman used this same celebrity to advocate for integrating her audiences, and indeed insisted on equal seating and entrances for blacks and whites in both Waxahachie and Orlando. When the Orlando Chamber of Commerce sponsoring the event fnally relented in the face of her demands, she still threatened not to perform unless placards were distributed from the air, “letting the members of our Race know they could come into the feld.”52 Coleman even performatively and recursively commented on her own fying history, referring to her infamous near-fatal crash in California for crowds gathered in Houston for the Juneteenth celebration in 1925. Te crowd for the air show, which had originally been designated for an all-black audience, was so great that planners had to set up a special section for white spectators. Coleman’s very frst trick was a high climb into the sky. At the peak of her climb, she deliberately stalled the engine, revisiting the engine failure of her doomed Jenny the previous year, and went into a dive. Just a “few feet” from the ground, Coleman pulled up to relieved gasps and cheers, and went on to a series of dives, barrel rolls, fgure 8s, and loop the loops.53 After the stunt fying, Coleman and other pilots there for the occasion gave rides to seventy-fve African Americans, mostly women, as a way to promote fying as a viable profession. Tis was the frst time blacks in the South had been able to go up in an airplane.54 Troughout her lecture tours in Texas that year, she promoted fying to her audiences, and rarely, if ever, charged admission for students, “whom she hoped to inspire to become future pilots.”55 Tere’s a temptation here to use the spatial vocabulary of “fying,” “rising,” “upward,” “transcendent,” and so forth, as convenient metaphors for Bessie Coleman’s successes, and indeed I’m sure I have already done so in the preceding pages. Tis isn’t surprising, given the cognitive and afective studies that suggest we probably associate forward and upward movement with positive feelings, and vice versa, and that these associations are in fact prelingual (we pick them up as we begin to crawl and move forward as developmental “progress”56). But problematic templates are produced and reproduced in discourse when, informed by our own subjective notions of morality and politics, we overlay these spatial metaphors onto societal practices with which we are already disposed to align ourselves. To describe a civilization, say, or a time period, as being

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“higher” or “more advanced” than another betrays criteria steeped in subjectivity. Te discursive pitfalls of such linguistic charges were what the poststructuralists alerted us to beginning in the latter half of the twentieth century. While many of these scholars maintained that conception was actually only allowable by language57 (a claim against which the cog sci and afect theorists above argue), the upshot is the same: In this case, a tidy narrative ofers itself in which Bessie Coleman rose above her station and helped others to do so, by rising aloft in her airplane. But to hew to this narrative also reifes the striations I cited earlier in this essay, striations maintained and policed through the agreed-on imaginary, informed as it has been by racialized notions stemming from pseudoscientifc nineteenth-century positivism, political power, and economic greed. It also reifes white America as topping the vertical ladder of moral and economic superiority, up which individuals who are racially and ethnically less enfranchised can sometimes pull themselves by their own bootstraps. Deleuze and Guattari radically divorce their discourse from habitual vertical metaphors in a philosophy of immanence emerging in A Tousand Plateaus, What Is Philosophy?,58 and other works. In this philosophy, the rhizome is ofered as a countermodel to the tree-taproot model of representation,59 binary oppositions in relation are reconceived as a becoming-other of each other,60 and a landscape divided into equal parts earth and sky as an allegory for knowledge (in which one can “dig” for the truth or “transcend” a social order) is fattened to a singular surface in which depth is only an illusion created by a fold.61 Yes, Bessie Coleman achieved spectacular heights in the literal sense, but does a philosophy of immanence allow us to conceive of her work as, not such an abstract and fawed notion of “transcendence,” but instead a powerful folding-over of the social and political landscape, shortening the distance from point A to point B, tesseract-like? To switch metaphors would allow us to describe the lines of fight Coleman traced not as a diagonal lines across a striated grid (diagonals on a grid will must always be longer to cross the same distance horizontally or vertically than lines parallel to the X and Y axes), but as strings connecting multiple points through the shortest distances by gathering the surface together in folds or bunches. Coleman’s death was as spectacular as it was tragic. Having moved to Florida to raise money for the fying school that had been her plan from the beginning, and having since grown apart from her patron Robert Abbott, Coleman opened a beauty salon to raise the funds. She had


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largely foregone stunt exhibitions for fundraising, since her host family, the Hills, found it disagreeable. But she did accept an invitation to fy in Jacksonville in April, 1926. She wasn’t able to buy a plane in Florida, but young Edwin Beeman, the chewing-gum heir and aviation enthusiast, whom Coleman met in Orlando, took an interest in her case and put up $500 to have one delivered. So she contacted her white, twenty-four-year old mechanic, William D. Wills, back in Texas and asked him to secure a plane from the Curtiss company and fy it to Florida. On the morning of the show, her promoter John T. Betsch accompanied Coleman to the airfeld. For the dress rehearsal, Wills and Coleman took the plane up. At ,500 feet, the engine suddenly experienced problems. Te plane went into a dive, and then a spin, precipitously dropping 2,500 feet and fipping over in the air. Coleman wasn’t harnessed in because a seatbelt wouldn’t have let her lean out to observe the ground. She was thrown from the plane and her body tumbled end over end for two thousand feet and landed in a barnyard, where nearly every bone in her body was crushed on impact. Wills was able to right the plane, but right before landing he struck a pine tree, which bounced the plane to the ground, trapping Wills under it. Betsch, police, and the owners of the feld where Wills crashed (Mrs. W. S. Meadows and her son, Raymond) rushed to the scene and tried to get Wills free, but in a panic Betsch lit a cigarette and ignited the gasoline fumes escaping the plane. Te explosion of fumes burnt Wills alive in the plane. Betsch was arrested, but released after several hours.62 Here another historiographic temptation emerges: a temptation to overlay a narrative template of Icarus and the Sun over Coleman’s life of ambitiously striving upwards only to exceed her earthly limits and fall to her death. But I fnd that the mythic narrative structure is too romantic and patronizing on the one hand, and too tidy on the other. Coleman’s death was not a direct result of a hubristic desire to overstep her limitations. Many of the factors contributing to her death had to do with the negligence of others at the very least, and, more insidiously, with the generational and wide-reaching layers of injustice and inequality that continually put Coleman in precariously poor-quality machines. After the deaths of Coleman and Wills, accounts emerged that Wills, an experienced pilot, had been forced to land the aging Curtiss plane twice on the way from Texas to Florida because of engine trouble. And after souvenir seekers stripped the charred plane of everything but the engine, authorities found a wrench jammed in the control gears. Inter-

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pretations of the wrench’s presence vary. Freydberg writes that because the plane wouldn’t have been able to take of with the tool already stuck in the gears, it must have been left in the plane out of negligence by Wills or another mechanic.63 Haskins writes that a wrench left on the foor of the plane had slid into the control gears, and that newer planes would have been equipped with a protective covering over the gears to prevent such an occurrence.64 Rich ofers that the wrench had either been on the foor or had been worked loose from its ftting.65 Rumors abounded at the time as well, ranging from speculation that Wills was a spurned lover and fipped Bessie out of the plane on purpose, to envious white fiers who sabotaged the Curtiss engine with a wrench. Ignominiously, the Florida Times Union’s story concentrated mostly on Wills’s death, only referring to Coleman as “the colored woman” or “the woman” that Wills was “teaching” to fy.66 Some black speakers and writers after Coleman’s funeral expressed the sentiment that had she gotten more fnancial support from the black community, she would not have needed to rely on such shoddy planes and equipment.67 “People who could have promoted her program while she lived,” wrote poet Ross D. Brown, “wept and worshipped her after she died.”68 Indeed Coleman, as a black woman in the frst decades of the twentieth century, would not have been liable to get the best resources, and while passenger air travel was the only mode of transportation that had no laws about segregating seats, Jim Crow was nearly inescapable on the ground. And even if the air was relatively free, Coleman received no support or encouragement from white peers in aviation. Amelia Earhart never once mentioned Coleman in her often-recited list of female aviating heroines. And Charles Lindbergh told Readers Digest that blacks were incapable of fying.69 Nonetheless, Coleman’s lines of fight could be followed and traced in new trajectories for African Americans thereafter. Black aviator William J. Powell was inspired to found the Bessie Coleman Aero Club in Los Angeles, an all-black air show. Te show featured Hubert Fauntleroy Julian, “Black Eagle of Harlem,” the most famous black fier after Coleman’s death;70 James Herman Banning, who made history in 19 2 as the frst black pilot to complete a transcontinental fight; and C. Alfred Anderson, who went on to train the African American Tuskegee Airmen in World War II. Powell also used fying to mobilize black leaders and ministers to work for justice and equality, holding that the “airplane was linked to the future—the avenue for blacks to escape subservience.”71


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Te Federal Air Commerce Act of 1926 efectively drew a close to this chapter of fight. Te government’s legislative bid for closer control of commercial fight, passed into law a month after Bessie Coleman’s death, cracked down on dangerous stunt fying shows by requiring all pilots and mechanics to be licensed by the Aeronautic Branch of the Department of Commerce, which would thereafter also regulate all air trafc.72 Subsequent regulations forbade aircraft from fying within 00 feet of one another and carrying explosives or freworks, efectively outlawing the bulk of crowd-pleasing barnstorming acts.73 Finally, writes aviation historian Sean Rossiter, “Te Jenny was legislated out of commercial service in 1927 by new airworthiness regulations that rendered it instantly obsolete.”74 But already, Matilde Moissant and Harriet Quimby, Ruth Law, the Stinson sisters, Gladys Ingle and Gladys Roy, Ethel Dare, Mabel Cody, and Bessie Coleman and her acolytes had traced a line of escape from their own rigid societal structures. Te lines of fight here cut diagonally, in loops and rolls, through the striations of the racialized and gendered order of the early-twentieth-century United States. Tey asserted resistance. Counterhegemony. Tey were tactical in their deterritorialization, sophisticated in their destratifcation. Tey worked, as Deleuze and Guattari would have it, against the plane of state and its war machine, “the plan(e) of organization and dominion” resulting from its appropriation of otherwise free movements.75


Hiroshima, the Enola Gay, and the Performance of the Atomic Age Growing up in the 1980s I was terrifed of the world coming to a close in a fery nuclear holocaust. It was a daily obsession. I doodled mushroom clouds at school and at church. I watched the skies for the inevitable ICBMs missed by the Star Wars Defense System lasers. My town’s daily air-raid siren simply signaled that it was noon, but the sound chilled me to the core. I worked petitions into my bedtime prayers that the world would end quickly and without my conscious awareness of the frightening last moments. Tere is no question that I shared this anxiety with others my age. While previous generations that came of age during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union could take partial comfort in carefully constructed civil-defense drills, such as Bert the Turtle’s duck-and-cover exercises practiced by schoolchildren poignantly described in Tracy C. Davis’s book Stages of Emergency—exercises that continued to “[hang] in the cultural imaginary” long after they were deemed futile with the development of the H-bomb and its capacity to “wipe out civilizations”1—by the time I arrived on the scene, “duck and cover” had long since become a grim joke illustrating the innocent naiveté of a world population subject to destruction at the whim of our national leaders with a press of a button. As Governor Val Peterson, the U.S. Federal Civil Defense Administration director, put it as far back as 1955, “You don’t duck from the explosion of a nuclear weapon, you die, that’s all.”2 Davis expertly illustrates how civil-defense exercises, from duck-andcover drills to large-scale emergency response simulations, were performative acts that indoctrinated citizens into narratives of national security and rehearsed behavior in the face of external threat, dangling the promise of “risk abatement” if everyone did their part (an insidious par35


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adigm with which theater was complicit). My consciousness was shaped by a somewhat diferent set of representational practices attending to the atomic age. Te narratives that trickled down to me growing up in northern Wisconsin were that nuclear proliferation between the US and the USSR had reached such levels that if one or the other superpower triggered a nuclear war, the world would be destroyed several times over.3 Film and television representations and other media gave shape to my anxieties. As a third-grader I wasn’t one of the ten million viewers who watched the 198 ABC made-for-TV movie Te Day After, which dramatized a Kansas community in the hours following a nuclear strike. My parents had heeded the viewer-guide cautions to keep children from watching the flm because of its realistic depictions of the aftermath of a nuclear attack, including graphic scenes of radiation burns. But I was nonetheless steeped in the queasy buzz fueled by second-hand accounts and my own imagination. A little after that, my father, the senior pastor at First Lutheran Church in my hometown of Hayward, devoted a Sunday-morning service to reading aloud from Eleanor Coerr’s 1977 book Sadako and the Tousand Paper Cranes, based on the true story of a Hiroshima girl who died of radiation poisoning before she could fold the requisite number of origami cranes to be saved by the gods—and the completion of the efort by her friends and family after her death. Te book was and is used widely as a tool for peace education and a call for disarmament. After the service, my father was called into his ofce by conservative members of the congregation, including the county’s district attorney and other civic leaders, where he got a dressing down for using the pulpit to help paint the Japanese as victims and fomenting sympathy with the enemy. Te grown-ups, it seemed to me at the time, could not be relied on to help change the course of history. We were all doomed. As a self-conscious and a little chubby kid, my one hope was that if the world was going to end, it would happen sometime in the summer before my sixth-grade year, before I had to start taking showers with my classmates after gym class. As Susan Sontag wrote in her foundational essay “Te Imagination of Disaster,” it became clear in the middle of the twentieth century “that from now on to the end of human history, every person would spend his individual life not only under the threat of individual death, which is certain, but of something almost insupportable psychologically—collective incineration and extinction which could come any time, virtually with-

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out warning.”4 A broad goal of this chapter is to contribute to the ongoing scholarly conversation about representational practices that sought to frame anxieties and politics around the threat of nuclear war, nuclear profusion, and the only historic instances of atomic bombs used as an act of war. More specifcally, I focus attention on the narratives and performative acts having to do with the airplane that dropped the bomb on Hiroshima, the four-engine Superfortress B-29 Intercontinental Bomber named the Enola Gay by its pilot and commander of the mission, Paul W. Tibbets. In chapter 6 and the conclusion I again take up the idea of human-controlled, motorized, heavier-than-air machines as weapons of mass destruction. For now, though, I want to spend time considering how performance and exhibition practices associated with fight wrestle with the notion of nuclear holocaust, becoming themselves battlegrounds for public memory and anxieties about human-made Armageddon. Te 1945 Hiroshima bombing killed tens of thousands of Japanese victims, both instantly by disintegration and slowly by burns or radiation sickness, and it initiated a frightening doomsday paradigm of the atomic age. Te blast killed nearly 80,000 individuals, poisoned and burned 60,000 more, and wrought environmental devastation that continues to this day. Te Enola Gay has become a kind of indexical marker for the bomb, and because of its status as an artifact (unlike a mushroom cloud or the atomic device itself, which no longer remain), and its mobility as a cultural object (as opposed to, say, the city of Hiroshima), it has functioned as a focus for contested narratives, mythmaking, and political spin that make it a particularly trenchant actor in the performance of nuclear war. In 1944, at age twenty-nine, then Colonel Tibbets, a seasoned war pilot who had fown missions in England, occupied France, and North Africa, was given the task of testing and perfecting the newly developed Boeing B-29 bomber, and planning for the use of and delivering atomic bombs. He supervised ffteen B-29 crews and oversaw 1,800 men. Over the course of eleven months Tibbets traveled to Los Alamos to meet with the directors of the Manhattan Project several times, and rehearsed the mission to drop the atomic bomb on Japan. On August 6, 1945, the Enola Gay few the historic mission from Tinian Island near Guam, the assembly of the 8,900-pound uranium bomb, diminutively code-named “Little Boy,” being completed during the fight. Te crew dropped the bomb at 8:15 a.m., and forty-three seconds later it exploded over Hiroshima with an estimated force of sixteen kilotons, the


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equivalent 20,000 tons of TNT. Like other high-profle acts of war, the mission itself was a carefully rehearsed performance on a global scale—a martial art. Tibbets instructed the crews of his plane and the accompanying two B-29s (one of which was named, by the way, Te Great Artiste) to refrain from coarse language in reacting to the blast, because their dialogue was being taped by a special disk recorder and would go down through the ages. In the days following the mission, only select accounts, those that afrmed the United States’ ofcial narrative of the bomb as a decisive victory, were allowed to be published. In a sense, Tibbets’s career in aviation was tied inextricably to aerial performance. His very frst fight at age twelve was part of a promotional stunt for Baby Ruth candy bars in Miami, Florida, where he grew up. Douglas H “Doug” Davis, an aviator who trained pilots in Curtiss Jennys in Europe during World War I, was one of the many barnstormers who afterward made a living by racing and stunt fying. Davis struck a lucrative promotional deal with Curtiss Candy Company to fy over crowds in air shows and drop loads of Baby Ruths attached to tiny rice-paper parachutes.5 Davis regularly brought a volunteer from the crowd up in the air with him in the Baby Ruth part of his show. On this occasion, young Paul Tibbets was probably hand-picked in advance (Tibbets’s father was a wholesale dealer and the chief distributor of Curtiss Baby Ruths in southern Florida). Young Paul’s thrilling fight with a celebrity barnstormer over the Hialeah racetrack and dropping their payload of candy bars on the crowd of spectators instilled in him a dream of fying, and, while his father would have preferred that Paul become a doctor, his mother, Enola Gay Tibbets, encouraged him to pursue aviation, the reason Tibbets would later cite for naming the fateful B-29 after her.6 Te plane was nine miles from Hiroshima’s ground zero when the bomb exploded, and the pilot and his crew described the moments following the detonation, dovetailing their role as performers and reviewers. Tibbets described the scene of destruction to reporters on Guam the following day: It was hard to believe what we saw. Below us, rising rapidly, was a tremendous black cloud. Nothing was visible where only minutes before the outline of the city, its streets and buildings and waterfront piers were clearly apparent. . . . It happened so fast we couldn’t see anything and could only feel the heat from the fash and the concussion from the blast. . . . What had been Hiroshima was going up in a mountain of smoke.7

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Twenty-four-year-old tail gunner George “Bob” Caron described the view as “a peep into hell.”8 Caron, sitting in the back of the aircraft in his turret, was the only crew member to actually watch the bomb explode. He observed, “A column of smoke is rising fast. It has a fery red core. A bubbling mass, purple grey in color with that red core. It’s all turbulent. Fires are springing up everywhere, like fames shooting out of a huge bed of coals. I am starting to count the fres. One, two, three, four, fve, six . . . 14, 15 . . . it’s impossible. Tere are too many to count. . . . Here it comes, the mushroom shape that Captain Parsons spoke about. It’s coming this way. It’s like a mass of bubbling molasses. . . . Te mushroom is spreading out. It’s maybe a mile or two wide and half a mile high. It’s growing up and up and up. It’s nearly level with us and climbing. It’s very black, but there is a purplish tint to the cloud. Te base of the mushroom looks like a heavy undercast that is shot through with fames. . . . Te city must be below that. Te fames and smoke are billowing out, whirling out into the foothills. Te hills are disappearing under the smoke.”9

Tibbets recounted the blast again in his 1978 memoir, Te Tibbets Story, this time with some editorializing: Te giant purple mushroom . . . had already risen to a height of 45,000 feet, miles above our own altitude, and was still boiling upward like something terribly alive. Even more fearsome was the sight on the ground below. Fires were springing up everywhere amid a turbulent mass of smoke that had the appearance of bubbling hot tar.10

And on another occasion he opined, “[i]f Dante had been with us on the plane, he would have been terrifed. Te city we had seen so clearly in the sunlight a few minutes before was now an ugly smudge. It had completely disappeared under this awful blanket of smoke and fre.”11 Despite the sobering and poetic tone Tibbets’s descriptions took on later in his life, the pilot never expressed regret for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (the second bomb mission was originally assigned to Tibbets, but he gave the honor to Major Charles Sweeney12), and to the day he died in 2007 he maintained that the attacks cut the war in the Pacifc short by several months, eventually saving thousands more lives than they took.


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Reactions of the rest of the crew of the Enola Gay and the accompanying B-29s, however, were mixed at best. Most infamous, perhaps, was the reaction of Tibbets’s copilot, Captain Robert A. Lewis, who jotted in his logbook on the mission, “My God. What have we done?” Lewis repeated the line aloud twice on live television when he appeared as a mystery guest on Tis Is Your Life in a controversial gimmick that arranged a surprise meeting between Lewis and Methodist minister Rev. Kiyoshi Tanimoto, who was a survivor of the Hiroshima devastation, a peace activist, and an advocate for the Hiroshima Maidens disfgured by the bombing’s efects.13 Testimonies about the Hiroshima attack from the Japanese survivors, told from the area surrounding ground zero, are of course vastly more grave than the poetical and philosophical accounts of those aboard the B-29s that few the mission. Te stories are haunting and heartbreaking, from the memories of the blinding white blast to the black rain that fell from the sky. Te in-shock burn victims who tried to help those around them even as the skin fell of their bodies. Te piles of corpses that flled the streets and rivers. Te excruciating deaths that continued to follow weeks and months after the attack. And these memories are limited to those survivors who lived long enough to record their testimony, in many cases decades after 1945 . . . and they are limited to what is representable by human words.14 In the following decades, Tibbets appeared frequently in print and in television interviews recounting the Enola Gay mission, and justifying it, along with the subsequent bombing of Nagasaki, as the decisive chapter that brought an end to the war in the Pacifc. In his memoir, Tibbets came out as actively against nuclear war: “Nuclear warfare is indeed inhuman and ought to be banned,” Tibbets writes in the conclusion to his memoir. “By the same token, other forms of warfare, such as the dropping of frebombs and the shooting of soldiers with cannon and rifes, are likewise uncivilized and should be outlawed. Tose who try to distinguish between civilized and uncivilized forms of combat soon fnd themselves defending the indefensible. To suggest that one specifc act of war is barbaric and thereby illegal is to imply that other forms of slaughter are acceptable and consequently legal.”15 Tibbets later seemed to reverse his position: in 1985 he told an interviewer that, if asked to drop a nuclear weapon on Hanoi during the Vietnam War, “I would’ve without any question.” And he also said he would have done so against Muslim extremists.16 He told Studs Terkel in 2002 that he supported using nuclear weapons against

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current U.S. enemies: “Oh, I wouldn’t hesitate if I had the choice. I’d wipe ’em out. You’re gonna kill innocent people at the same time, but we’ve never fought a damn war anywhere in the world where they didn’t kill innocent people. If the newspapers would just cut out the shit: ‘You’ve killed so many civilians.’ Tat’s their tough luck for being there.”17 Despite the ambivalent and sometimes contradictory sentiments attributed to him in published prose, Tibbets’s comments and actions before and since commemorated and framed the Hiroshima bombing and the Enola Gay as worthy of celebration and public reverence. Perhaps one of the most compelling and fraught moments in Tibbets’s post-Hiroshima career in the bomb’s impression management was in the fall of 1976, when he reenacted the event itself. On October 10, 1976, the real-life Enola Gay pilot simulated the dropping of Little Boy for an audience of 40,000 cheering spectators in an air show in Harlingen, Texas. Te annual show was a production of the Confederate Air Force, a Texas-based organization of fiers and enthusiasts devoted to restoring World War II aircraft, and took place at Rebel Field outside Harlingen.18 By way of a brief aside, it bears mentioning that the name of the organization and its air-show stage evoke a consciousness of the South as victims in the so-called Northern War of Aggression— threatened and under attack by an outside aggressor, echoing conservative patriots’ later claim that their history was under attack by liberal revisionists who would insult veterans by painting the Japanese as victims. If he balked at the names, Tibbets didn’t do so publicly. He referred to the Confederate Air Force as a Texas-based organization of “serious minded but fun loving fiers who have restored a feet of obsolete World War II aircraft.”19 Nevertheless, the Confederate Air Force couldn’t keep its problematic name forever in the face of the mounting progressive cultural shifts of the late twentieth century, and the group later redesignated themselves the Commemorative Air Force. Tibbets had been invited to attend the air show the previous year, in which a restored B-29 had reenacted the Hiroshima bombing. Te producers that year had set of a small explosion to reference the 1945 mushroom cloud, and the crowd greeted the spectacle as a great success. Tibbets agreed to return for the 1976 show to appear in his celebrity capacity for a larger-scale simulation and to help raise money for the organization.20 On the morning of the air show, Tibbets executed three practice takeofs and landings in a B-29 named Fif that had been salvaged by the Con-


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federate Air Force from an “airplane graveyard” at China Lake, California, and restored “at considerable expense.”21 Ten, for the gathered crowd of 40,000, each of whom had paid $5 admission, Tibbets performed the headlining stunt, which simulated not only the Hiroshima bombing, but also, by virtue of the cheering fans, his 1927 Baby Ruth bombing in Miami ffty years earlier. Archival footage of the air show, without sound recording, reveals the B-29 Fif fying low over the airfeld from the crowd’s left to its right. Te silver aircraft is awkward-looking, inelegant, and front-heavy; a long skinny fuselage hunching its broad shoulders. A split second after Fif drones over the appointed spot, a yellow-orange fash of light and smoke signals the explosion, set of by a team of demolition experts supplied by the U.S. Army. Te roiling smoke issuing from the blast takes the shape of an enormous mushroom as it rises hundreds of feet into the clear blue sky. For several moments, the camera operator pans up as the smoke billows outward and upward on its plume, like an immense burgeoning chalk-white caulifower.22 In the preserved script of the simulation, the public announcer narrates the scene: “As the B-29 approaches, the explosion of the atomic bomb goes of, ending some of the darkest days of America’s history. At the controls of the Boeing B-29 Superfortress is General Paul Tibbets, who was the pilot of Enola Gay that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima.”23 Far from memorializing the thousands upon thousands of lives taken by the bomb, and likewise far from being a grim reminder of the doomsday clock under which the world now lived, the Harlington simulation instead celebrated the prowess of American ingenuity, technology, and aviation. While not the actual Enola Gay (at that point dismantled and on mothballs in Virginia), Fif stood in as a suitable surrogate for the B-29, and its pilot charged the fight with a ritual efcacy that performatively linked the reenactment to the real thing. Here, however, the “real thing” was not the smoldering, poisonous scene of death and destruction wrought by the frst in an ever-more-powerful series of weapons of mass destruction, but a glorious military feat that turned the tide of a war and established the nation’s might as a superpower. Te announcer’s narrative does not mention the victims of the attack, and foregrounds the Enola Gay’s act of dropping the bomb over the resulting explosion. Tis is an event that ends “the darkest days of America’s history.” Te whitewashing performative historiography enacted by the air show matches up with the 1945

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bombing of Hiroshima about as faithfully as the pillar of bright white smoke rising above the clean domestic Texas airfeld matches the “purple mushroom cloud” and “bubbling hot tar” in Tibbets’s own accounts. In the next shot of the archival flm, the plane makes another pass over the airfeld from right to left with its landing gears down, efectively taking its bow to close the performance. As I’ve written elsewhere, performative simulations (simmings) such as the reenacted bombing refect intended perceptions of a time and space more than they can promise to “capture” the true contours of their originals. Indeed, many simmings strive to reimagine, improve on, revise, rub against, or oppose an original as conceived by its participants. In this manner, Linda Hutcheon’s defnition of adaptation as “repetition but without replication, bringing together the comfort of ritual and recognition with the delight of surprise and novelty,” becomes very germane to this kind of reperformance.24 As with Tracy Davis’s accounts of Cold War civil-defense drills, here again theater was complicit in a narrative meant at once to reafrm U.S. power and to invoke the threats to what we hold dear. What I’ve called “simmings of reifcation” confrm and cement values, dilemmas, political states, or doctrines that already exist in the abstract in a community’s perception, but that the community feels must continually be policed and maintained. Civic pageants such as the Confederate Air Force show, which simulate aerial maneuvers used in war, reify a nation’s perception of its technological and military prowess, and reify the power of the threats they simulate overcoming, thereby concretizing them in the present and maintaining their contours. Coverage of the air show and the bombing simulation went out over the Associated Press wire, drawing immediate reactions from Japanese ofcials and antiwar groups. Te Japanese Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs issued a condemnation for the insensitivity of the performance. Hiroshima’s mayor, Takeshi Araki, called the show “grotesque” when informed about it by a reporter, and sent a letter of protest to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo saying the show “trampled on the spirit of Hiroshima and was a blasphemy against the many people still sufering from the afterefects of the blast.” In a press release Araki wrote to the organizers, “What you have done insults the Japanese people who sufered from the bomb. I feel real rage and we shall protest to the U.S. government and all concerned.”25 Te American Embassy in Tokyo expressed regret and pointed out that the Texas air show was privately sponsored. Japanese


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foreign minister Kosaka Zentaro lodged a protest, stating, “A bomb and a mushroom-shaped cloud is a real nightmare for the Japanese. Although it was a civilian air show, I cannot refrain from feeling badly. Tey lacked consideration for the feelings of others.”26 Te Confederate Air Force issued a follow-up statement, expressing regret if some Japanese people were ofended, but adding, “[W]e feel that this demonstration was altogether proper and presented in an appropriate manner. We do not owe an apology to anyone.” It noted that the war, started by the Axis powers, cost 0 million lives, both civilian and military, between 19 9 and 1945.27 Tibbets went on in his memoir to defend the performance by taking on the initial protest by the Japanese Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs and its president Ichiro Mortake, saying that not all Japanese shared its view. He evidenced his defense by claiming that a freelance Japanese photographer even participated in the air show and expressed surprise at the Tokyo reaction.28 He went on to describe how Japanese tourists visiting the National Atomic Museum in Albuquerque applaud flmed scenes of American nuclear accomplishments. Tere was little bitterness when he had been interviewed by Japanese writers and commentators, he wrote, and a majority of Japanese welcomed the end of the war.29 In a fnal stab at Mortake, he wrote that his critic “might not be alive today, to lead his protest group, had it not been for the atom bombs” delivered by the B-29s, which efectively ended the war before many more Japanese lives were taken.30 Te air show and its ensuing controversy become a chapter in a long and careful performative shaping of public opinion not only justifying the atomic attacks on Japan as legal acts of war, but framing Tibbets himself as innocent of atrocity, he having never lost a wink of sleep over his role in the missions, as he told reporters after the show.31 Nevertheless, the defense of the Hiroshima bombing and its simulation was not enough to justify a future reprise, and follow-up reenactment of the bombing at the 1977 air show was cancelled. What changed between 1976 and 1977 that caused the air show planners to fnally bow to critics? Perhaps most compelling were the emerging pressures to cease the bombing performance from Congress and the Carter administration. President Jimmy Carter, to be sure, knew intimately about the performative capacity of an airplane as an outward symbol of diplomacy. At President Carter’s request, Air Force One, the presidential jet, was modifed in appearance to foster positive foreign relations. Before Carter’s presidency, Air Force

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One’s livery featured a white fuselage with bold red highlights, wings, and tail. Carter, however, considered the red color aggressive and jingoistic, and the aircraft was repainted with blue highlights, signaling a spirit of peace. Te Confederate Air Force must have thought better of bucking the desire for respect, prudence, and diplomacy from the legislative and executive branches of the federal government, and the bombing reenactment was cut from the program, though Tibbets would still appear in a fying demonstration at the 1977 air show, without the explosion.32 Te battle over representation of the bombing reached another peak in 1995, when the Smithsonian Institution’s plans for exhibiting a restored portion of the Enola Gay’s fuselage on its fftieth anniversary at the National Air and Space Museum were infamously scuttled after veteran groups, politicians, and donors criticized the museum for focusing too much attention on the Japanese victims of the blast. Te exhibition was to be accompanied by interpretive text questioning the necessity of the atomic attacks, and suggesting that for most Americans, bombing Japan was an act of vengeance for Pearl Harbor. One panel would have asked visitors to consider, in light of available evidence, whether a Japanese attack on the United States would have ever been certain, and a portion of the exhibit called for a panoramic view of the destruction of the city of Hiroshima from ground zero.33 Tis room would have placed spectators in the center of a decidedly diferent simming than the 1976 air show, this time from the point of view of the bomb’s victims. Te confict rattled the museum world in the way it pitted an institutionally curated historical account against competing narratives of lobbyists and public critics, and I don’t have the space to treat the very extensive particulars here. Te Enola Gay fasco, to which it is ruefully referred, however, was exhaustively detailed by Martin Harwit, director of the Air and Space Museum when the controversy broke, in his 1996 book An Exhibit Denied,34 and by public historian Edward T. Linenthal, who served on the Enola Gay exhibit’s advisory committee, in his coedited volume History Wars.35 Sufce it to say here that the upshot of the confict was largely determined by political actors more than it necessarily refected mainstream American opinion. Te Air Force Association, one of the major groups that helped convince Congress to demand that the Smithsonian exhibit be revised or cancelled, was not a veterans group like the American Legion or the Veterans of Foreign Wars, who also participated in the critiques, points out historian Paul Shackel, but “a lobbyist group backed


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by manufacturers of aviation technology utilized by U.S. military units. Tey are a voice for defense contractors.”36 In league with the planned exhibition’s critics, one of the harshest voices in the opposition was that of Tibbets himself, who responded to the initial script as a “package of insults . . . [that] will engender the aura of evil in which the plane is being cast” and an efort to force the planners’ politics on the American public and to “damn military history.”37 In a November 1994 meeting, Tibbets urged Smithsonian Secretary I. Michael Heyman to fre Harwit and two curators.38 Te eventual exhibition, personally overseen by Heyman, was stripped of contextualizing panels, minimizing the story of the bomb’s efect and letting the Enola Gay stand alone in a “blandly upbeat” display along with a short flm of reminiscences of the plane’s crew, largely unmediated by any curatorial intervention.39 Harwit resigned when the decision was made to purge the exhibit. Heyman’s rationale, Harwit wrote in his account of the fasco, implied that “it was more important for America to accept a largely fctitious, comforting story in this commemorative year than to recall a pivotally important twentieth-century event as revealed in trustworthy documents now at hand in the nation’s archives.”40 Te shift in the exhibit’s narrative framing did not put an end to objections against the Smithsonian’s display of the Enola Gay; now it was just no longer the conservatives and defense contractors doing the objecting. Hundreds of historians and other scholars signed letters of dissent leading up to the exhibit’s opening in the summer of 1995, arguing that the exhibit as revised sanitized the violence of nuclear bombs and omitted evidence from General Dwight D. Eisenhower and Admiral William D. Leahy expressing the view that the bombing was not necessary to win the war in the Pacifc. When the exhibit fnally opened, hundreds of protesters flled the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum on the National Mall. Some knelt on the foor chanting “Never again.” Dozens appeared at the rail overlooking the Entrance Pavilion, where Chuck Yeager’s experimental X-1 rocket plane, Glamorous Glennis, John Glenn’s Mercury capsule Friendship 7, and Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis were displayed, and unfurled long banners decrying what they saw as a celebration of nuclear war. Tese demonstrators also dropped loads of fyers with their message on the visitors occupying the exhibition foor below. “Tey’re glorifying the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki instead of presenting a balanced view of the horrors of nuclear weapons,” shouted one demonstrator in an AP video of the protests.41 Other protestors took up positions in the Enola Gay exhibit area and

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threw ashes and human blood on the plane after chanting, “We repent! We regret!” Te same AP video shows several demonstrators confronting police and some being handcufed. Dozens refused to leave and were removed by police. By the end of the day three protestors had been arrested.42 Te episode in museum history brings into sharp relief the questions regarding apposite stewardship of our histories, and the degree to which outside powers ought to have control over curatorial decisions. Public historian Cary Carson puts the Enola Gay Smithsonian controversy into the same long war over the “ownership” of American history as Disney’s proposed American theme park in Virginia (which would have depicted slaves working in the felds), and the controversial Columbus Quincentennial celebrations.43 Former New York Times chief drama critic and later editorial columnist Frank Rich wrote that the post-Enola Gay Smithsonian represents a cautionary tale of what can happen when our politicians’ ideal of historical pedagogy is realized—when history, whether taught by a museum or in the classroom, is an unadorned, unambiguous and determinedly celebratory chronicle of great men and events, free of the interpretations of nefarious academics who sometimes challenge the conventional wisdom about the past. What can happen is that history becomes inert, and a museum fondly known as “the nation’s attic” becomes exactly that—an antiquarian display indistinguishable from a high-class memorabilia arcade.44

Many historians now consider the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to indeed have been unnecessary in bringing about the end of World War II, and that it was in fact the Soviet Union’s declaration of war on Japan and invasion of Japanese-occupied Manchuria on August 8 that brought about Japanese surrender. Evidence suggests that President Truman knew months before the bombings that a Soviet attack on Japanese forces would end the war.45 A June 0, 1945, War Department report states, “Te entry of the Soviet Union into the war would fnally convince the Japanese of the inevitability of complete defeat.” But the debate about whether the bombs were justifed was already in full swing in the months following the war, with even conservative voices in Time, United States News, and the National Review critiquing the decision to bomb Japan. It was only in later years, writes Linenthal, that all such criticism became framed as left-wing revisionism.46


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Tat the bombings may ultimately have been moot would dismantle the bulk of the justifcation for the Enola Gay’s celebration in commemorative performance and display. Te doomed Smithsonian exhibit would have confronted visitors with this argument, but the censuring of its planners and the resulting whitewashed exhibition demonstrates that reasoning voices critical of the nuclear option continue to be met with strong conservative opposition, just as I frst witnessed when the grown-ups gave my dad that cease-and-desist order when he dared to preach for peace. To this day, the Smithsonian Enola Gay fasco haunts the curatorial profession, no matter what kind of museum or gallery is in question, whether it is a science and technology or historical institution in the vein of the National Air and Space Museum, or something more akin to the Smithsonian’s portrait galleries, natural history museums, or galleries devoted to racial or ethnic identity. Indeed, the Enola Gay continues to serve as a case study for the dos and don’ts and the pitfalls of exhibition and display in introductory coursework in higher-ed museum-studies programs, such as the courses taught by my colleagues in museology at the University of Washington. Te Enola Gay’s history of display conjures up such topics as the ethics of collecting, the freedom of narrative choice on the part of the curator, and the roles of patrons, donors, advisory boards, and executives in steering the politics of an institution’s mission. Furthermore, the B-29 seems to be irrevocably charged with the political and moral valence of atomic aggression. Like the Smithsonian’s Enola Gay, the Bockscar, which dropped the second bomb on Nagasaki three days after Hiroshima, was restored for display and is now in the collection of the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton, Ohio, where I viewed it in 201 . In addition to these two planes involved in atomic bomb attacks, the extant examples of the B-29 Superfortress are also general symbols of the atomic age and the Cold War. To be sure, the B-29 has a storied past apart from Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It was instrumental as an incendiary bomber in World War II and the Korean War. It served as a spy plane for gathering intelligence and weather data during the Cold War. Most famously after its role in the atomic bombing missions in Japan, the B-29 was instrumental in military test fying at Muroc (now Edwards) Air Base in the mid-twentieth century. From there in October 1947, a B-29 was used to carry Chuck Yeager’s Glamorous Glennis to an altitude above the desert from which it could be drop-launched and accelerated to Mach 1.06, breaking the “sound barrier” for the frst time in history. Of the nearly 4,000 B-29s produced between

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Fig. 4. Te Enola Gay on display at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, National Air and Space Museum. April 2018. Photo by Scott Magelssen.

194 and 1946, 22 are displayed at various museums in the U.S. and abroad, including an exhibit of the restored T-Square 54, on loan from the Museum of the U.S. Air Force, which opened in 2016 in the Aviation Pavilion at my nearby Museum of Flight in Seattle (T-Square had occupied the museum grounds for months before its opening, mysteriously shrouded, propellers and all, in an opaque protective skin like something provocatively wrapped by Christo or Tadeusz Kantor). Two B-29 Superfortresses, as of this book’s publication, may still be spotted in the air. In addition to Fif, the B-29 Doc was restored to airworthiness at the Kansas Aviation Museum in 2016 and has appeared since in a small number of air shows. Te Enola Gay is still on permanent display at the Smithsonian. I viewed it in the spring of 2018 at the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center of the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, located outside Washington, DC, in Chantilly, Virginia. Unlike its appearance in the special exhibit in 1995, the B-29 is no longer surrounded by informational panels, life-sized photographic blowups


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of the Enola Gay crew, or accompanying video and artifacts, nor is it positioned, as it was in 1995, with its bomb bay open and a reproduction Little Boy beneath. But it does now have wings. In the 1995 exhibition, only the Enola Gay’s fuselage was displayed, along with one B-29 engine propeller mounted on the wall against a blueprint of the same propeller enlarged to full scale. Now, wings fully outstretched to forty-three meters, it is the centerpiece of the World War II Aviation exhibit in the Udvar-Hazy Center, built as an enormous hangar and opened in December 200 precisely to house large artifacts such as the Enola Gay and space shuttle Discovery, which simply don’t ft in the Air and Space Museum on the Mall. Te Enola Gay enjoys a commanding presence in the exhibition space. Its wingspan is nearly the width of the gallery, and its silver skin shines in the skylight from the windows above; it is the frst thing that catches a visitor’s eye as they make their way from the admissions area into the main Boeing Aviation Hangar. But for those who don’t know what they’re looking for, the Enola Gay is just another of the dozens of large aircraft muscling for space in this museum, including a Lockheed 104F Super Constellation, an Air France Concorde supersonic jet, a Boeing “Dash 80” ( 67–80), and a Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird Spy Plane. Because it’s no longer the star attraction of its own exhibit, the B-29 shares its footprint on the hangar foor with several other WW II–era planes and helicopters, which surround it and even nest under its wings. Several more aircraft are hung at varying levels in the space above. Te Enola Gay is itself jacked up about eight or ten feet above the foor on yellow scafolding. Tis allows visitors to pass beneath to see the remote-controlled belly gun turrets and to get a good view into the cockpit from the mezzanine walkway that spans the hangar directly in front of the plane’s nose. Apart from its position among other craft, the remaining curatorial contextualization is a single solitary interpretive panel. A standard boxed text lists the Enola Gay’s stats—“Wingspan: 4 m  .  .  . Top Speed: 546 km/h . . . Crew: 12 (Hiroshima Mission) . . . Ordnance: ‘Little Boy’ Atomic Bomb”—and two short paragraphs of narrative text cover the importance of the B-29s in general. Te frst paragraph describes the Superfortress in aviation and military history, its sophisticated design and systems, and how it was originally designed for the European theater but ended up in the Pacifc. Te second paragraph, fve lines of text total, is devoted to this particular B-29 and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki missions:

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On August 6, 1945, this Martin-built B-29–45-MO dropped the frst atomic weapon used in combat on Hiroshima, Japan. Tree days later, Bockscar (on display at the U.S. Air Force Museum near Dayton, Ohio) dropped a second atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan. Enola Gay few as the advance weather reconnaissance aircraft that day. A third B-29, Te Great Artiste, few as an observation aircraft on both missions.

Tis brief description is not mere perfunctoriness, but an artifact of careful impression management. Devoid of any language attributing the status of protagonist or antagonist to Japan or the U.S., it also lacks valences of aggressor or victim, of winners or deaths or suferers. It clinically and precisely says the Enola Gay dropped the frst atomic bomb used in combat on Hiroshima, but it does not contextualize the event in terms of decisive steps toward the end of the war, or a jingoistic show of force, or a devastating trauma. Visitors happening on the Enola Gay story for the frst time, or those who want to know more, can opt in to further study, including listening to an accompanying Smithsonian audio tour text. Looking from the text to the B-29, one beholds a shining airplane so huge it extends beyond the limits of peripheral vision, no matter the angle—a broad-shouldered giant that almost spitefully shrugs of attempts at singular narrative. I don’t think a lot about nuclear bombs bringing the world to an end anymore. It’s not a major part of popular culture’s collective anxiety the way it was prior to 1989 and the collapse of the Soviet Union. Not that our fear itself has gone away: Tracy Davis has compellingly drawn comparisons between 1950s duck-and-cover drills and the public rehearsing of removing one’s shoes at security checkpoints, arguing that our anxieties have simply been redirected to new “shibboleths of terror.”47 In the past few months as I write this, President Donald Trump has been every so often spiking anxiety levels by doing things like antagonizing North Korea or withdrawing from the Cold War–era nuclear arms treaty with Russia, but these actions have tended to get lost in the shufe with the near-daily sensational news items regarding Trump’s words or behavior. Today, nevertheless, a celebratory reenactment of the Hiroshima bombing would strike most of us as an exercise in barbaric insensitivity. But that doesn’t mean air-show planners don’t keep raising the possibility. Even in the summer of 201 when I was starting this book, plans were underway


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for a bombing simulation at an air show in Ohio, when Fif would have again been put to service representing the atomic attack on Hiroshima. After protests, the planned “Great Wall of Fire” pyrotechnic display was still included at the June 201 Dayton Air Show, but separate from Fif’s appearance.48 Te scrapped air-show performance demonstrates not only the continued battle for representation and commemoration of the Enola Gay and its mission, but for how we conceive of events and their fallout in the history of the atomic age.


The Pilot Voice Communitie s of Pr aC tiCe a nd the ChuCk Y e ager meme

“Anyone who travels very much on airlines in the United States,” writes Tom Wolfe in his National Book Award–winning best seller Te Right Stuf, “soon gets to know the voice of the airline pilot . . . coming over the intercom . . . with a particular drawl, a particular folksiness, a particular down-home calmness that is so exaggerated it begins to parody itself.” So begins not only Wolfe’s famous analysis of the voice of the American commercial airline pilot, but a narrative of its primordial origins deep in the landscape of American folklife. “Well!—who doesn’t know that voice! And who can forget it!” Wolfe continues. It’s the calming voice that tells you, even as the fuselage bobs and plummets in the thundercloudcharged turbulence, to check your seat belts because “it might get a little choppy.” If the voice strikes you as “vaguely Southern or Southwestern,” writes Wolfe, it is because of its specifc fountainhead deep in the Appalachian Mountains of West Virginia coal country, “so far up in the hollows that, as the saying went, ‘they had to pipe in daylight.’” From there, in an extraordinary small-town success story, the folksy regionalism made its way to “all phases of American aviation” in very short order. “It was amazing,” Wolfe exclaims. “It was Pygmalion in reverse.” Te drawl can be tracked to a single individual, asserts Wolfe, “the most righteous of all the possessors of the right stuf: Chuck Yeager.”1 You’ve probably heard the voice Wolfe is talking about: the captain comes on over the plane’s PA system. His is just one of several of the fight’s cast, and while he has relatively little airplay compared with the head fight attendant, his dialogue commands our attention more (my gender pronouns are intentional: only 5 percent of commercial airline 53


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pilots are women; fewer than 1 percent of women commercial pilots are captains2). It is true that the pilot’s information is more specifc to our needs than the fight attendant’s. She (female fight attendants outnumber males three to one3) will remind us of our role in the general order and of the comportment expected of all passengers, and when we can turn on our devices, and when we must turn them of. He, on the other hand, will tell us whether we will be experiencing a degree of turbulence; our current progress in reaching our destination; what we can expect, weatherwise, when we get there; and, on occasion, a point of interest out the starboard or port windows. She tells us to put our seat and tray tables up. He tells us we can sit back, relax, and enjoy the fight. But it is not just the content that separates the captain’s voice from that of his crew. It’s also his delivery. Whereas the fight attendant’s scripted dialogue is crisp, efcient, and eminently rehearsed, the pilot’s voice is relaxed and casual, extempore, generously saturated with leisurely pauses. At times it seems he may be choosing his next word, vocalizing the selection process not with an uncertain “er” but a confdent, back of the throat “uhh . . . ,” as if enjoying the folksy pleasure of wordsmithing while shooting the breeze with old acquaintances. Often, passengers can detect that hint of a drawl.4 Implicit in his performance is a form of soft propaganda, producing a template of “keep calm” that evokes the wartime posters of World War II, which, contemporary pop-camp commodifcation aside, guaranteed civilian complicity with the military agenda in a time of crisis (i.e., the German blitz’s bombing of London from September 1940 to May 1941). Te pilot’s role in a kind of civil defense leadership, however, is not new with the foment of the modern age of terrorism, but can be traced to the beginnings of the explicit construction of the “pilot” from the frst decades of the twentieth century. In the narrative above from Te Right Stuf, Wolfe links the pilot voice most specifcally to West Virginian fghter pilot Chuck Yeager, who broke the sound barrier at Muroc Army Air Field in 1947 (renamed Edwards Air Force Base the following year). Yeager was afterward cinematically linked with cowboy actor and playwright Sam Shepard through his Oscar-nominated role as Yeager in flmmaker Philip Kaufman’s take on Te Right Stuf in 198 . Tis chapter feshes out some further genealogical and performative roots of the commercial airline captain’s presentation of self within the episteme of Cold War and military-industrial-complex performance. To fully consider the pilot’s role in this implicit performance of war, we

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Fig. 5. Chuck Yeager and his rocket plane “Glamorous Glennis,” a Bell X-1. Photo: U.S. Air Force.

need to look more closely at the processes through which he has been constructed over the past half-century. For this part of the book I consulted government studies and training manuals, as well as online forums frequented by pilots and aviation bufs. I also conducted several interviews, including with retired military fiers who now serve as docents at the Museum of Flight in Seattle, and commercial pilots at US airports served by major carriers. (In cases where my interview subjects granted permission to include their name and airline, I do so. Many preferred to remain anonymous.) I asked them whether they thought there was a special-sounding “pilot’s voice” to be used with passengers, and, if so, the rationale for using it and how it came about. In the following pages, I discuss some of their responses, and then draw connections to the larger relationships between war, industry, and air travel. We rehearse for the war on terror every time we fy. We remove our belts and shoes and separate our three-ounce containers of liquids and gels into little plastic bags at security. We consent to ever-more-revealing


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body scans. Moreover, we are trained to be circumspect around our fellow passengers: our active vigilance is encouraged by airport sound-system reminders to watch out for suspicious individuals and unattended bags. “If you see something, say something” is the TSA’s mantra, enlisting us as fellow and necessary players in the fght for freedom and security. “You are the frst line of defense against acts of terrorism on our country—and we need your help.”5 As Tracy C. Davis writes in Stages of Emergency, our rehearsed complicity at airport checkpoints is simply a redirection of our anxieties to new “shibboleths of terror” that were once accommodated by midcentury duck-and-cover drills that purported to ofer protection against an atomic strike.6 Just as hiding under a desk would do little to save us from nuclear war, so removing one’s shoes at security is revealed in the bright light of day to be a Deleuzian ritornello, a “rough sketch of a calming and stabilizing, calm and stable center in the heart of chaos,” that allows us to carry on in the face of an otherwise existential dread of annihilation.7 To be sure, the captain’s voice on the PA system is required in this state of perpetual war and vigilance to be calming, professional, and authoritative. Many of the commercial airline pilots with whom I spoke put it simply: the goal in speaking to passengers is to instill confdence in their command. John Caplinger, who fies for Alaska Airlines, told me he aims to convey comfort and to avoid technical terminology “[e]specially,” he added, “when there’s something going, you know, the way it’s not supposed to be.”8 A young pilot I interviewed outside the gate area at SeaTac International Airport also cited the need to speak in everyday terms, adding that it is important to be clear and direct, since there is little interaction time between pilots and passengers. Most of what needs to be communicated to the passengers he leaves to the fight attendants, “because they’re right there and they can have a face-to-face conversation instead of this voice over the top of the PA.” But the pilots come in when a more authoritative voice is necessary. “[T]echnically we’re in command of the fight. So especially if there’s something of a negative nature—like if we’re letting the passengers know that the fight attendants won’t be able to perform a service or something like that—we’ll get on the PA so that it doesn’t just sound like the attendants are lazy.”9 Frank K. Naahielua, who was introduced to me by his daughter (my theater history student Susan Yoshikawa), ran fight simulator training for Jet Blue in Florida for several years. Naahielua confrmed the need

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to avoid technical terms. It is not helpful to passengers, he says, to give them information in the argot pilots use with each other on the fight deck or in communications with the tower, so he advises pilots to engage a real-time translation into more simple terminology when speaking to passengers over the PA.10 As Naahielua points out, the voice the pilot uses to talk to the passengers is diferent from that used to speak to the tower. While the leisurely paced delivery peppered with pauses may be familiar to travelers, the pilot’s communication with air trafc control needs to be clear, efcient, and precise. It must be free of pauses, and relies heavily on specialized language.11 Te point here is that the voice passengers hear over the PA is part of a repertoire of communicative practice, performed for the occasion and with its own performative strategies, and not just the everyday speech of a particular pilot. It should be said too that, while it strikes many of us as impressive that a pilot can manage to convey a calm and collected demeanor during episodes of turbulence or technical malfunction, the most likely case in most of these situations is that the pilot really is calm. Heavy turbulence, bad weather, and even mechanical failure are fairly minor problems to commercial pilots. In his book Cockpit Confdential: Everything You Need to Know about Air Travel, commercial pilot and Ask the Pilot columnist Patrick Smith writes that, “from a pilot’s perspective [turbulence] is ordinarily seen as a convenience issue, not a safety issue.”12 And while it sounds like a miracle to most of us to, say, land a 747 when all four engines have failed, it’s not uncommon for a commercial jet to go through the entire landing procedure without really even using the engines anyway, a state called “fight idle” in which the engines are run back to zero thrust (a state that, if started at 0,000 feet, can be maintained for at least a hundred miles). “You’ve been gliding many times without knowing it,” writes Smith. “It happens on just about every fight.”13 Te calm and confdent demeanor in a pilot’s vocal performance, then, need not in most cases be taken for granted as pretense or dissimulation. Not every pilot will tell you that there’s a specifc voice they use with passengers. Some pilots were outright dismissive of the idea. One even laughed in my face, then threw over his shoulder “We practice it at home!” as he walked away down the concourse at Denver International Airport.14 But many others confrmed that there was indeed a distinct voice that pilots put on over the PA, which difers from their “ordinary” voice. A woman pilot riding as a “nonrev” passenger (“deadheading” is the collo-


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quial term), with whom I chatted on a Seattle-to-Denver fight, confrmed that some of her male colleagues use it. “It’s the deep professional voice,” she said. “I’ve heard ’em do it!” She did a quick impression to illustrate. “I’m like [pantomiming a double take] ‘Who are YOU?’”15 In April 2018 I was seated near another nonrev pilot, an African American man with four stripes on his sleeves. “Excuse me, Captain, can I ask you a question?” I ventured, “Is there a pilot voice pilots use to talk to the passengers in the cabin?” He smiled and assumed a folksy smile. “Tat’s ahhhhh . . . ,” he drawled conspiratorially, “Tat’s classifed.”16 Patrick Barry, who fies for Delta Airlines, said he thought there was defnitely a pilot voice. He calls it “airplane talk.” “I think there’s an attempt to have the authority that people [want]. . . . Tey don’t want to be second-guessing the guy up there at the controls doesn’t know what he’s doing.”17 It makes absolute sense, then, as the pilots with whom I spoke confrmed, that the pilot needs to sound in control, professional, and clear. But if Tom Wolfe’s description of the pilot’s voice and my own experience are to be believed, then certainly the pilot, as professional speaker, has a signature voice that goes against convention in other public-speaking venues. In fact, it would seem to run counter to the best practices we pick up in our own training. Te long pauses, the ahs and uhs, the downplaying of stakes, the lullaby tones—all are antithetical to persuasive speaking, advertising, TED Talks, and classroom lectures. In Wolfe’s Shavian framing, it is Pygmalion in reverse: Shaw’s Henry Higgins attempts to pull Eliza Doolittle from the lowly folk to the realm of gentility by coaching her out of her cockney dialect. In “airplane talk,” the language of gentility is the language of the folk, perhaps even the up-hollow folk of Appalachia. So where did this kind of professional voice come from? Tom Wolfe’s Chuck Yeager origin story is indeed perhaps the most trenchant of explanatory narratives. In Wolfe’s account, the pilot’s voice jumps meme-like from Yeager to his fellow test pilots, to fghter pilots at Edwards Air Force Base, and from there to the rest of the pilots in the armed forces and on to commercial airlines. Wolfe maps the dissemination as emanating from Edwards, where Yeager was a military test pilot and where he broke the sound barrier in his experimental Bell X-1 jet, Glamorous Glennis (named after his wife): [N]o one would contest the fact that as of that time, the 1950s, Chuck Yeager was at the top of the pyramid, number one among all the True Broth-

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ers. [ . . . ] At frst the tower at Edwards began to notice that all of a sudden there were an awful lot of test pilots up there with West Virginia drawls. And pretty soon there were an awful lot of fghter pilots up there with West Virginia drawls. [ . . . ] And then that lollygaggin’ poker-hollow air space began to spread, because the test pilots and fghter pilots from Edwards were considered the pick of the litter. [ . . . ] And then, because the military is the training ground for practically all airline pilots, it spread further, until airline passengers all over America began to hear that awshuckin’ driftin’ gone-fshin’ Mud River voice coming from the cockpit [ . . . ] “Now folks, uh, this is the captain . . . ummmm . . . We’ve got a little ol’ red light up here on the control panel that’s tryin’ to tell us that the landin’ gears’re not . . . uh . . . lockin’ into position . . .” But so what! What could possibly go wrong? We’ve obviously got a man up there in the cockpit who doesn’t have a nerve in his body! He’s a block of ice! He’s made of 100 percent righteous victory rolling True Brotherly stuf.18

At the time Wolfe was writing, most commercial airline pilots came up through military training, so his theory of the transmission of the Chuck Yeager voice from Cold War test pilots to commercial airline PA systems might hold up. Te macho unrufed cowboy mystique of the fghter pilot is certainly epitomized, if not sired, by Yeager, and its pop culture traces attest to its resilience through what Diana Taylor calls “acts of transfer,” her term for performance as transmission of “social knowledge, memory and a sense of identity” through reiterative behavior.19 Sam Shepard’s Yeager in Te Right Stuf embodies the hero as what director Philip Kaufmann envisioned as a kind of hipster Gary Cooper “with the collars up,”20 a manner Alex Von Tunzelmann, writing for the Guardian, calls nothing less than “[t]otal badass.”21 I shared an elevator with a young airline captain after shortly after checking into a conference hotel in Minneapolis in November, 2016. I asked him point blank if there was a Chuck Yeager voice that commercial pilots strive to emulate. “Yeah, I’m working on it,” he answered. “I’m not there yet. . . . I’m more like a Bob Yeager.”22 Afnities between the midcentury American test pilot and the American cowboy archetype are easily perceived. Test pilots essentially strapped themselves onto dangerous experimental jet and rocket engines as if they were unbroken young horses. Cowboy-like, test pilots were found in rough, desolate places such as the high desert of California where Edwards Air Base is located. Edwards test pilot and astronaut hopeful


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Joseph A. Walker highlights the connection in a well-known 1955 publicity photo reproduced on this book’s cover. Sporting a cowboy hat and a spirited grin, “Cowboy Joe” Walker gives an impression of straddling a Bell X-1A rocket plane like a steed—or of riding it like a bunking bronco. (A pilot selected in 1958 for the U.S. Air Force’s Man in Space Soonest program before MISS was dismantled with the creation of NASA, Walker would go on in 196 to cross the Kármán line [above 100 kilometers] in two separate X-15 rocket plane fights, making him the frst human to reach space more than once. He died three years later when his Lockheed F-104 exploded after a collision with another aircraft. NASA conferred on Cowboy Joe his Astronaut wings posthumously in 2005). Repertoiric traces of the smooth American cowboy pilot are be found from Tom Cruise’s “Maverick” Mitchell in Top Gun to Tom Hanks’s Jim Lovell in Apollo 13 (Lovell memorably delivered the understated line “Houston, we’ve had a problem here,” when his crew’s spacecraft lost its oxygen tanks and two of its three fuel cells). Te long list of supercool Hollywood aviators includes John Wayne (Flying Tigers), Dean Martin (Airport), Gregory Peck (Twelve O’Clock High), Tom Selleck (High Road to China), Robert Downey Jr. and Mel Gibson (Air America), Harrison Ford (Star Wars, Air Force One), and Ryan Gosling (First Man). Some of these movies, most notably Jerry Bruckheimer–produced Top Gun (1986), have in turn been identifed as long expensive commercials for the Air Force—a way for the military-industrial complex, as the crowdsourced slang index Urban Dictionary frames it, “to con our children into joining the military.”23 Even if one cannot with certainty trace the origins of the cowboy pilot drawl to one specifc military test pilot like Yeager, other narratives similarly situate its beginnings in military airbases. In September 2015, I spoke with a number of retired pilots at the Museum of Flight, where they now serve as docents. According to one of these pilots, Bob Salling, the vast majority of commercial pilots in the mid-twentieth century came out of military training, and the reason they have southern or western accents is that the vast majority of those pilots were trained in Texas. About ninety percent of the pilots in World War II trained in the southern United States, because of the weather conditions [ . . . ]. When you drive through Texas, there’s not a county you go through that did not have a military airport during World War II [ . . . ]. Whether they were Navy or Air

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Corps they trained in Texas [ . . . ]. And yet these were a bunch of bachelors, away from home, and when they would have the dances they would literally bring the ladies in by the busload, the local girls. And they met them and they got married to them.24

In other words, according to Salling, commercial pilots in much of the twentieth century spoke with a drawl because, as military airmen, they picked it up from their wives and their wives’ families. Te military origins of the pilot’s voice would certainly fnd symmetry in the military origins of the pilot’s appearance. As with commercial sea captains, the military look and bearing of pilots’ forebears are tacitly referenced in their uniforms. Te trimly cut dark suits with stif shoulders and stripes on the epaulets, as well as the brimmed captain’s hat with a braid design on the visor, were introduced by Pan Am in 19 1 for their Clipper foatplanes. With Pan Am’s feet of Sikorsky S- 8 and S-40 fying boats, and later the B- 14 fying boats, it made sense for commercial passenger pilots, in the course of still being invented in real time, to wear uniforms based on naval uniforms rather than fghter-pilot gear.25 Before this, commercial pilots, nearly all of whom would have been military fiers before entering the commercial travel industry, favored leather bomber jackets, khakis, and scarves. (Some airlines, such as Southwest and JetBlue, outft their pilots with leather fghter pilot–style jackets.26 Since then, the trappings of militaria in the cut of the dress shirts, blazers, and captain’s hat have denoted the pilot’s social position and authority.27 Te braids on the cap are a holdover from sleeve braids on older Naval uniforms. Te captain’s insignia featuring the star and laurel wreath are similar to those worn by Air Force command pilots. And the wing badges on the chest and the stripes on the shoulders and jacket cufs correspond to features of the Navy dress blue uniforms (four stripes for captain, three for frst ofcer/copilot). A necessary disclaimer before I go much further: as I pointed out in the introduction, my goal as a constructivist performance historian is not to trace a single, linear cause-and-efect trajectory for any one of my case studies. Rather, as I do in the other chapters, here I trace lines of fight through various trajectories and nodes in a much more rhizomatic network of relations. An individual pilot’s performative afect is informed by a multiplicity of factors too complex to parse. Moreover, identifying pilots as a single “type” within an ensemble of professional characters is, to be


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sure, not only futile, but misguided. At the same time, the performative conventions of commercial airline pilots’ demeanor, comportment, posture, delivery, material, and appearance are a familiar-enough trope in contemporary life and media representation that they bear scrutiny. Te stereotype is easy enough to confrm with a quick web search for the keywords “pilot” and “voice.” “CK Dexter Haven,” a contributor to “Straight Dope,” an online message board maintained by the Chicago Reader, wrote, “I’m [ . . . ] convinced they all (well, the ones in the US anyway) have fake Southern accents, because they think that is more soothing to the passengers.” Multiple posters responded to “CK Dexter Haven” with their own stories of pilots’ “aw shucks” drawl in times of hairy patches during fights.28 Second, changes to the airline industry have brought shifts in the backgrounds and training from which pilots emerge. It’s true that throughout most of the twentieth century, when arguably most of our pop-culture associations with the pilot were cemented, aviators got their training in the military and so came from a regimented culture of the armed services. Today, however, most pilots get their schooling as civilians, through private lessons, professional and college programs, and company training.29 It can be argued that the way today’s pilots speak is informed as much by their particular racial and socioeconomic background as by any specifc individual’s legacy. Tey talk like white and comparatively rich men. In a sense, they are today’s gentry. Aviation has probably always been achievable mostly by those of means. Te most famous fyers in American history have been from the upper classes. Charles Lindberg, Howard Hughes, and Amelia Earhart all came from families of prominent bankers, businessmen, and politicians. (Bessie Coleman, whom I treat in chapter 1, is a striking exception, though to be sure, she was prevented in her own time from reaching anything near her white contemporaries’ level of fame and success by entrenched racism in both her own profession and the media.) Te same was largely the case in Europe. In Jean Renoir’s 19 7 flm La Grande Illusion, the French prisoner-of-war pilots routinely have drinks with their German ofcer captors, even after multiple escapes and recaptures, because after all, they’re all aristocrats. Te bulk of contemporary commercial pilots, it can be argued, while not aristocrats, are also of a privileged demographic. To begin, as they were in the days of Bessie Coleman, almost all American pilots are still white. Just over 2 percent of commercial airline pilots

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are black;30 Hispanic or Latino pilots account for 5 percent and Asian pilots for only 2.5 percent.31 Nearly all (95 percent) are male. Do passengers put the same amount of trust in a female pilot’s voice as a male’s? Tere is an argument that female voices are the best for cutting through chatter and noise during emergencies. Early studies of the perceived authority of digitized voice warning systems on the fight deck (referred to in airline slang as “Bitching Betty”) and female air trafc controllers found that female voices more quickly got the attention of male pilots and fight crew. Subsequent studies, however, concomitantly with more females being employed as pilots and air trafc controllers, determined that the diference in perceived authority of male and female voices is negligible, and in some cases that male voices are perceived as more authoritative.32 A 201 British survey of about 2,400 travelers conducted by Sunshine., however, found that 51 percent of airline passengers trust a male voice over a female’s, due in part to its lower register, but it also cited a perception that they trusted male pilots to be more skilled, and doubted that a female pilot could handle the pressure of an emergency situation.33 Twenty-fve percent of respondents answered that a pilot’s gender did not matter to their feelings of trust, while only 14 percent said they’d trust a female pilot more than a male. To fght such perceptions, advocates have suggested a range of strategies, from making the career path to commercial piloting easier and more attractive to women, to voice training for female pilots to get them into a lower, more authoritative register.34 I spoke with a woman pilot on an Alaska Airlines fight in July 2016 from Seattle to Minneapolis/St. Paul. She told me that, yes, some of her male colleagues defnitely talk a certain way, which she described as “old fashioned” and “trying to be cool,” but she also shared that, as a woman, she recognizes that she needs to avoid talking in a higher register, which can be perceived as shrill. To help, she tries to always speak in a very calm, friendly, and professional way, which naturally puts her in the lower register. She believes it helps not only with talking to the cabin, but in talking to her fellow pilots on the fight deck, and to the tower as well. It’s gotten easier, she says, as she’s gotten older (when she just started out, her voice was much higher pitched).35 Te pilot’s higher status is also reifed in the repertoire of air travel, and rehearsed in the space of both the aircraft and the airport. Te passengers make way for the poised, crisply uniformed pilots and their retinue as they glide through security and the terminal with their roller bags. Pilots


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now often join the fight attendants in receiving passengers as they enter the plane from the jetway, the tiny threshold serving as a kind of ad hoc parlor. To put an even fner point on it, the pilots board before everyone else on the plane. Next come the active military personnel: servicemen and women. Tereafter, pending accommodation of any special-needs passengers, the plane is boarded by class, from highest to lowest. Te hierarchy delimited by the order in which one’s boarding pass determines her or his social status makes it clear who possesses the most cultural currency, the most puissance. Class and wealth are trumped by role, or, as it were, chain of command. In the heterotopia informed by Morshed’s aesthetics of ascension, then, the pilots and their crew are at the top of the chain of being. Swiss philosopher Alain de Botton captures a bit of this in A Week at the Airport, his experiential survey of Heathrow Terminal Five as the airport’s frst “writer in residence.” “I felt like a child unsure of his father’s afections,” he writes of his meeting with Senior First Ofcer Mike Norcock. “I realized that meeting pilots was doomed to escalate into an ever more humiliating experience for me, as the older I got, the more obvious it became that I would never be able to acquire the virtues that I so admired in them—their steadfastness, courage, decisiveness, logic and relevance. [ . . . ] a more impressive sort of existence than most of us will ever know.”36 Lastly, the aviators we associate with the kind of repertoiric pilot performance cemented in the middle of the second half of the twentieth century have been of a particular generation. In 1980, when the number of active commercial aviators peaked at 827,000, the senior pilots were “pilots of the Greatest Generation, born between 1901 and 1924, and the so-called Silent Generation, born between 1925 and 1945.” Since then, the number of active aviators has declined, not only because of cutbacks to personnel and fights in times of recession, but, as these older pilots have retired at age sixty, baby boomers and Gen Xers have found it more difcult and expensive to enter the profession.37 In other words, airplane talk was invented and disseminated through acts of transfer by the cool guys who modeled the dialects spoken by characters in the movies about World Wars I and II, and who probably served in those conficts themselves. Now, while many actual pilots may not be quick to confrm that they and their colleagues use a Chuck Yeager voice, they will admit that it is a trenchant assumption in popular culture. “Yeah, I don’t know where that came from,” pilot John Caplinger told me in a conversation at SeaTac

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International Airport. “Tat’s not my experience here in Seattle anyway.”38 I mentioned the Hollywood pilot voice to the pilot I met outside the security area at SeaTac. “Yeah,” he said, “and I know a number of pilots who speak like that,” but he doesn’t attribute the voice to any explicit source. “I think that’s just their personality.”39 As with the learned language of any social group, a meta-awareness of the particular patterns, lilts, or origins of accents is unnecessary, and therefore not often conscious. Nels Kristenson, a pilot who fies frefghting airplanes in Canada and Alaska during wildfre season, but who has also fown commercial passenger planes, described to me the way junior pilots pick up the cadence and dialect from their superiors on the fight deck: “Pilots come into the job as frst ofcers and they haven’t had much experience talking to passengers. Tey look to the captain, how they talk, how they handle themselves, and they emulate him, since there’s no formal training to speak of.”40 Afect theory would suggest that repertoires of pilot performance, as in any group, are transferred afectively, that is, through a kind of preverbal, preconscious communication that nevertheless can be just as frmly established in practice as verbal language. Amy Cook, drawing on the work of Elaine Hatfeld, John Cacioppo, and Richard Rapson, notes how emotion can be caught and spread, like a contagion, and can adapt and synchronize through social groups as easily as it adapts to an individual. Tis happens, she writes, not through any kind of “conscious attempt to refect or match the feelings of another but rather an automatic mirroring” of relational signals. “What this suggests,” says Cook, “is that we are not separate and contained individuals; we are porous and seeping. According to emotional contagion theory, we ‘synchronize facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, and movements with those of another person and, consequently [  .  .  .  ] converge emotionally.’”41 To apply this back to the Chuck Yeager theory of origin, or any theory maintaining a kind of identifable repertoiric performance of “pilot” for that matter, the voice, demeanor, delivery, timing, and, indeed, afect of the pilot may not ever be a conscious attempt to imitate, but always already a mirroring of relational signals of a community that has been converging emotionally for decades. To put this another way, pilots are not so much carriers of afect as nodes through which airplane talk is afectively transmitted. In the pilot’s world, you hang out with pilots, and, aspiring to be one yourself, you spend countless hours with them in instruction, fight hours, ground school, on-the-job training, and in the


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pilots’ lounge at airports. It’s picked up as a repertoire and sought after by employers as a “soft skill,” as one pilot I interviewed called it. In turn, it is transferred to the next generations of pilots. Educational researcher Kevin M. Corns, drawing on the work of educational theorist Etienne Wenger, identifes the commercial airline pilot demographic as a “community of practice,” a naturally evolving community, knit together by shared interests, existing alongside more formal administrative or corporate hierarchies.42 Communities of practice, writes Corns, allow adult learners to informally acquire necessary knowledge and skills that are not always explicitly taught by formal structures of training (in this case, ground school or company orientation). Corns fnds that the knowledge and skills shared by pilots in their community of practice are essential and even make up for gaps perceived by the FAA in formal structures of pilot training, because such learning is allowable only through “initiative, self-efcacy, love of learning, interest in the profession, and professionalism.”43 I would add that pilots’ community of practice includes not only colleagues, but also the aviators and otherwise authoritative fgures they admire and aspire to be like in society, history, and the media (e.g., Chuck Yeager, John Wayne, Gary Cooper, Tom Hanks, and so forth). Ecocritical scholar Wendy J. Arons invites us to look toward meme theory as we negotiate the future of theater historiography. We can speak of these facial expressions, vocalizations, postures, movements, and voice patterns as transferrable memes that, in Richard Dawkins’s terms, “propagate themselves by leaping from brain to brain via a process which, in the broad sense, can be called imitation.”44 Arons points out how Kate Distin has more recently suggested that the most adaptively advantaged memes not only survive through natural selection, but that they, in fact, create culture itself: “Culture [ . . . ] is ultimately the product of human minds, but the preservation of information in representational content ensures that the culture we encounter today is largely composed of memes produced by human minds of long ago.”45 If human culture comprises a preponderance of memes originating far back in time, it is not such a leap to think of today’s “airplane talk” as being a composition of memes produced in the Cold War nodes of the mid-twentieth century: military air force bases, fghter pilots, radio, television and movie westerns, commercial airliners, the grown-ups who fought in World War I, and fellow veterans of World War II and Korea. Te pilots I interviewed confrmed that the way they speak to passen-

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gers on the PA or in greeting them at the beginning or conclusion of a fight was not the result of formal instruction, but rather is something that they have simply acquired. As far as the commercial pilot’s confdence is concerned, there’s a certain natural selection that takes place at the point of hire. How-to manuals for prospective airline pilots, such as Airline Pilot Interviews: How You Can Succeed in Getting Hired, stress the importance of strong communication skills, a professional appearance, and above all, projecting “self confdence.”46 Best practices are inseparable from vocal presence and delivery. “You must sound clear, sincere, confdent, and credible. Often how you say something can be more important than what you have to say.”47 Another manual, Airline Pilot: Let the Pros Show You How to Launch Your Professional Piloting Career, recommends how prospective commercial pilots ought to carry themselves professionally in the interview: “positive and confdent without being cocky [ . . . ]. [N]ot too solemn. Let a little personality show and reveal your enthusiasm.”48 Dan Hagedorn, former chief curator at the Museum of Flight, credits successful job interviews with the confdence pilots are “charged” with conveying. “Frankly, when the airlines are hiring pilots, they’re not looking for timid milquetoasts. Tey want someone who can project confdence both in their persona and in their spoken word, because you got a guy up front who’s responsible for a couple two or three hundred people, they don’t want somebody coming across the PA system that doesn’t project that. And I think that’s what the public quite frankly demands [ . . . ]. At some level that has to do with that confdence that pilots have been charged with.”49 Tere is something to be said about airplane talk being transmitted through informal means, a skill to be “picked up” vs. formally learned. I asked the young pilot I interviewed at the SeaTac exit whether pilots get formal training in the actual manner in which they speak to and the words they use with passengers. “Not formal,” he answered. “It’s informal,” he continued, in that we have constant conversations about communication. But there’s no part of ground school, at least in my case, where they’re like “let’s talk about communications” directly from the pilot and the passenger perspective. I mean, we’re all professionals and we operate at a professional level and they expect us to be able to handle that. It’s kind of a soft skill that they would anticipate you bring to the table already.50


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John Caplinger describes the transfer in similar terms: “I think in my case it was picked up from experience and talking with people who have been doing it for a long time.”51 Scott Rosenberg says, “it’s generally just picked up along the way,” though he added that his company, Alaska Airlines, gives “maybe a little written guidance on just kinda how to get you started” when welcoming passengers aboard. “But other than that there isn’t really.”52 “Picking up,” here, is perhaps the closest we can get for now to pilots’ acknowledgement of an afective transfer of memes or of relational signals of community of practice. Te Hollywood Cold War cowboy pilot, in the manner of Chuck Yeager, is perhaps more rarely encountered these days due to generational shifts, budget cuts, natural attrition, and changes to the cast of authority fgures in the pilots’ community of practice, though his legacy continues in media and the pop culture imaginary. It’s not taken for granted anymore, either, that the pilots who shepherd us into our future need to be men. A recent study found that the astronauts for a mission to Mars should not be pulled from the ranks of top-gun fghter pilots, as were the astronauts from the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions. Rather, women are best suited for interplanetary fight because of their size, physiology, and metabolism.53 Astronaut Dottie Metcalf Lindenburger, who helped set a record for the number of women in space at a given time (four out of a possible ten people in 2010), looks forward to a day when gender balance on space fight missions and on space station crews is the norm— even while she rues that women astronauts engaged in work requiring extravehicular activity still need to wear space suits designed for men.54 Te afective atmosphere of air travel is slowly changing, too. In the past few years, commercial airlines have been doing more to inject some levity into the formal proceedings of air travel, and even the traditional conventions of commercial fight are sometimes the subject of ironic metacommentary. Safety information videos screened during takeof may include visual gags or surprises to lighten the mood (and to promote attention to the safety procedures, since passengers can tend to tune out).55 Flight attendants may mix up their scripted announcements with jokes (“Secure your own oxygen mask frst before assisting your child,” began an attendant on a Southwest fight to Chicago in January 2015. “If you have more than one child [pause], choose the one with the most potential.”56 In my experience, however, pilots for the most part still maintain the ofcial no-nonsense folksy decorum, casual but informative (leave the jokes to

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the fight attendants, seems to be the watchword. Passengers do not want their pilots to pull their leg.). By some accounts, too, the “mystique” once enjoyed by commercial pilots, as Nels Kristenson describes it, is rarer these days. “In the old days, a pilot could walk into a bar and walk out with anyone he wanted,” Kristenson told me. “Pilots were once revered. . . . Part of this was that it was so new, so diferent from anything else. Now that it’s become routinized, and fying is much more mundane, pilots don’t enjoy that same mystique, and people know what they actually make for a salary and they’re all of a sudden not as interesting!”57 In my conversation with “old timer” pilots who serve as docents at the Museum of Flight, it became apparent that the poise and bearing of commercial pilots who came up through the military is not found as often today. Whereas for much of the twentieth century, 80 percent of pilots had military training and 20 percent came up through civilian routes, the ratio has now completely reversed. Only 20 percent of pilots in the air have military backgrounds. As the military generation retires from fying, it’s being replaced by a corps of civilian pilots.58 Te efects are perceivable. During a long connection at Denver International Airport, I noticed a generational shift in some of the young frst ofcers I watched go by in the Gate A food court. I’d seen several older pilots with their trim suits and regal bearing, but there was one young copilot (identifable by the three stripes on his shoulders) who sauntered past, sunglasses perched atop his gelled hair, hands stufed in his pockets. Not long after that, a second one passed, again with shades pushed back on his head, an Adidas sport sack with string straps on his slouched back, right hand in his pocket and a bit of a gut hanging over his belt. I found myself in an ambivalent position: I had a quiet thrill recognizing that I was witnessing an in-process shift in expectations for commercial pilot appearance and comportment, even while I wrote about how those expectations came to be cemented. I was also stopped short by my own judgmental attitude regarding body shape, all of a sudden not much better than those I critique earlier in the book for complaining that women fight attendants are getting older and less attractive than they remember them to be from the good old days. Te folksy, relaxed “pilot voice” we associate with commercial airline pilots can be understood as a real phenomenon insofar as it is practiced and perceived by many members of the industry. Further, the pilot voice,


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whether it started with Chuck Yeager or with military airmen’s Texan brides and their families, endured and thrived over the decades, crossing military and private sectors, seemingly without explicit professional training or indeed formal acknowledgment. Finally, the pilot voice is part of a concomitant genealogy of military practices, namely the mobilization of commercial passengers to assist in the Cold War and the War on Terror, even if assistance means keeping calm and “saying something” when our fellow passengers act outside of the enforced template of behavior. In spite of the inspiring, feel-good nature of accounts of pilots such as the one above, they are predicated on a relationship between pilots and passengers defned by power and access to information. Te pilot shares or withholds information as a way of policing behavior. When information is shared with passengers, it is packaged in a way gauged to shape and delimit our responses. Changing the tone or delivery of updates on weather or the technical profciency of the aircraft, or framing the situation with airplane talk, keeps us complicit with our own naiveté. He knows what’s best. We’ll put our trust in him. To return to the theme of propaganda with which I began this essay, the pilot’s role, similar to that of all leadership in the military-industrial complex, is designed to convince us that it’s not our place to take action. As much as the TSA says it needs our help, our role as passenger is to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fight, to keep calm and carry on. Tis may be one of the oldest and most resilient memes of wartime and militarized cultures.


Inventing the American Astronaut In late January of 1986, my sixth-grade earth science teacher Mr. Rowe tuned in the classroom television set to the channel on which we would all watch the launch of the space shuttle Challenger. On board the shuttle was Christa McCaullife, the New Hampshire schoolteacher who’d been selected by NASA as the frst “payload specialist” for its Teacher in Space initiative. My classmates and I were excited to watch the live launch, and McCaullife’s address to students all across the country. To that point, astronauts had been near-mythical fgures, heroic adventurers boasting skills as space pilots, engineers, and scientists, and perfect specimens of strength and ftness. Here was a civilian astronaut, a symbolic reminder that NASA’s space program foregrounded science and knowledge as its goals. But McCaullife also symbolized an entry into the world of space travel previously closed to us sixth graders. If a regular schoolteacher could go up into orbit, we schlubs might someday have that same chance. Of course, just a little over a minute after launch, the Challenger broke up in an explosive cloud, and while we did not know exactly what was happening in those frst confusing minutes, the confrmation of the loss of the shuttle and its crew emerged over the rest of the day as rescue ships and divers scoured the ocean waves for the remains of the orbiter and crew compartment. For kids growing up in the 1980s, the Challenger disaster was a defning moment, comparable perhaps to the frst lunar landing for their parents, but a tragic media event more similar to the JFK assassination or the attacks of 9/11. NASA and the country recovered, and the space shuttle program continued through 2011, spanning nearly thirty years and weathering the Columbia disaster in 200 . For most of my life, the astronaut was a scientist, an engineer, a space-commuting construction worker building the International Space Station. Te astronaut was a celebrity, an educator, a hero braving the dangers of space travel. Science 71


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Fig. 6. Te explosion of the Space Shuttle Challenger, January, 1986. Photo: NASA.

and education were NASA’s raison d’être, and astronauts were our ambassadors to the cosmos. For those of my generation, the military origins of the American astronaut and the labor by which his existence was eventually justifed for a public unused to the idea is hard at frst to fathom (my gender-masculine pronoun, as in the last chapter, is intentional here, given the original astronaut’s gendered historicity, as will become clear in the following pages). By 1986, détente was already in the air: the Soviets were less of an enemy than even a few months before, and there was talk of drawdown of nuclear proliferation; the collapse of the Soviet Union, while at that point unimaginable, was fve years away. But without question, the origins of the United States’s space program were fundamentally tied up in the Cold War. NASA, while strategically designed as an ostensibly peaceful civilian enterprise from the start in 1958, had for its frst three decades been a paramilitary operation bent on a gentleman’s race against the Russians to reach the cosmos, but also a very real efort to command space as the next

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battlefeld. Key to the success of this efort, to both guarantee that the American people were on board and secure the necessary funding from Congress, was the American astronaut.1 It was important to produce and disseminate a specifc kind of astronaut fgure in American and world consciousness. Aside from height and age requirements, the astronaut needed, specifcally, to be an active-duty military test pilot—and therefore white and male2—cool and unfappable under pressure, and a model par excellence of American small-town values, which included being a patriot, a Protestant, and a family man. Te astronaut’s raced and gendered qualities and comportment were policed both through social grooming and the shaping of policies on and of the books by the legislative and executive branches of the government. In other words, delimiting the choice of the frst men destined for space and ensuring that the Mercury Seven (the group of astronauts chosen for the U.S.’s frst phase of manned space fight) hewed to the character description in the public eye necessitated specifc discursive and political actions. Tese labors to produce and disseminate the American astronaut were undertaken by NASA public relations, Life magazine, network television personalities such as Walter Cronkite (who reported live from all six manned Mercury launches for CBS), and the Mercury astronauts themselves. Te astronaut was a work of performance, from the Chuck Yeager–style drawl, as popular among space men as it was with fghter and commercial pilots, to the fghter-pilot cut of the silver pressure-suit. And along with these other pilots we can situate the astronaut in a larger trajectory of performances perceived by American audiences as appropriate for Cold War muscling for military might. Let me be clear. Te human element in the frst phase of NASA’s space program, Project Mercury, was unnecessary from an engineering point of view. For NASA engineers, the Mercury astronauts were required solely as test subjects to determine the human body’s resilience in response to the extremes of space travel, which could just as easily be gleaned from primates such as chimpanzees. Given that, in the engineers’ words, “the astronaut [had] been added to the system as a redundant component,”3 it becomes clear that the invention of the American astronaut was almost exclusively performative, and that he fulflled, if not the actual job of fying spaceships into orbit and eventually the moon, the vital narrative and propagandistic function of staging the American story of the United States’s prowess in this fnal frontier, with all the imperialist, exception-


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alist, expansionist, and patriarchal overtones attending to that metaphor. Cultural theorist Adnan Morshed coined the term “aesthetics of ascension” in 2004 to describe the public fascination since the beginning of the twentieth century with aviation and fight, a fascination that has not only driven the entertainment and tourism industries, but that conceives of the aviator as “New Man,” hero, and shepherd of society into the utopian future.4 But in 1958, the human specimen inside the Mercury capsules was, as far as NASA engineers were concerned, merely the next test subject after a rhesus monkey, a squirrel monkey, a chimpanzee, and a “breathing talking robot” had each been lobbed into brief spacefight in earlier phases of the program.5 Te astronauts were hardly the New Man aviators of Morshed’s aesthetics of ascension. Te rigorous testing that determined the frst seven Mercury astronauts at Lovelace Clinic in Albuquerque, and Wright Air Development Center in Dayton, based criteria for success on endurance and physical and psychological stamina under strenuous conditions (e.g., isolation and short bursts of up to 50 Gs of pressure and sustained lengths of time at 6 or 7 Gs). Te requirement for astronauts to be drawn from active-duty military test pilots, however, came down from President Eisenhower. Such pilots would have already committed to facing dangers in service of their country and would, conveniently, be ready for vetting and training immediately because they already had security clearances.6 As the story goes, repeated in both Tom Wolfe’s Te Right Stuf and memoirs by members of the Mercury Seven, the astronauts themselves quickly found that their skills as test pilots were unnecessary. “Te astronaut would not be expected to do anything,” writes Wolfe. “[H]e only had to be able to take it.”7 But the American astronaut was too political a subject to be merely “spam in the can,” or “chimpanzees,” as the test pilots back at Edwards Air Base waggishly referred to them.8 Te astronauts began an internal campaign to change the Mercury capsule’s navigation systems to allow the opportunity for manual control, however temporary, and even the look of the capsules, advocating for windows in addition to the tiny portholes and periscopes of the original designs.9 Tey also insisted on a modifcation to their training schedule to emphasize piloting skills.10 Te terms used were important as well. Te new American astronaut would fy his own “spacecraft” as opposed to riding in a “capsule.”11 I spoke with Dr. Adam Bruckner, professor of the William E. Boeing Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the University of Washington, who confrmed

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that the frst astronauts did not need the skills of a pilot. Tey were “not quite the independent space navigators [that] they seemed,” he told me, but nevertheless it was important that they be perceived as such, given the state of national anxiety. NASA needed “intrepid astronauts, bigger than life,”12 not only as a human element to secure funding, but internally to guarantee that the engineers concentrated on the utmost safety and reliability of the missions.13 We needed heroes, as he put it, and we got them, though “some were better actors than others.”14 NASA astronaut Captain Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, who few space shuttle missions in 2006 and 2008 to construct and repair the ISS, told me the same thing when I interviewed her for this book. From the beginning, she said, it was never really necessary that astronauts be pilots. Tat was the legacy, however, they needed to fulfll. Furthermore, they almost always came from the military due to the requirement of so many thousands of hours of jet fying. “But they never really needed to do any fying” on the Mercury missions, she said wryly. I asked her when the pilot requirement began to change. She told me that, toward the end of Apollo (NASA’s several-year moon program), NASA started adding what they called astronaut-scientists when it became clear that it was important to have botanists and specialists in other sciences. But it was really the advent of the shuttle program, she said, when mission specialists no longer needed to be pilots.15 As a matter of course, the frst astronauts needed to be male, in spite of NASA engineers’ early recommendations that females be used for the space program—not only because women’s lower body mass and metabolism were better suited for orbit and therefore much cheaper to get up into space, but because on the whole they were more patient and better team players.16 Te frst men scheduled to go into space were selected by the Air Force’s “Man in Space Soonest” program (MISS) and groomed as Cold Warriors. Tis team, announced in in June, 1958, included the heroic likes of Neil Armstrong, Joseph A. Walker, Scott Crossfeld, and Iven C. Kincheloe. Te MISS program was canceled only two months later with the invention of NASA as a nonmilitary organization, and the seven Mercury astronauts would go on to replace these men. Meanwhile, a group of potential women astronauts were tested at the Lovelace Clinic under the direct supervision of William Randolph Lovelace II, who oversaw the Mercury Seven testing, and 1 were found to be worthy astronauts. Tese women included Myrtle Cagle, Jerrie Cobb,


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Fig. 7. Full-length view of Jerrie Cobb posed standing beside a display model of a Mercury capsule; circa 196 . Smithsonian Institution Collection. Used with permission.

Janet Dietrich, Wally Funk, Sarah Gorelick, Janey Hart, Jean Hixson, Rhea Hurrle, Gene Nora Stumbough, Irene Leverton, Jerri Sloan, and Bernice Stedman, all of whom were initially admitted because of both peak physical condition and over 1,000 hours of fight time. Te group was later dubbed the Mercury Tirteen by flmmaker James Cross, and the name has stuck ever since, including as a title of a defn-

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itive history of the program, Te Mercury 13, Te Untold Story of Tirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight (200 ). When barred from consideration by the Eisenhower mandates that the Mercury Seven be drawn from the roster of active-duty military test pilots and be experienced in the cockpits of jet planes, fiers and astronaut hopefuls Jerrie Cobb and Jane Hart brought a discrimination case to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics on July 17 and 18, 1962. Te trial drew heavy media attention. Te cause was not helped by male astronauts John Glenn and Scott Carpenter, who testifed against the suitability of women on the grounds that they didn’t meet the jet experience requirements (and, Glenn added, because the reason women are “not in this feld is a fact of our social order”17). Because of the disparity in jet-fying experience between male and female candidates for astronaut, the subcommittee did not take further action. A closer look at the failure to prove gender discrimination in the subcommittee hearings may not be solely chalked up to male stonewalling, however. Several accounts describe the testimony of Jacqueline “Jackie” Cochran, a high-profle female aviator herself with a storied career as an air racer and pivotal role in establishing Women Airforce Service Pilot programs in World War II, which turned out to be damning. Cochran, a close friend of Lovelace, initially staunchly supported the testing and training of female astronauts, but later reversed her position when it became clear that she would not enjoy the same spotlight as the women eventually picked for space fight.18 Even in spite of the dead ends in the legal arena, the campaign to allow women astronauts gained momentum in the popular media as well, until an informal cease and desist came from Lyndon Johnson in the form of a letter to NASA administrator James Webb. On the face of it, the letter’s prose, drafted by the vice president’s assistant, Liz Carpenter, seems to be an exercise in antidiscrimination policy, composed shortly after Johnson’s conference with Hart and Cobb. “I’m sure you agree,” begins the letter, “that sex should not be a reason for disqualifying a candidate for orbital fight.” Te next paragraphs ask if Webb can think of any reason, beyond lack of military test fying experience and an engineering background, to disqualify any candidate for the space program for being a woman. But instead of a signature, Johnson scrawled “Let’s stop this, Now!” efectively putting an end to women’s shot at becoming astronauts for another couple of decades.19 Meanwhile, NASA’s publicity campaign, concomitant with the Senate


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space subcommittee hearings to secure funding for the Mercury program, was carefully crafted under NASA’s director of public information, Walter T. Bonney, to sell the idea of the astronaut, or “star voyager” (NASA’s term), to the media and the American public. Te Mercury Seven, Malcolm Scott Carpenter, Leroy Gordon Cooper, John Herschel Glenn Jr., Virgil Ivan (Gus) Grissom, Walter Marty (Wally) Schirra, Alan Bartlett Shepard Jr., and Donald Kent (Deke) Slayton, made their debut in civilian Sears & Roebuck mufti at a special press conference on April 9, 1959, at the Dolley Madison House, NASA’s Washington, DC, headquarters.20 NASA chief T. Keith Glennan introduced the seven, telling the 200 convened reporters that, having gone through some of the most rigorous testing ever conducted, these seven represented the fnest and fttest examples of “superb adaptability” for the job. Te frst two astronauts, to be chosen from the group on the day of their missions, would be launched atop Atlas intercontinental ballistic missiles into parabolic “lobs” into space, culminating in the third astronaut’s launch into two or three earth orbits. Following the success of these frst missions, successive astronauts would man longer orbital fights in preparation for permanent space laboratories, missions to the moon and back, and eventually interplanetary travel.21 In the Q and A that followed, the Mercury Seven felded inquiries from the convened reporters. Te press’s questions for the astronauts were decidedly humancentric, and tapped into philosophical and metaphysical areas vis-à-vis the potential dangers of the space missions. Te frst question: how did each man’s wife and children feel about this? To a person, each responded that his family was behind him 100 percent. What was his motivation? “A spirit of adventure  .  .  .  , a military sense of duty and patriotism.”22 Wally Schirra answered that it was a matter of pushing the limits of aviation further than the current limits. Fifty years of fying had reached the end of atmospheric navigation, and space presented “an expansion in a new dimension.” In Deke Slayton’s words, “[w]e have gone about as far along as we can go on this globe, and we have to go somewhere and space is all that is left.”23 Noticing that three of the seven were smoking, another reporter jokingly asked what they’d do for cigarettes up in space (this drew a lot of good-natured, sheepish laughs in the room). Another question: how did they feel about their safety? Te astronauts guaranteed that the space fights would be as safe as any test aircraft mission. What was their faith like? Tis question prompted each astronaut in turn to inventory his church attendance and religious background in various

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Protestant denominations. John Glenn detailed his regular worship as a Presbyterian and his role as a Sunday-school teacher and a leader in his congregation. When asked who fgured they’d be the frst man in space, all seven raised their hands, Glenn famously raising both. Te press conference was a success: reporters came away with the desired impression of the Seven as clean-cut heroes. Te New York Times reported that “[t]hey looked like a group of square-jawed, trim halfbacks, recruited from an All-America football team.”24 And NASA’s selected “astronaut” neologism was picked up without cynicism or irony, though the frst news reports referred to them as “space men” and “space pilots” about as often.25 Te astronaut needed to be a Protestant and a family man insofar as he stood as an exemplar of perceived American virtues, though the reality was a bit further from the profle. Wolfe’s foundational book Te Right Stuf (and Philip Kaufman’s 198 flm adaptation) and movies such as Tony Scott’s 1986 Top Gun26 capture the fghter jock M.O. as “fying & drinking and drinking & driving,” and Wolfe’s exposé of the astronaut wife’s code reveals a kind of blind eye to many of the Mercury Seven’s extramarital sexual exploits in Cocoa Beach while stationed in Cape Canaveral.27 NASA sought to protect the agency and the astronauts from negative publicity resulting from what historians John M. Logsdon and Roger D. Launius call their “sexual peccadilloes.”28 Gordon Cooper and his wife, Trudy, in fact, were separated by the time he was testing for the Mercury Program, but she returned for appearance’s sake at his request.29 Te small-town American family-man narrative was further perpetuated by the media. Te Mercury Seven’s contracts with NASA did not allow them to be paid to discuss the space missions,30 but they struck an exclusive deal through their publicist Leo DeOrsey with Life magazine to publish stories about their personal lives, for which they would split equally a sum of $500,000 (the astronauts’ salary was otherwise set at what they made as military test pilots). Te three years of Life articles, 111 in total, included stories ghostwritten for the astronauts and their wives in the frst person, and airbrushed photo spreads of the space men’s quality time at home and frolics on the beach. Te astronauts and NASA approved each story and reserved the right to eliminate any material they found objectionable. Tese were seven scrubbed-clean, God-fearing Protestant men, in the words of John Glenn’s ghostwriter. Te simulacral image of the astronauts and their families in the pages of Life magazine silenced the unsavory or


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awkward aspects of real-life experience, from the sexual exploits of the men on the wild Cocoa Beach scene to Annie Glenn’s stutter.31 Robert Sherrod wrote in the Columbia Journalism Review that the squeaky-clean image of the astronauts in Life’s features presented a “plasticized” version of their lives.32 Te multipronged efort in impression management paid of. In “View from the Bird Watch: Media, Memory, and America’s Mercury Astronauts,” Jennifer Rudeseal Carter argues that the “development of NASA’s powerful public afairs operation, combined with the tenacity of the print and broadcast reporters in a time of technological development,” crafted and contributed to a collective memory of Project Mercury that not only cemented the project’s international image, but “continues to shape current thinking and legislation on space issues.”33 Te April 9 press conference was followed by a photo shoot, with the astronauts smiling confdently in various poses with models of the Mercury rocket and capsule. Here, too, it was important for the Mercury Seven to convey the appropriate posture and countenance to reify their roles as cool and confdent space heroes. Te look and poise of this new fgure drew on a repertoire of visual signifers in circulation from photos of wartime fghter pilots and Cold War test pilots: frm jaw, confdent smile, a squinty far-away look as if the worldly tasks at hand were mere formalities to be endured en route to the heavens. Tis is not just readerreception theory: in his memoir Carrying the Fire, astronaut Michael Collins, who few on the Gemini and Apollo missions, describes the appealing impression the frst Mercury astronauts inculcated. “All of [the Mercury astronauts] came through as Gordon Goodguy, steely resolve mixed with robust muscular good humor, waiting crinkly-eyed for whatever ghastly hazards might be in store for them ‘up there.’”34 Collins recognized, however, the constructedness of the personae at the Dolley Madison house. One of the Air Force’s hopefuls for NASA Astronaut Group 2, which would supplement the Mercury astronauts for the eventual Gemini and Apollo missions, Collins described the rehearsals he and his fellow test pilots endured over two “indoctrination” seminars, promptly dubbed “charm school,” which the Air Force sponsored in Washington to make a favorable impression on NASA in its upcoming tests and interviews: We were told how to talk, dress, stand, and sit (wearing knee length-socks, of course, so no gross expanse of hairy leg intruded upon what ever Ph.D.’s in education think about, how to answer questions (not too long, not too short), how to drink at parties (long drink, make it last). . . .35

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But what Collins describes as the “apogee of the course” was a lesson on the proper way for the pilots to hold their hands on their hips, that is, with the thumbs to the rear, as thumbs-forward would be far too efeminate a posture for the American astronaut, resulting in “instant detection and rejection by NASA.”36 While clinical psychologists such as Miriam D. Blum have parsed the efcacy of hands on hips in conveying authority and confdence, which has been marshaled by political fgures since George Washington, Collins rightly points out the perhaps-too-strong stock placed on posture as a marker of masculinity, though he does a fair bit of his own gender policing in the process. “I have studied this matter extensively in later years,” he writes, “and have found burly construction workers with thumbs forward and mincing fairies with thumbs aft, but then they obviously are not charm-school grads.”37 Te confdent and authoritative look would not be complete without the supercool Navy Mark IV pressurized soft space suit,38 designed by Russell Colley, who aspired to be a women’s clothing designer until his parents insisted he pursue a career in engineering. Colley developed technology for the pressure suit, with its airtight life support envelope and liquid cooling systems, for the Army and Navy after the Korean War, and the jumpsuit cut was complemented by a futuristic silver skin for the Mercury astronauts. Te suits were manufactured by BF Goodrich for about $ ,750 each, a little over $26,000 to outft the whole Mercury Seven team. Architecture scholar Nicholas de Monchaux situates the silver Mercury space suit squarely within the trajectory in fashion and popular culture that drew generously from the comic books and silver zeppelins of the Jazz Age and adapted to the slick and coolly professional “New Look” suited to the Cold War. “[A]s the technology of powered fights opened higher and higher realms to mankind,” writes de Monchaux, “the spacesuit would stand as an icon of a transformed, exploring man.”39 In spite of the silvery material’s evocation of superhuman resilience to the dangers of space as imagined in 19 0s Flash Gordon serials, however, de Monchaux reveals that the Mercury pressure suit was nothing more than a standard high-altitude pressure suit to which a kind of silver lamé had been afxed by vacuum-blasted aluminum coating.40 Test pilot Scott Crossfeld wrote in his 1960 memoir that the silver skin was a fashion choice, meant to “look real good, like a space suit should—photogenic,” and that to “justify it technically” the David Clark Company, a maker of elastic male girdles that NASA contracted to develop the material, could tell the world “this silver material is specifcally designed to radiate heat or something.”41 For

Fig. 8. Gordon Cooper in Navy Mark IV Mercury Spacesuit. December 1962. NASA. Public domain.

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de Monchaux, whether the silver had any technical purpose was not as important as the way the look of the suit ofered the suggestion of human beings transcending the limits of human physiology. In a word, the astronaut would look the part of a “cyborg,” a term that frst appeared in print in the May 22, 1960, issue of the New York Times, describing the new view of the space man as “Man-Machine”—“human-and-then-some.”42 “For all its superhuman iconography, however,” writes Monchaux, “the twentieth-century spacesuit would never transform human biology.” Tis was not for the lack of trying, as evidenced by the origin of words like “bionic” and “cyborg” within NASA studies. Yet in “suiting” man to an environment defned by its hostility to him, the spacesuit itself would come to play a central role in the discussions of mankind made and remade by technology, earthly and, it sometimes seemed, divine. (24)

Now, space enthusiasts and historians might consider my analysis of the performativity of the American astronaut to be exceptionable. One might argue that even if it is true that the Mercury Seven were not originally conceived and presented as pilots, even if there is smoking-gun evidence that the frst several years of the space program were not only limited to men but that their manliness needed to be properly maintained and disseminated, and even if most of the astronauts in their real lives fell short of the simulacrum engineered for them in the media, one has to account for John Glenn, who to all appearances did seem to actually match the part created for him. Indeed the image of scrubbed-clean, patriotic space hero most closely matched the lived experience of Glenn, who in several accounts criticized his fellow astronauts for their misbehavior in Cocoa Beach and seemed to walk the talk. Michael Collins called Glenn “the best PR man in the bunch.”43 But even Glenn’s front is revealed at times to be a careful construction, as Erving Gofman would have it (Gofman famously arguing that, depending on the situation, a professional will assume a constructed front meant to assure confdence in his or her authority, even if he or she does not actually believe the words delivered to a patient, client, or audience member44). Interviews conducted with Glenn after his February 20 Mercury-Atlas 6 mission, the frst manned orbital space fight, include revealing moments when he had to remind himself to perform for the history books and the folks listening at home, and, as Tom Wolfe writes,


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Fig. 9. John Glenn orbiting Earth in Friendship 7. February 1962. NASA. Public domain.

“[h]e had been specifcally instructed to violate the Fighter Jock code of No Chatter . . . he was supposed to radio back every sight, every sensation, and otherwise give the taxpayers the juicy stuf they wanted to hear.”45 Five minutes into the launch, after the capsule had separated from the Atlas rocket and Friendship Seven (so named by Glenn’s children) began its orbital path, Glenn remembered his coaching and looked out his window at the Cape below, which, though he was 125 miles up, did not look tremendously diferent from the view 50,000 feet up in a fghter plane. Still, he had an audience. “Oh!” he exclaimed. “Tat view is tremendous!”46 “[I]t was an awkward thing,” reports Wolfe. “It seemed unnatural.”47 It is worth taking a closer look at the transcript of Mercury-Atlas 6, which records the communications between Glenn aboard Friendship Seven, and Alan Shepard, fellow Mercury astronaut and the designate to communicate directly with the capsule (the so-called Capsule Communicator or CAPCOM, representing the surgeons, technicians, and other experts in mission control) in the Mercury Control Center (MCC) on Cape Canaveral. All those involved on both ends of the communication

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demonstrate a bit of awkwardness balancing human repartee with not only the business of spacefight, but the frst ever manned, multiple-pass orbit of the planet. Tis becomes poignantly clear about 52 minutes into Glenn’s mission. As his capsule, Friendship Seven, is completing its frst orbit, Glenn and the team on the ground conduct once again the series of checks they’ve been running since prelaunch, including this time not only Glenn’s biometrics and general comfort and physical state in the weightlessness of space and the position and angle of Friendship Seven, but what Glenn can see out his window. CAPCOM:. . . . Shortly you may observe some lights down there. You want to take a check on that to your right? Over. Friendship Seven: Roger. I’m all set to see if I can’t get them in sight. CAPCOM: Roger. You do have your visor closed at this time. Over. Friendship Seven: Tis is afrmative. I had it open for a little while; it’s closed now. Cabin pressure is holding good shape. Over. CAPCOM: Roger, Z Cal is of. R Cal is coming through now. Friendship Seven: Roger. CAPCOM: Any symptoms of vertigo or nausea at all? Over. Friendship Seven: Negative, no symptoms whatsoever. I feel fne. Over. CAPCOM: Very well. (About eight seconds pass) CAPCOM: Roger. Your 150 VA inverter is 180 degrees. Looks like it’s doing pretty well. Friendship Seven: Roger. Looks like it is holding up fne. CAPCOM: R Cal is of.


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Friendship Seven: Roger. (At this point about thirteen seconds go by. Glenn tries out a joke.) Friendship Seven: Tat sure was a short day. CAPCOM: Say again, Friendship Seven. Friendship Seven: Tat was about the shortest day I’ve ever run into. CAPCOM: (getting it) Kinda passes rapidly, huh. Friendship Seven: Yes sir. CAPCOM: Fine.48 As this last back and forth might indicate, Glenn’s aw-shucks, folksy attitude about the whole business of space fight takes a couple of tries to get past a bit of performative infelicity. In efect, choppy radio transmissions notwithstanding, Glenn’s performance of the cool astronaut persona misfres as the recipients, Shepard and the technicians and surgeons in the Mercury Control Center, scramble to catch up with his script. In fact, on the longer missions to follow, the dialogue between the space men and the MCC became more regimented as script to allow for the more human utterances to retain their performative power of cementing the poetic and cultural importance of the missions. Most famously, these prescripted bits of dialogue accompany important milestones, such as Neil Armstrong’s “One small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” on being the frst to step of the lunar lander onto the moon’s surface. Michael Collins corroborates the idea that there is a tendency on the part of astronauts to have a kind of meta-awareness of behavior and speech during space missions. Tat is, what they say and do comprises not only the necessary tasks and utterances to complete the job, but the selected and rehearsed aspects of speech, gesture, and posture that perform “astronaut” for those watching live and those watching in perpetuity. In some of these cases, the performed narrative is even composed long in advance by scriptwriters with an eye for metaphor and appropriate poetic voice, regardless of whether it matches the lived reality of the astronaut strapped into a tiny metal air bubble hurtling through the inhospitable

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blackness of space. Collins’s case in point from his own career in space is the awkward telephone conversation between President Richard Nixon and the crew of Apollo 11 on July 20, 1969, a work of political dramaturgy in the face of plummeting faith in heroism and humanity with the war in Vietnam. Nixon addressed the astronauts on the moon’s surface, Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin, while Collins orbited above in the command module Columbia. “As you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our eforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth,” said Nixon to the Apollo astronauts.49 Collins maintained an attitude of hearty irony as the president spoke these words. “My God,” he writes in Carrying the Fire, “I never thought of all this bringing peace and tranquility to anyone. As far as I am concerned, this voyage is fraught with hazards for the three of us—and especially two of us—and that is about as far as I have gotten in my mind thinking.”50 Collins’s wry cynicism about the staginess of the prepared dialogue is echoed in his description of the correspondence prepared for him during his time in the State Department following his stint as an astronaut. “Who knows,” he wonders, “historians may yet record this as the Bullshit Era.”51 Did the impression managing matter? Perhaps the most important and lasting efects of the performed look, physicality, gesture, posture, and persona of the astronauts has been the way the Cold War space race has been performatively narrated, that is, in the historiographic procedures that have cemented American astronauts as victors because of their genealogy, character, provenance, and supporting casts. Certainly, the narrative of the space race is far more contestable than I had been led to believe as a nonspecialist American citizen, and what I have since found to be reifed in Hollywood depictions of the U.S. Space Program, at commemorative sites associated with aviation and space history, and in museums dedicated in whole or in part to space fight (the Museum of Flight in Seattle; the Neil Armstrong Museum in Wapakoneta, Ohio; the Air Force Museum in Dayton; the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and its annex site the Udvar-Hazy Center in Chantilly, Virginia; the Kennedy Space Center in Florida; the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon; etc.). Te American version of the space race in these sites and cultural productions is that we won, and we won because of our unique values, morals, determination, and entrepreneurial spirit as Americans. On the fip side, the Soviets lost because they valued political tenets, technological dominance, and global


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pride of place over the lives of their citizens. One of the panels in the space race exhibit at the Armstrong Air and Space Museum in Ohio, titled “Soviets: Falling Behind,” puts it like this: Political indecision, interference, and bureaucratic rivalries hindered the Soviet planning eforts over the years. Te Russian space program—paid for completely by their government—seldom had enough fnancial support. America’s many private industrial contractors provided NASA with new technology. Tis free enterprise system didn’t exist in the U.S.S.R.52

In other words, we won because of capitalism. Te Russians may have been frst in space with cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s orbital fight on April 12, 1961, an unfortunate and disappointing bump on the road to success, but we were the frst to send humans in circumlunar orbit and the frst to land humans on the moon. Te Russian version of the space race, however, is that they won handily, over and over again: the Russians were frst to put an object in orbit, frst to put a man in space, frst to put a man in orbit, and frst to put a woman in orbit. Tey were frst to put two cosmonauts into orbit at the same time, fying in formation. Te Russians were frst to send an object to the moon and to take pictures of the far side. Tey were doing fybys of the moon at the same time we were, and in 1968 were the frst to send life forms into lunar orbit and safely back again (tortoises and other animals and plants). Te U.S. was humiliated time and again. “Tis is a track meet not just a race,” Gordon Cooper told the New York Times in December 1959, when asked about fears that the Russians would beat the Americans to space. “You have to win a lot of events to win the meet.”53 Glenn, upon hearing of Gagarin’s successful orbital fight, told reporters ruefully, “Well, they just beat the pants of us, that’s all, and there’s no use kidding ourselves about that. But now that the space age has begun, there’s going to be plenty of work for everybody.”54 Still, American narratives have been able to rhetorically bend the criteria for winning. We efectively declared the space race over and our unqualifed victory only when we fnally landed astronauts on the moon and brought them safely back to earth. Naysayers, like those who composed the museum panels at the Neil Armstrong Museum, may take issue with this reading, and protest that the Soviets were far less interested in safety, placing propaganda ahead

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of human life. Unofcial reports, for instance, suggest that at least eleven cosmonauts died in Soviet space missions in the race to the moon. We only lost three astronauts, Guss Grissom, Edward H. White, and Roger B. Chafee, who died on the launch pad during prefight testing for the Apollo 1 mission. But a larger look at history, one that uses a yardstick that includes nonastronaut American lives, reveals estimates of a far greater cost: workers and engineers exposed to harsh chemicals and dangerous, rushed working conditions, dozens who sufered cardiac arrest because of overextension and long hours, and so forth. Boeing historian Mike Lombardi puts the fgure of deaths associated with NASA’s Apollo program in the thousands, which includes “all the people hauled away [from the worksite] on ambulances” (two a day in peak periods between 196 and 1972), and all the people who got cancer and heart and lung disease.”55 I witnessed the last gasp of the American shuttle program from my vantage point, appropriately enough, in an airport in the Midwest. As I disembarked from my plane into the quotidian terminal of Quad Cities International in Moline, Illinois, in the winter of 200 , the television screens were showing the cycling footage of the space shuttle Columbia disaster. Te orbiter burst into fames upon reentry, the result of its heat shield being damaged by foam debris during liftof, and Columbia’s seven crew members were killed as the craft disintegrated over Texas and Louisiana. Here was that little sixth-grader, now grown up and part of the fying class, a modern citizen privileged with a view from above the world only moments before, who had only to look up from the gate area to see the fery breakup of America’s space prowess. Te shuttle program was suspended for two years, but its end was clear. With the shuttering of the STS program, however, came a new age of transnational space travel where astronauts of all countries, including paying space tourists, the focus of the next chapter, could lift of in Soyuz rockets operated by the Russian Space Agency to get up to the International Space Station. But astronauts still loom large in the American popular imagination. As John F. Kennedy invoked the American frontier metaphor for Americans to wrap their heads around getting to the moon, so President Barack Obama in his last State of the Union address in January 2016 invoked the Apollo mission as a metaphor for the much more terrestrial challenges ahead, such as defeating cancer. And Donald Trump has doubled down on his own awkward call for a “space force.” Spring 2016 marked the coming home of Scott Kelly, the NASA astronaut longest in space, a consecutive


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40 days. His astronautical feat has been measured in hours, sunrises and sunsets, images posted to social media, and the countless long sessions on the treadmill to combat muscle atrophy. Perhaps Kelly’s most notorious moment of his year in space was sneaking a gorilla costume aboard the space station and donning it for the cameras. A carnivalesque media moment to combat the workaday drudgery of space labor on the one hand, but on the other, a winking reminder that astronauts are still just a couple steps ahead of our simian predecessors in space.


The Space Tourist a ne w ne w theorY of the Leisure CL a s s

“Would You Want to Be a Space Tourist?” Te question has been asked before. I’m quoting it from the headline of a New York Times blog by Michael Gonchar, published the week after the test-fight crash of Virgin Galactic’s commercial craft SpaceshipTwo, killing pilot Michael Alsbury, in October 2014.1 While Gonchar’s query was posed provocatively in the face of a tragic and very public setback to entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson’s plans to help privatize space travel and make it accessible to more than just professional astronauts and lucky millionaires who can buy their way onto a spacefight, I can’t think of a better question to ask as a way to establish the stakes of my own inquiry in this chapter into the performance of space tourism, which at the time of this writing seems very near to becoming a sustained reality. Space-tourist fights managed by Eric Anderson’s SpaceAdventures company, which for a time was sending “private astronauts” up to the International Space Station on the Russian Space Agency’s Soyuz orbiters, have been on hold since 2009. NASA’s space shuttle program was discontinued not long after the Columbia disaster in 200 , and the global recession had a dampening efect on the space industry. Of late, however, with the corporate aerospace industry boom and the development of space planes and reusable booster rockets, there’s been an explosion of plans for private spacefight. Virgin Galactic, in spite of the SpaceshipTwo crash, continues to presell hundreds of tickets for suborbital trips,2 and, while Amazon founder Jef Bezos’s Blue Origin didn’t get customers to space by 2018 as they’d originally announced, they are fxing to do so very soon. In March 2017, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, which already had plans underway for passenger spacecraft to Mars within a decade, was also a bit premature when the organization announced it would send two unnamed 91


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passengers around the moon and back on their Dragon V2 spacecraft by the end of the following year.3 I join a long and fascinating conversation about tourist performance, broadly conceived. I look to performance-studies scholars such as Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, who notes a global change in the leisure industry to ofer more immersive, performative, and participatory experiences,4 and cultural theorists such as Dean MacCannell, who argues in his foundational Te Tourist: A New Teory of the Leisure Class that sites, attractions, and experiences motivate the touristic imagination by ofering penetrations through layers of Gofmanian “front regions” that have alienated us from the “real” since the Industrial Revolution.5 Tourism scholars such as John Urry have since diagnosed the “post tourist,” one who is more kitsch-savvy and role-distanced than McCannell’s authenticity-seeker.6 Space tourists, however, may not ft efciently into any of these trajectories. Not quite site-seer sight-seer, not quite professional astronaut, they are at once niche-market conspicuous consumers and fnal frontier pilgrims. Spacefight is not a journey deeper into an inner sanctum of lost authenticity, per se, but rather a punching out into the unknown. As part of the larger lines of fight narratives of human fiers, space tourists too are an outgrowth of Adnan Morshed’s aesthetics of ascension, a fgure at the furthest edge of human reach, representative of the “new man” who will usher us into a utopian future, while ofering a general upgrade in human consciousness brought about by a newer, higher, faster perspective from on high.7 Space tourists themselves articulate their own motivations for pursuing their dream of spacefight. Before I get much further, it should be said that some of these individuals chafe at the term “tourist,” preferring “private space traveler” or simply “astronaut.” Organizations such as the Commercial Spacefight Federation substitute “personal spacefight” for “space tourism.” NASA calls space tourists “spacefight participants,” a designation they also gave Teacher in Space Christa McAulife, and that they may have used for the frst “Artist in Space” had that program not been scrapped in the 1980s while still in the idea phase. I argue that the negative associations of the term “tourist” are with unproductive leisure on the one hand, which “participant” and even “traveler” avoid, and with amateurism and naiveté on the other, which “astronaut” can counteract because it also denotes a profession. To be sure, at this point any description of the general characteristics of space tourists will be based on a small group. Only seven paid their way

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to the International Space Station on an orbiter in the frst decade of the twenty-frst century (Dennis Tito, Mark Shuttleworth, Gregory Olsen, Anousheh Ansari, Charles Simonyi [twice], Richard Garriott, and Guy Laliberté), and none have experienced a personal suborbital fight such as Virgin Galactic and SpaceX will ofer. Moreover, like all space travelers, space tourists’ bearing, disposition, and spoken and written accounts are not nearly autonomous, but rather careful, collaborative, and performative constructions mediated by space-program public relations and the governments that oversee them. Nevertheless, taking a closer look at particular space tourists can give a sense of how they and others perceive their role and even their obligations during a mission. Space tourists have gone on record, as have traditional astronauts, as having experienced a mind-expanding new perspective from on high, just as Adnan Morshed argues was expected by early-twentieth-century adherents of the aesthetics of ascension. From the distance and vantage point of space, the narrative goes, earth is suddenly revealed in a very different light. As Gibson Dirk writes in an evaluative study for Commercial Space Tourism, [T]hose who have traveled to low Earth orbit and beyond [ . . . ] often speak of the perspective one gains from traveling to space. Astronauts speak of not truly understanding how fragile our protection is from the hazards of space until they can see the thin blue line of the atmosphere from above. Astronauts also speak to the realization that one truly [cannot] distinguish political boundaries from space. To an astronaut, the inhabitants below are not Americans or Australians or Africans, they are Earthlings and we are all one.8

Space physics scholar Erika Harnett, coauthor of Space and Space Travel, indicated when I interviewed her that from what she’s seen and her interactions with participants such as Charles Simonyi, the space tourists have had a kind of revelation viewing earth from above. “Tey’ve seen how thin the atmosphere is, how thin the boundaries are. How fragile the system is. It removes that person from being self-oriented.”9 Wealthy Iranian-American businesswoman and telecommunications engineer Anousheh Ansari, for instance, was able to set up her sleeping bag next to a large ISS porthole through which she could gaze down at the earth free of political borders. “[T]here is no trouble, from this vantage


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point,” she says in the 2010 documentary Space Tourists, by Swiss flmmaker Christian Frei, “just pure, pure peace and beauty.”10 Hungarianborn billionaire Charles Simonyi, on the other hand, reaches for theatrical metaphors to describe how his own spacefights defamiliarized his habitual way of seeing. “Approaching the space station, that was incredible,” Simonyi told the Seattle Times. “I described it as being in this stage set, very theatrical, very unreal. You know when you are in theater there is this business about suspension of disbelief. You know you are in a theater, the lighting, everything else, it evokes the feeling. When you approach the space station it looks like theater. It looks like a stage set, with incredible lighting. It’s very unusual.”11 Space tourists also need to pull their weight (at least, metaphorically speaking) as members of the fight crew, and must undergo the same safety and skill training as their traditional astronaut colleagues. Tey also conduct their own scientifc experiments while on board the space station. Simonyi has studied the efects of radiation on the body, and Ansari has researched efects of weightlessness on lower back pain. South African entrepreneur Mike Shuttleworth participated in AIDS and genome research. Guy Laliberté, the founder of Cirque du Soleil, dedicated his spacefight to the studying and raising awareness of water issues on earth. Such sentiments nuance my own initial framing of space tourists playing astronauts in an expensive immersive touristic experience, as Kirshenblatt-Gimblett might have it, or engaging in a kind of Shechnerian restored behavior, playing out through reperformance earlier astronautic experiences or the anticipatory utopian pop culture representations of space tourism of the future. (Tink, for example, of the sequence early in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey I described in the introduction, in which Dr. Heywood Floyd’s Pan Am space plane waltzes with a gently revolving space station in low earth orbit while he naps, or Sir Richard Branson’s luxuriating foat in his 2012 Virgin Mobile commercial.12) Instead, it is possible to suggest that space tourism can be seen, as performance scholar Michael Bowman provocatively suggests, as Performance as Research, in which tourists produce meaning through engagement with the attraction or experience.13 My work as a researcher draws on a combination of archival and feld research (I call it “performative historiography”), so I wanted to see if I could draw out further nuances for this part of the book by experiencing space tourism as a participant observer. I’m not independently wealthy

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enough to book a spacefight with SpaceX or Virgin Galactic, and even if I were, it seemed unlikely that my number would be drawn before my manuscript was due. So I decided, with some help from a generous research award from the American Society for Teatre Research, to try the closest thing to near-earth-orbit space tourism: a Zero-G fight in the atmosphere over northern California. Te Zero Gravity Corporation, or Zero-G, ofers adventure tourists and air-and-space enthusiasts the experience of weightlessness. Founded in 2004, Zero-G has made a business of taking participants into the atmosphere aboard the nearly empty fuselage of a modifed 727 jet and plunging them over several aerobatic parabolas so that they experience the efects of free-fall. Since NASA canceled its own microgravity program in 2014,14 Zero-G is the only U.S. company that ofers paying private customers the chance to play astronaut. Zero-G also now contracts with researchers (including NASA) to provide a weightless lab space for experiments, and partners with museums and schools to ofer weightless classrooms. Zero-G plays up its educational aspects, dressing participants in spacestation-style outfts, and peppering its website with famous-thinker clients such as Stephen Hawking, a valence toward education in marketing that may cover for an antitheatrical anxiety haunting Zero-G’s main purpose as a purveyor of entertainment. After all, the company’s regular business is ofering high-end thrill rides to adventure tourists, but Zero-G and reduced gravity companies abroad also rent out fights to the entertainment industry for feature flms (such as Te Mummy15) and music videos (OK Go’s “Upside Down Inside Out”16), swimsuit model shoots (such as Kate Upton for Sports Illustrated), and fragrance commercials (such as for Justin Bieber’s “Someday”). My goal for this tourist experience was to try to cut through the educational spin Zero-G puts on its programming to recover its performance practices as part of the emerging industry of space tourism. But what I also found is that reduced-gravity fight pushes the envelope (a phrase from early attempts at space fight) in a few diferent ways. It stretches the limits of human performance by inviting participants to simulate astronauts without the usual constraints of gravity seemingly plaguing our mortal coils on earth. It also points to the very ways by which our ideas of performance on stage and in the practice of everyday life are fundamentally shaped by gravity and the desire to defy it. And so, after a brief but requisite history of reduced-gravity fights, I’ll bring my own


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experience as a space tourist to bear on this chapter and ofer further thoughts on how it allowed me to fnd a few new spins on the age-old topic of theater and performance. Beginning in 1950, reduced-gravity aircraft have been used for spaceprogram training by both the United States and the Soviets to learn about the efects of reduced gravity on living and nonliving things. Dubbed “Te Vomit Comet” because of the experience’s tendency to induce nausea, discomfort, and vomiting by upending the usual relationships between perception of space and humans’ complicated bodily system of balance controlled by the inner ear—coupled with the physiological efects of panic—American astronauts have used reduced-gravity aircraft since training for the frst Mercury missions described in the previous chapter. In addition to current American and Russian programs, reduced-gravity aircraft are funded by the governments of Canada, Ecuador, and France, though not all these aircraft carry human payloads. And once it took over for NASA, Zero-G is the only program not underwritten by a government agency. According to its website, “Te experience ofered by ZERO-G is the only commercial opportunity on Earth for individuals to experience true ‘weightlessness’ without going to space.”17 Notice the scare quotes around “weightlessness,” above, introducing into the otherwise ontological claim “true ‘weightlessness’” a paradoxical ambivalence. “True ‘weightlessness’” is neither true nor actual weightlessness, but it promises fdelity in simulation to the physiological afects felt by astronauts in near-earth orbit through the same physics, just inside the envelope of Earth’s gravitational pull. In essence this means that the free fall is real but not sustainable without being quickly pulled back to the surface of earth, rather than continually missing the surface as does a spacecraft or satellite in orbit. Te quotes also signify, however, that the humans who experience the sensation of weightlessness actually do have weight, it’s just that the weight is not meeting any resistance to remind them that it’s there. In other words, your weight is simply falling toward earth at the same velocity as the air and the container around you. You haven’t escaped the gravitational pull of earth’s mass on your mass (“Gravity is an illusion,” intones then-NASA artist-in-residence Laurie Anderson in her culminating performance End of the Moon. “A trick of the eye.”18). Furthermore, the reduced-gravity aircraft fies in a parabolic ballistic arc that resembles free fall, but is actually fying at a steep downward angle. Te jet engines are running, because thrust is needed to compensate for

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drag as the plane pulls itself downward through the atmosphere. Tus, to quote the website again, a Zero-G fight is “Not a simulation in any way” only insofar as it approximates the same simulation of weightlessness that astronauts experience in near-earth orbit, or of reduced weight in its warm-up parabolas approximating Martian and lunar gravity.19 It is a “Real” experience of a sensation that’s not actually real, then: just a modifed perception that happens with a shift in one’s position and velocity in relation to the massive body in space to which you’re closest. I participated in a Zero-G experience in February 2018. Five thousand dollars20 purchases an orientation, two physician-approved meals, a space jumpsuit and some other swag items such as a commemorative tote bag, a ninety-minute fight aboard G-Force One, Zero-G’s modifed 727 jet aircraft,21 and postfight programming including photo ops and refreshments; it’s about a fve-hour experience altogether. Te time we spent in the air with takeof and landing included fourteen aerobatic parabolas, one at simulated Mars gravity (. 76 G), one lunar (.16 G), and twelve at zero G. I was a bit nervous. I don’t particularly pretend to have the right stuf. I get vertigo in the crooked house at amusement parks. I imagined careening around pell-mell and projectile vomiting in grand arcs across the interior of the fuselage and my fellow space tourists. But my concern was largely unfounded. Zero-G tries to minimize instances of airsickness with some best practices. We were advised not to drink alcohol the night preceding the fight, and to avoid foods beforehand that include a lot of protein or dairy. We were also told that we won’t have as extreme of a zero-G experience as passengers aboard professional reduced-gravity fights such as personnel associated with space programs. Tese tend to do around thirty or forty parabolas in a fight. And even then, only about a third of them get violently ill, reports John Yaniec, lead test director for NASA’s Reduced Gravity Program when he was interviewed in 1999 for It’s actually anxiety that contributes the most to airsickness, explains Yaniec, so the practices intended to mitigate vomiting in large part have to do with easing passengers’ panic triggers.22  Some of my fellow passengers played it extra safe with over-the-counter antinausea pills or patches. From the start, the experience was staged with attention to dramaturgy. Te structure of the event hewed to a narrative that would be familiar to ethnographers Arnold Van Gennep and anthropologist Victor


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Turner. We were treated like initiands in a rite of passage. Our special status was marked at the designated meeting place, a conference room at a hotel near the San Jose airport, by our donning appropriate coverall fight-suit costumes that nodded to ISS and space shuttle astronauts. Our name badges were already attached to our suits when we got them, but for frst-timers23 they were notably Velcroed upside down, signifying our neophyte condition, where they would remain until the end of the ritual. Once dressed and oriented, we passed through a portable X-ray scanner and boarded a bus. From here on out we would be in secure space, just as if we had passed through security check at an airport terminal, but the bus brought us from our hotel directly to the G-Force One at San Jose airport through a secure gate, and we disembarked onto the exposed tarmac, neither in the airport building nor in the plane, vulnerable and liminal, betwixt and between. After a group photo, we boarded the 727 through the rear hatch under the tail, a transition into the belly of the beast, though it’s worth noting here that we needed to dutifully follow the more normative commercial fight protocols, such as presenting our special boarding passes on entry, fnding our seats in the back of the plane and our safety belts, and listening attentively to the fight attendants giving us our safety demonstration. Shortly after takeof, once we reached cruising altitude, we fled out of our seats and lay down on the padded foor of the long fuselage chamber. Te plane executed its frst two warm-up parabolas, simulated Mars and simulated lunar, and we were encouraged to try doing small bounces and pushups to feel the diferent sensations of reduced gravity. Ten we did our frst zero-G parabola. As with the frst two, as we powerfully climbed at our steep upward angle, I tried lifting my arms at my sides, only to have them yanked back down by the 1.8 G’s worth of force. I was nearly twice as heavy, as if I weighed 400 pounds on the ground. Ten we went over the top of the parabola. All at once, the extra weight fell away from my body from all sides, and my stomach, which mostly rests heavily atop my guts like a snug toad in my pelvic cradle, similarly became weightless, as happens momentarily on a roller-coaster or over a quick hill in a car ride, but the sensation stayed. I gently pushed up with my fngers (we were told not to leap—even though we were weightless, Newton’s third law dictated that we could get hurt crashing into the sides of the plane or other foating people). I fgured I would levitate straight up, parallel to the foor, but hadn’t banked on my

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Fig. 10. Te author. Zero G Flight. San Jose, February 2018. Photo by Al Powers/ Zero Gravity Corporation (Zero-G). Used with permission.

hands, at my sides just below my hips, not being at the center of my own gravity. Te top halves of human beings have more mass, so my gentle push sent me, rather, into a lazy backward fip, legs frst, and my feet wound up on the ceiling. Not that I realized it at frst: the directions “up” and “down” vanished as suddenly as my weight, and the world became a loud tumble of bodies against the space-age white contours of the fuselage interior. It wasn’t like swimming underwater, where even if I closed my eyes I could tell which way it was to the surface and which to the depths below. Nor would swimming actually move me through the space, except maybe by starting me gently rotating. It wasn’t like being upside down on a roller-coaster, where the frm shoulder bars keep you pinned in your car.


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Tere was no efort required to move my limbs or head or to twist or fold my trunk, and neither did I meet resistance except for the screaming bodies that spun and bumped and contorted around me. It was exhilarating (from the root word meaning joy, hilarity). Ten, seemingly as quickly as it started, our coaches yelled “Feet down, coming out!” and we needed to somehow orient our lower extremities toward what had been the foor twenty or thirty seconds earlier, lest we come crashing back down on our heads or necks. Te next seconds yanked us roughly out of the air to land in a scattered pile, limbs all over, breath panting and hearts racing. And a few moments later we began the next climb. In the subsequent parabolas I quickly learned to get my bearings with the landmarks of the GoPro cameras mounted on the sides of the interior, which I used to mark which way the front and rear were, and the strip of bright white lights diferentiated for me the white padded ceiling from the white padded foor. Figuring out how to orient myself and how I could, albeit clumsily, correct my topsy-turvy trajectories allowed me to try out some loop the loops, barrel rolls, ceiling walking, hamster wheels, and other tricks our coaches helped us brainstorm. On the last three parabolas, we tried and failed to catch in our mouths foating candy or globs of water launched by our eminently poised and in-control weightless coaches. I asked my own coach, Karen, whether if we yelled “encore” together we could get a thirteenth zero-G parabola. Sadly, no, she apologized. For our denouement, then, we got back in our seats, landed back at the San Jose airport, and fled out of the rear of the plane one by one, where we had our name badges ceremonially fipped and were handed our zero-G certifcates, marking us as numbered forever among a special elite. I didn’t throw up (though some of my fellow passengers reported nausea and one needed to use his airsick bag), and in fact had experienced a fantastic, sustained, addictive, adrenaline-fueled rush. But when I got back to my hotel afterward, I dropped onto my bed and fell dead asleep in my clothes for about forty-fve minutes. When I woke I was parched. Te inside of my mouth felt like it had been dried out with a leaf blower. My arms, legs, and head throbbed with heaviness, and I felt the blood vessels thump against the backs of my eyes. My space hangover, as I decided it was, felt decidedly better after a maiden trip to the nearby In-N-Out Burger, but it would take another three days before I felt like I had the spring back in my step.

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Like my fellow passengers, my postfight discomfort was all the more afectively intense in relation to the “true ‘weightlessness’” I’d experienced just hours before. My discomfort reminds me that as an earthbound human, every mountaintop experience can only exist in relation to its opposite, coming back down. Nostalgia for the moment of the sublime, of ravishment, of course, is what reifes the mountaintop as special. Te word “nostalgia” actually comes from Swiss physician Johannes Hofer’s medical diagnosis for soldiers from the mountainous regions of Switzerland, who experienced physiological and emotional discomfort when deployed to theaters of war in the lowlands of Europe.24 Tis brings me to an analysis of how my performance of astronaut, outside of the narrative template imposed on it by the Turnerian staging, was more somatic and afective than mimetic or representational, and the criterion for its success is to be found not only in the spatial relationship of my body to a sequence of diferent and fuctuating altitudes in relation to my quotidian positionality on the surface of the earth, but on my physiological sensations of mass relative to the resistance around me. Is this an original new entry in performance theory discourse? Maybe not quite, depending on where one looks. For the past hundred years, modernism in art has been deliberately marking and playing against weight, friction, and resistance, from the contorted dance choreography of Martha Graham to the gyroscopes in our cell phones that make our apps feel a bit more real in our hands. Critical theory has likewise turned its attention to labor and its commodifcation and exploitation, and with the work of Arlie Russell Hochschild and her contemporaries, now to emotional and afective labor, as performed by service workers such as fight attendants. In an age of mechanical reproduction, but also heavier-thanair fight, a new criterion for authenticity concretized around the fetishization of the hand-made, artisanal, and solid. Te willowy and ethereal bodies of ballet dancers and runway models were answered with the built muscular body, bearing reference to the weights they had rigorously and laboriously pushed against daily for many hours. At the same time, as dance scholar Jessica Berson argues in Te Naked Result, the promise of “Starbuckifed” neoliberal success is a guarantee that enduring enough labor and resistance will be rewarded by experiences of ease, of “relief” or rising up25—relief is from the same root, by the way, as the one from which we get “levitate.” But weightlessness has always made for bad art. Gravitas is essential


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for our empathy, our afective “feeling with” a character.26 Traditionally, gravity has connoted profundity, heaviness, and deadly seriousness, as in a “grave.” With the modern era, gravity has also come to signify an attraction, a force, a mutual draw between objects that is difcult to escape. We need this stuf for meaning and stakes. In the Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera condemns representation that arrogantly presumes to deny the existence of oppression, of abjection, of flth. “Kitsch,” Kundera writes, “is the absolute denial of shit, in both the literal and the fgurative senses of the word; kitsch excludes everything from its purview which is essentially unacceptable in human existence.”27 Kitsch is the commercial Broadway musical number that allows us the heights of emotional investment calculated to deliver maximum exhilaration. To paraphrase Kundera, we shed a tear when Elfaba is “gonna try defying gravity” in Wicked, then another tear when we think of how lovely it is to be so moved together with the rest of the audience. It is the second tear that makes kitsch kitsch. A slickly packaged adventure tourism experience and instance of crass conspicuous consumption, Zero-G, by Kundera’s measuring stick, becomes the denial of shit. In a manner of speaking, gravity-free life promises to free us from the binaries of fxity, of groundedness, of the notion of up and down, east and west, north and south, lived human experiences that have been translated into discursive fctions that inform the way we regard one another, that shape how we measure personal and human success, and that motivate our consciousness toward conquest through strength overcoming resistance, whether of people or of frontiers. But once we achieve zero G, we lack discursive tools other than those we developed on earth to make sense of our situation. We compensate by superimposing markers that remind us of the familiar world below. A 2018 National Geographic cover story, “Trough an Astronaut’s Eyes,” notes the difculty faced by the few people who’ve been to space in describing earth seen from orbit. “It’s an inherently unnatural thing, spacefight,” writes contributing author Nadia Drake. “After all, our physiology evolved specifcally to succeed on this planet, not above it.” Drake shares the experience of Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano, who says we haven’t developed the “words” to adequately describe spacefight. “Te building blocks of modern human communication,” writes Drake, “words are necessarily constrained by meaning and connotation, no matter which language you choose. . . . And until the mid-

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twentieth century, there was no need to express what it means to see our planet in the fercely primeval essence of space.”28 As I’ve remarked already, it may not be just be the words we in the West use to describe spectacle that are native to the earth, but the very prepositions we use to communicate value, legitimacy, and success and failure, drawn from our bodily experience of positionality on our planet’s surface in relation to its pull. Our brains work with our eyes to develop the world into discernable strata of up and down, divided by a nearly fat horizon at our sightline from noncompound eyes situated, predator-style, in the front of our face. Had it not been for this and other cognitive accidents of our evolution, we may not have developed binary metaphors for categorizing things around us: up, down, inside, outside, forward, backward, right, wrong, the physical metaphors we use for more abstract concepts from religion (good and evil) to art (sublime and grotesque) to politics (liberal and conservative) to time and history (backward is past, forward is future). Te perceived equity between heavens and the earth disappears as soon as you’re higher than a climb up the tallest tree. Afect theorists can locate a coupling of infants’ physical movements forward and up as they learn to get around with afective states associated with the emotions of joy and achievement. And, as I wrote in the introduction, Rhonda Blair and John Lutterbie, citing the cognitive philosophy of Lakof and Johnson and the linguistic studies of Fauconnier and Turner, note that the very metaphors we use in everyday speech to describe and narrate our lives come from our prelingual spatial associating of up and forward with being positive and down and backward with being negative. To think otherwise upends, as it were, an intricately linked linguistic system policing political and social value. Tropes of high and low can be traced through literature and popular colloquialism. Human beings who are “down and out,” like, say, the characters in Maxim Gorki’s play Te Lower Depths, or in Joris-Karl Huysmans’s novel Là-bas (“Down Tere”), are politically and economically abject. Mikhail Bakhtin identifes carnivalesque associations of “down” and “base” with primitivity, folksiness, and lower bodily strata (buttocks and genital regions) in medieval literature, while “up” and “forward” are linked to “higher class” and the intellect, advanced ideas, and transcendent aesthetics associated with the mind. Te thumbpointing-up sign as an endorsement of “likeability” on social media is a latter-day iteration of flm critics Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s approval


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of a movie, which in turn echoed the “thumbs-up” gesture made popular by World War II pilots.29 Tese political, aesthetic, and dispositional associations become untethered if we don’t have an up and down, or a horizon by which to measure the height and depth of a given position.  Upward, in this metaphorical schema, is an earthly abstraction that has become tied to progress and power. Upward is where we fnd the gods. But upward is void of cognitive or physiological evidence as soon as one actually ascends to a point where the horizon loses its fat bisection of heavens and earth. In other words, successful transcendence to the realm of the gods renders moot the yardstick measuring the diference. What’s more, when you get there, as astronauts who’ve spent more than a few days in zero gravity know, you’re not a god. Removed from the nurturing pull of gravity, your body starts to fall apart and your systems start to fail. Te astronaut body is a sick body, as Scott Kelly, the American astronaut who spent a year in space, details in his recently published memoir. On his return to earth, Kelly’s limbs swelled to unrecognizable blobby appendages, his skin burned, his heart, shrunken and atrophied from a year free of resistance, struggled to pump blood to his extremities.30 It was excruciating, from the Latin word for torment on a cross. Heaven is revealed to be Hell. Remember, zero-G fight is not fight at all, but a fall. Fall comes from an Old Norse word meaning dropping or sinking down, and became associated in English with “sin” as in “Te Fall,” with dying as in “falling in battle,” with loss as in the Fall of Constantinople or falling from Grace, with a loss of control or reason as in falling in love. Fall shares an even older root with “failure” and with “falseness.” We spend our whole developmental stage trying not to fall, and learn to associate the sensation of falling with the opposite of praise and comfort reserved for standing. Te word “stand” has an older military use, too, of occupying and successfully maintaining a position against falling or failing. Of course we want to throw up in zero G when we’re programmed to feel discomfort when we’re falling. In many ways, I am  pointing out how, Icarus-like, the boldness and hubris with which we reach beyond our limits comes with tragic consequences. My project, however, endeavors to work against the Icarus myth. As a terrestrial creation, Icarus and Daedalus reinforce the dual realms of heavens and earth, a binary opposition that only exists on the surface. Many of our metaphors and myths for human experience, the rite of passage, the breach, the crisis and reintegration of comedy and the schism

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of tragedy, become bankrupt at the Karman line separating the earth’s envelope from the rest of space. Te Icarus myth is admittedly seductive for its tidiness, it’s narrative comfort, it’s rich, cold, and delicious trove of judgmental envy and schadenfreude. In Gilles Deleuze’s terminology, it reifes an anxious, striated view of the cosmos, designed to establish and police a sense of the order of things. Tere’s much to be gained when we take Deleuze up on his radical invitation to consider close-range or “haptic” vision in his challenging essay “Nomad Art: Space,” to consider what is revealed or possible to think by “losing oneself without landmarks in the smooth space.”31 By forgoing the objective point of view of “striated space,” ofered by long-distance vision, the viewer is freed from “constancy of orientation, invariance of distance through an interchange of inertial points of reference, interlinkage by immersion in an ambient milieu, constitution of a central perspective. It is less easy to evaluate the creative potentialities of striated space, and how it can simultaneously emerge from the smooth and give everything a whole new impetus.”32 Te striated view, that of the anxious empire, that of the city-state, gives the illusion of privilege, of a delimited center, “which then functions to repel beyond the limits anything that menaces the global integration.”33 But we often miss in the opening of Deleuze’s essay that haptic space is not limited to the descent to the ground level, or to the extreme close-up of the canvas, nor can it exist without relation to the long-range striated vision: “Once again,” Deleuze reminds us, “this analysis must be corrected by a coefcient of transformation according to which passages between the striated and the smooth are at once necessary and uncertain, and all the more disruptive”;34 “the striated itself may in turn disappear in a ‘catastrophe,’ opening the way for a new smooth space, and another striated space.”35 “[T]he developed optical function,” he writes, “is not content to take striation to a new level of perfection, endowing it with an imaginary universal value and scope; it is also capable of reinstating the smooth, liberating light and modulating color, restoring a kind of aerial haptic space that constitutes the unlimited site of intersection of the planes.”36 A similar escape can be achieved by extreme slowness or extreme speed, whereby the anxious grids we use to striate our world into knowable geometry give way to abstraction. “Te line escapes geometry” Deleuze explains succinctly, “by a fugitive mobility”37 (fugitive of course, stems from the root fugere for “to fy,” which connects to the Deleuzean concept of lines of fight).


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Is it possible to suggest that an exercise of weightlessness through falling is just such a catastrophe that opens the way for a new smooth space of discourse? A vantage point that shrugs of striated space (heaven and earth, east and west, you and me, real and mimetic)? A “Nomad Art” refuses to snap to the to normative geometries of up and down because it is practiced without Alberti’s rules of perspective, and allows us, for instance, to repoliticize the event with realities of social class, gender,  race, and labor that are often erased by hewing to existing mythic templates of explanation. My work on Bessie Coleman, the early-twentieth-century black and indigenous woman aviator who was thrown from her plane as she rehearsed for a barnstorming performance, calls into question how capitalistic and romantic notions of “upward mobility,” “reaching for the stars,” and “rising above one’s station” as measuring sticks for success actually reify abstract categories for how we organize people into high and low. In these kinds of hierarchies, the means to success will almost always have to do with buying into society’s very strict rules for success, which are defned along lines of economies of money and of identity as commodity.  From such a striated gaze, if someone “fails” at achieving these “higher” markers of success, we can romanticize them as an Icarus getting too close to the sun, rather than examining the structures that prevented them from succeeding and were working against them. In other words, if we look at Bessie Coleman as an Icarus, she’s a hero who died tragically because her passion fnally overstepped her God-given human limitations. If we take away the Icarus template, Bessie Coleman is an individual who’s life’s work points out the entrenched and institutionalized systems of injustice and racism that kept her from the resources that would have kept her alive—resources that white aviators had access to, even white women (though to a lesser extent, unless they were part of the wealthy establishment like Amelia Earhart). At its heart, Performing Flight critiques as constructed the very privileging of “upward” itself as complicit in the suppression of underprivileged voices, by putting them on a lower rung of the hierarchical ladder, the folk with their experience motivated by lower-body strata rather than their intellect, the underdeveloped and unadvanced ethnographic other. Perhaps by defying gravity—and weightlessness—discursively as the criteria by which we measure human success, we can begin to spin new thread for the warp and weft of representing human experience.

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Tis brings us back to the privileged status of the humans currently in charge of space tourism, an enterprise led, with forceful obviousness, by millionaires for millionaires, including but not limited to Elon Musk, Jef Bezos, and Richard Branson. Importantly, with the privatization of aerospace comes the freedom to no longer justify entertainment by legitimizing practices of science, of making space tourists mission participants. Tese celebrity business pioneers instead ofer pleasure and leisure as a purchasable commodity untainted by labor, though, they argue, all of the aerospace industry stands to gain. It must be said that the millionaires who buy their way into space frame and justify their expenditure as motivated by ideals not dissimilar to those that buoyed our space programs’ scientifc origins. Harnett told me that, contrary to rich consumers simply buying a fashionable commodity, space tourists have characteristics in common. “Tey’re interested in space as kids. Interested in watching Star Trek and Star Wars. Tey have a natural wonder in space and going out there . . . to be the things they saw on TV and the movies. Being wealthy has aforded them the opportunity to execute those dreams.” Harnett says that “they’ve conveyed that sense of privilege, that they understand that they’re lucky. Tat you [shouldn’t] need to be that privileged. You don’t have to be a multimillionaire to do this.” Harnett doesn’t get the sense these individuals are “playing astronaut.” “It’s been made fairly clear that they’re buying their ride, but not buying their way out of the training,” she explained. Most people, including fellow crew members, do not regard them as a “second-class type of astronaut.” Like them, they’ve earned the right to space through their labor. “Tey’ve just bought their way to the front of the line.”38 Even so, sometimes there’s a frightening Darwinian survival-of-thefttest logic to space tourists’ view of the future of the human species. Space tourism is paving the way for an escape route if the earth becomes too inhospitable to support life. But no amount of science and technology can possibly save everyone. “We have to think about how we can save . . . at least a portion of our species,” Ansari told flmmaker Frei. More to the point, the last space tourist to go up, Guy Laliberté, the Cirque du Soleil founder who started as a lowly accordion-playing, stilt-walking, fre-eating busker on the streets of Quebec, has, like a Bond-Villain, purchased a remote Pacifc atoll in Polynesia to which, if he’s not in space by then, he plans to repair with his family and close friends to weather the global catastrophe that will kill of the rest of us.


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Tis introduces a kind of us-and-them scenario, does it not? Flipping the script wherein space tourists are not the examples par excellence of the “new man” who will lead us into the next chapter of humanity, but rather the proprietary owners of the space arks that will close the doors against us when God is done with the earth again. Indeed, already there are instances of underrepresented humans whose way of life is being afected by the forces of the space industry, even though they will never be slated for space travel. In the same documentary that features Anousheh Ansari, flmmaker Christian Frei takes us back out into the Kazakhstan steppes, where poor scrap metal scavengers, straight out of a Star Wars movie, scour the wastes for space junk, such as fallen pieces of booster rockets, which they cut apart by hand and sell to scrap dealers in China for their valuable titanium and high-grade aluminum alloys.39 Te frst thing the scrappers do when they fnd a piece of a crumpled Soyuz booster, still smoldering, is extract a bowl-shaped piece of the rocket engine, which they promptly use as a pot to cook their lunch. Other bits of rocket fall from the sky into farms and villages, sometimes through the roofs of houses, and the pragmatic villagers use the metal for shovels and sledges, or to repair their roofs. But because the spaceship parts are full of deadly chemicals and carcinogens, these subaltern members of the human race stand to get sick and die from exposure to them. In 2009, a group of fsherman in coastal Palaverkadu, India, were prevented from going to sea in the Bay of Bengal while activities were conducted for India’s Chandrayaan-1 mission to launch a lunar satellite. “Sometimes the feet was grounded for three weeks at a time,” the Daily Launch newsletter reported in January of that year, a devastating disruption to the local fshing economy. Te fsherman fnally brought their complaint to their district government, demanding compensation for their losses.40 Meanwhile a 2010 environmental impact study forecast that regular space tourism launches from a single spaceport could release 600 tons of black carbon into the earth’s atmosphere, accelerating global warming and bringing large-scale disruption to the ozone layer.41 Let me close this chapter by returning to the question with which I opened. Would you want to be a space tourist? Perhaps the revelation of the deteriorating efects of space on Scott Kelly’s body might make you hesitate, if the account of my own “morning-after” experience didn’t. What if we ask an opposite question: who does not want you to be a space tourist? A year before the fshermen in Palaverkadu protested the dis-

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ruption of their fshing practices, a group of Brazilian villagers set up a roadblock in Manuana, in the forests north of Rio de Janeiro. About sixty Mamuna villagers, descendants of slaves who, the Wall Street Journal reports, for two hundred years had “farmed communally, played drums made of tree trunks[,] and revered spirits in the wilderness,” occupied the log barricade with machetes and scythes to prevent trafc of Brazilian and Ukrainian scientists and construction workers who were revamping an aging rocket base constructed by the military government in the early eighties to become a “world-class space center.” To the Mamuna people, the transnational space industry was a threat to their homes, their farms, and their spiritual way of life, uprooting sacred trees and digging wide swaths of forest for roads. Te initial rocket base had already displaced about 00 Mamuna families, forcing them to resettle into smaller land parcels far from their fshing grounds. “We weren’t giving up our lands to outsiders,” said Militina Garcia Serejo, one of the Mamuna community leaders who led the eforts to block the progress of the space port. “[N]ot even brilliant scientists.”42 Servulo de Jesus Moraes, another protest leader, described the inequitable land and resource distribution in favor of the space workers as an “intellectual apartheid,” in which the Mamuna villagers lacked access even to the jobs created by the Brazilian space program, because they were denied even basic schooling. A judge issued an injunction against the construction in support of the villagers’ rights, upholding the public prosecutors’ suit that cited an anthropological study asserting that the space industry development had disturbed the Mamuna’s “rich immaterial patrimony” (in other words, the encandados, or nature spirits) while land titles were investigated.43 Te performance of anti-space tourism, seen in the demonstrations of the Indian fshermen and the Brazilian villagers, can also be read as a form of Performance as Research: a making of meaning through the legal tactics and repertoiric practices available to them to revise the narrative. We are far from “all one.” Space is not the inevitable fnal frontier for a species universally hardwired to get there. Space, rather, is for the new new leisure class and the industries that cater to it, which stand to devastate the earth’s forests, oceans, and atmosphere, contributing to the global doom from which they claim to be protecting us. Houston, the people of the earth speak back, we have a problem.


9/11, Flight, and Performance To write of the hijacker attacks of 9/11 as performance is precarious. Te horrifc and violent nature of the attacks, the violence sufered by thousands of victims, and the trauma experienced by thousands upon thousands to whom the victims were connected shrug of attempts at performance analysis. To call the September 11 attacks a work of art is both preposterous and insulting, as German composer Karlheinz Stockhausen found out when his concerts were cancelled after he perhaps clumsily suggested on the radio in the following week that the attacks were “the greatest work of art that is possible in the whole cosmos.”1 And yet, to write about the four fights involved in the September 11 hijacking attacks is, in a way, where this book about performance and fight has been inevitably heading, despite my discursive trepidation in the face of such a difcult subject, and my own struggle to attend to that which I fnd morally objectionable with the same rigor as I would to a performance that, even if I don’t agree with it politically, doesn’t kill thousands of people. I am buoyed in my own task, as I know others have been, by the inspiring work of John Fletcher, who encourages theater and performance scholars to resist the urge to demonize, simplify, or avoid engaging altogether with performances that don’t match their ethics or politics—with performances we fnd “despicable.”2 “Historiography does not consist of soulless data collection and reportage, nor can the historian pretend to write from a political no-space,” Fletcher maintains, but to reserve rigorous engagement solely for performance we like not only threatens to limit the contours of our discipline to some kinds of performance over others, it forecloses awareness of the historicity of our own positions. “How and why, then” Fletcher asks, drawing on the terminology of David Román, “might I practice critical generosity toward my enemy?”3 Several scholars have used theater and performance to make sense of the events of the morning of September 11. Very few have extended a 110

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critical apparatus to the performances that morning of the hijackers, the so-called pilot hijackers and muscle hijackers who carried out the attacks. In this chapter I attempt to take up a critical analysis of these hijacker performances, in particular their performances of fight, and to discuss how the hijackers have been subsequently represented, particularly in the exhibition at the September 11 Memorial and Museum (hereafter referred to as the 9/11 Memorial and Museum), built on the site of Ground Zero in New York City. Ann Pellegrini, herself responding to the attacks in the October 2001 “Forum on Tragedy” in Teatre Journal, allows that Stockhausen’s remarks, above, were shocking, yet as a performance-studies scholar and a New Yorker she fnds herself recommending that the attacks be treated as performance. We would do well to consider, she writes, “maybe even with a Stockhausen, performance’s power to rupture the social and inspire a range of afective responses—not just joy and delight and insight, but also (sometimes alongside them, sometimes not) terror and rage and horror.”4 Te 9/11 attacks, she writes, “were staged events, excruciatingly calibrated to maximize the spectacle and its horror as America watched, watches, live. For all the debate within performance studies about performance as (is it?) always on the verge of loss, September 11th was performance of and on the verge: performance unto death.”5 Christopher Balme, in the same issue, contextualizes Stockhausen’s aestheticizing remarks within an already aestheticizing mediatization of the attacks. “Stockhausen’s remarks, I would argue, are motivated primarily by the shock of the unforeseen (hence the parallels here with the sublime) and its almost immediate aestheticization in the media,” writes Balme. “At one point in the reporting by CNN on the day of the attack all interviews and announcements were visually counterpointed by interminable repetitions of the second plane burning its way through the WTC tower—from diferent angles and at diferent speeds. I was immediately reminded of Sam Peckinpah’s death scenes in Te Wild Bunch.”6 Rustom Bharucha, in Performance and Terror, notes that scholars of theater and performance might reasonably, and with some evidence, draw comparisons between Stockhausen’s controversial remarks and earlier comments by, say, Jean Genet, who maintained ties to militant counterculture activists and terrorist groups (the Black Panthers, Palestinian liberation fghters, and the Red Army Faction), or to Antonin Artaud’s Teatre of Cruelty. But the comparisons fall fat on closer inspection,


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argues Bharucha, because the writing on violence and extremity in both Genet and Artaud is marked by far more nuance and even ethical considerations to be able to afrm without problematizing, as did Stockhausen, “the actual mortality underlying ‘the greatest work of art,’ the deaths of ,000 people reduced to a rhetorical fourish, almost as if they needed to die in order to make the artwork possible.”7 In contrast, Bharucha writes, Stockhausen’s hyperbolic focus on “Art,” or, more specifcally, the “greatest work of art,” plays into the worst kind of “masterpiece” syndrome, albeit not of the Artaudian variety steeped in antagonistic dismissals of authorial control and verbalism. Rather, today’s masterpieces in the global avant-garde of late modernity are assertively media-driven and centred around charismatic personalities, whose promotion on the festival circuit is not free of the outmoded yet tenacious cult of genius, which merely firts with the premise of “impossibility.”8

For Bharucha, terror is not performance in and of itself, but can be so made or experienced relationally. “[T]he performative understanding of terror,” he writes, begins only when one responds to an act of extreme violence, however vulnerably and in a state of acute fear, either through spectatorship or an act of witnessing. Terror can also be performed as one re-lives the act either through an immersion in its representation in the media or, even more precisely, through a critical response to the media and the discourses that have accumulated around the event. Te performance of terror, I would emphasize, is built through the accretion of these responses, and not through the act of terror itself.9

In the case of the attacks on the Twin Towers in Manhattan, or the genocidal campaigns in Rwanda and Gujarat, then, argues Bharucha, there is a performance of terror, but one that is carried out by the discourses and repetitions that emerge in response to it. In this manner, in retrospect, it is possible to assign all sorts of performative valences to a terror event, or even place it in a larger durational performance. “One could regard the less deadly attack on the World Trade Center in 199 as a dress rehearsal, or more precisely, a botched technical rehearsal, for the more devastating demolition of the Twin Towers in 2001,” Bharucha ofers. “[O]r else,

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invoking Richard Schechner’s concept of ‘restoration of behavior,’ in which all actions are repetitions of what has already been performed, we could see both attacks of 199 and 2001 as part of a larger script, which might be ‘restored’ through yet another attack in the future.”10 Schechner himself, perhaps not surprisingly given his views on performance as a broad spectrum of behavior, sees the attacks as performance, and moreover performative. In his textbook Performance Studies: An Introduction, he situates the 9/11 attacks both within the last hundred years of “terrorism as performance” and in the “performance of the War on Terror” initiated in response to them, and also discusses how the attacks ft within and gave shape to a mediatized and globalized world. About the attacks themselves, Schechner writes very little. “Although terrorism has been practiced for more than a century,” he writes, “the 9/11 attacks on New York and Washington were diferent because of their magnitude, the intention to humiliate and destabilize the world’s superpower, and the extraordinary performative quality of the attacks.” Two thousand, fve hundred and ninety-fve people were killed when two hijacked commercial airliners—the largest suicide bombers in history— were crashed into New York’s World Trade Center. Another hijacked plane ploughed into Washington’s Pentagon building, the headquarters of the US Defense Department, and a third plane whose destination was probably the US Capitol or the White House was brought down in Pennsylvania through the determined intervention of passengers who refused to let the aircraft be used as a bomb.11

Given the time that has passed since the attacks, and, thanks in large part to his own eforts, the continued and growing acceptance of performance studies as a legitimate scholarly discourse (there was a time not so long ago when it wasn’t), Schechner is safe in ascribing the terms “performance” and “performative” to the hijacking and crashing of jet planes on September 11. Bill Nichols holds that the airplane attacks that morning could not make meaning in the moments they happened, but could only be experienced in media res. “Comprehension lacks a foothold. Understanding falters. News of this event catapults the nation into the grips of a trauma. A shock without meaning.”12 Nichols quotes Maurice Blanchot: “Since the disaster always takes place after having taken place, there cannot


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possibly be any experience of it.”13 Meaning can only begin to coalesce, continues Nichols, and the event can only be created, apprehended, and named, after the fact. “Experience is retroactive,” he writes, “encounter is traumatic.”14 Comprehension still lacks a foothold for me. Unlike colleagues in New York, I witnessed the attacks remotely, in Minneapolis, getting details as they emerged through NPR. Like colleagues cited above and below, though, I too experienced 9/11 in the context of academic theater. I was in my place of work in the Department of Teatre Arts and Dance in Rarig Center at the University of Minnesota, preparing for that morning’s Introduction to Teatre class session. It was my friend, and then fellow grad student (whose work I now use discursively to frame the present chapter), John Fletcher, who told me that a jet plane had crashed into the World Trade Center. We hovered around the radio to listen as the next events unfolded: the second tower, the Pentagon, the crash in Pennsylvania. It took more than the airplane fying into the North Tower to understand this as an attack. Te frst crash seemed like a terrible, terrible accident. Te second defed explanation. With the third and fourth, for all we knew, the world was coming to an end. Finally, we all went down join Michal Kobialka’s 101 class, where his 50 students were gathered. Whatever material was originally planned for the day was scrapped to make way for Michal’s impromptu lecture responding to the events. Te remaining university classes were cancelled at noon that day. In the course of the next few hours, the events cycled over and over on television news. For the most part, it was the repeated image of the second plane penetrating the South Tower, from multiple points of view. I remember being surprised by how small the jet plane looked against World Trade Center tower, and how dark it looked against the silver facade refecting the morning sunlight. Te frst split second of the crash was surreal, the jet seeming to pass into the side of the building without resistance and disappearing, plane-becoming-skyscraper. For another split second the building looked the same, except for a narrow, diagonal slit marking the plane’s disappearance, until the explosion spewed out laterally from the entrance wound and the building’s opposite side. It’s of course impossible to fully recover a memory of those frst hours, just as it is impossible to separate the hijackers’ performance from the multiple other narratives that day and following: the ,000 dead, the emergency responders fallen, the collapse of the towers, the aftermath, the

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rushed-through Patriot Act and expanded federal powers of surveillance, the trumped-up justifcation for the coalition invasion of Iraq, the inquiries and commissions. Te memorials. Te War on Terror. Te killing of Osama bin Laden. If we, even as an exercise for this book, isolate the performance of terror that day solely to that which involved the pilots and planes, there are some standout elements germane to the performing of fight. Four pilots perpetrated the attacks on 9/11: Mohamed Atta, Marwan al-Shehhi, Ziad Jarrah, and Hani Haniour.15 Tey acted in accordance with the 1996 and 1998 fatwas against the United States and its presence in the Middle East.16 Specifcally, the hijackers were carrying out the plan orchestrated by al-Qaeda’s Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who had proposed the attacks to Osama bin Laden in 1996 and was given the go-ahead to proceed in 1998 or 1999. Mohammed began selecting targets and putting the team together shortly afterward, with Atta as the lead hijacker. Operational support (travel arrangements, assistance in target selection) was provided by Mohammed Atef Al-Masri. Bin Laden provided fnancial backing and leadership. Te 9/11 hijackers numbered nineteen in total: ffteen from Saudi Arabia, two from the United Arab Emirates, one from Egypt, and one from Lebanon. Tey comprised four teams, each led by one pilothijacker and three or four “muscle hijackers.” Together they took over four large airplanes operated by United and American Airlines, two 757s and two 767s, headed for destinations in California, departing from Logan, Dulles, and Newark airports. Te size of the planes, and their full tanks of explosive fuel, made them optimal for the attacks. It is impossible, not to mention tasteless and disrespectful, to speak of the pilot-hijackers’ performance in 2001 in terms of virtuosity, skill, or talent, yet undeniably notable is the extraordinary speed and efciency with which three of the four acquired the knowledge that allowed them to attain commercial licenses and pilot jet airplanes. Atta, al-Shehhi, and Jarrah, radicalized and trained in Afghanistan, and members together in the so-called Hamburg cell of al-Qaeda, arrived in south Florida in the summer of 2000. Tere, they enrolled in fight school and took lessons nearly daily, passing their exams and earning their commercial pilot licenses for small aircraft in November or December of that same year. From there, they continued their training for larger commercial aircraft by paying for time in Boeing and Airbus fight simulators and acquiring fight-deck videos from mail-order services. Te fourth pilot-hijacker, Hani Haniour,


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was a licensed pilot already, having trained in Arizona in 1999 in hopes of a career in commercial aviation. Haniour pursued additional training in simulators in Arizona, California, and New Jersey beginning in 2000.17 On the morning of September 11, the nineteen hijackers boarded the United and American fights without incident. Tey overcame or killed the fight crews between ffteen and forty minutes into their fights, using box cutters or Leatherman-type tools and mace, pepper spray, or tear gas.18 Tere seems to have been little attempt at disguise or imposture. We know from passenger cell-phone calls that the hijacking team led by Jarrah, which took over United fight 9 headed for a target in Washington, wore red headbands or bandannas. Later, commercial airline uniforms were found in Atta’s luggage, which suggests the possibility that at some point the plan may have involved one or more of the hijackers impersonating fight crew members. When frst arriving in the U.S. and pursuing fying lessons, Atta and al-Shehhi posed as a Saudi Arabian royal and his bodyguard, respectively, so impersonation was at least within their operating procedure. On the face of it, though, the hijackers that morning were not engaging in performance as mimesis or imitation per se, yet they did rely on the construction of fctional narrative to elicit cooperation from the passengers on the planes. Te passengers were told that the hijackers had bombs, with which they threatened to blow up the plane unless the passengers followed orders. Calls from passengers or fight attendants report that one or more of the hijackers had boxes strapped to their chest. Tese were probably props, since explosives had not been detected earlier by airport security. But the performative fction that might seem most insidious is the charade conducted over the plane’s PA systems in which the passengers received one narration of events while they were part of another, far worse, one. Te pilot hijackers used the intercoms, as countless pilots had done before, to reassure the passengers of their safety. Atta told the 81 passengers on AA Flight 11 on their way to the attack on the North Tower that they would be safely returned to the airport if they kept still and quiet. “We have some planes,” Atta told the passengers. “Just stay quiet and you’ll be okay. We are returning to the airport.”19 Ten, few minutes later: “Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” Jarra told his 7 passengers fying on United Airlines Flight 9 that morning (a small number, given that 757s have upwards of 180-passenger capacity), “Ladies and gen-

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tleman, this is the captain. Please sit down. . . . We have a bomb on board.” A few moments later, he came back on. “Uh, this is the captain. Would like you all to remain seated. Tere is a bomb on board and [we] are going back to the airport and to have our demands met. Please remain quiet.” As I argued in chapter , the pilot’s performance in a passenger plane involves not just safe takeof and landing, and maintenance of proper altitude, airspeed, and direction of the plane in between, but maintaining the behavior and comportment of the passengers in partnership with the fight attendants by speaking to the cabin over the PA system. Te pilot must, at times, construct a narrative based more on the criteria that will keep passengers safely in their seats than on specifc facts related to the state of the aircraft. In most cases, we passengers probably are better of not knowing the proprietary information reserved for the fight deck and towers. Our job is to trust and believe pilots when they tell us we will be okay if we follow our instructions. Here, Atta and Jarra charge the passengers with silence and cooperation, but put the onus on the passengers to keep the plane safe and out of danger through their behavior. “Everything will be okay. If you try to make any moves, you’ll endanger yourself and the airplane. Just stay quiet.” Te gambit relied on the indoctrinated scenario of passenger cooperation. Evidence suggests the passengers on Atta’s 767 complied, as did the passengers on the United Flight 175, which crashed into the South Tower, and American Flight 77, which crashed into the Pentagon. But because of the timing, the passengers who phoned out of Flight 9 learned of the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and surmised that their hijackers were not planning to return them safely to Newark after all. We know that several of the passengers stormed the cockpit, using a meal cart as a battering ram. Jarra attempted to shake the passengers by nosing up and down and rolling the plane from side to side. Finally, after deliberation with the other hijackers, punctuated by uttering the takbir several times, Jarra deliberately aborted the mission, crashing the 757 into the Somerset County, Pennsylvania, feld. A counterpoint to the sensational use of commercial airplanes as weapons of mass destruction was the way in which commercial aircraft were subsequently struck from view in US airspace by the federal government in the following weeks. For days, none of the usual quotidian jet engine noise broke the silence of the skies above Minneapolis. Every so often, a pair of droning C-1 0 patrol planes appeared, widely circling the metro area, holding vigil, keeping watch. So devoid of sound were the


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skies otherwise that the frst jet engine that broke the silence was surprisingly noticeable. Were the hijacker’s fights on 9/11 a successful performance? Te question at once reveals the relativity of the aesthetic criteria by which we judge any performance and presumes that we can legitimately apply a criterion of success to an event that involves the death of thousands. Did the terrorists achieve their aerobatic goals? Tree out of four. Did they achieve their goals for making meaning through performance? Te answer would need to presume that their aesthetic language is legible. Can fight, in other words, communicate aesthetic meaning? Pilot artists have attempted to create templates for doing so, perhaps most famously the practitioners of Futurist Aerial Teatre. Italian Futurist artist and aerobatic pilot Fedele Azari disseminated his manifesto for a Futurist Aerial Teatre in the form of pamphlets dropped from his plane over the city of Milan. In it, he called for fight as a medium through which to communicate “artistic expression of states of mind.” According to Gerald Silk, Azari used a technological variation on “theories associating color, geometry, and the orientation of line with emotional and psychological states” to make similar associations with aerobatic moves. “[L]ooping denotes gaiety, the barrel-roll impatience or irritation, while repeated side-slips to the right and to the left indicate ‘carefreeness,’ and long free-falling descents give a sense of weariness and nostalgia.” Intending to enhance the multisensory aspects of Aerial Teater, [Azari] suggested that the motors of the plane be tuned “to regulate sonority,” and that the exhaust should “discharge . . . colored and perfumed” matter, amplifying the visuals of and incorporating smell into the performance. He called his exploits “a new form of art . . . analogous, but infnitely superior, to dance,” in which “all the infnite variety of maneuvers . . . gives the spectator an immediate and clear understanding of what you are trying to represent and declaim with your airplane.”20

Perhaps it is possible to suggest that some of Azari’s aerobatic associations could be communicated to crowds on the ground at a contemporary air show, though it would be rare for a spectator today to apprehend representations of such a range of human emotion by an airplane in performance. Te aerobat is as subject as any artist to the infelicities of meaning

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lost in translation. Such is the often-monolingual language of aesthetics. But the four hijacked 9/11 fights shrug of these associations because of their framing as acts of terror, versus representational performance. Te side-slips, rolls, and fnal free fall Jarra executed on Flight 9 to foil the resisting passengers, for instance, were not intended to communicate the emotions of irritation or weariness Azari felt these same moves conveyed. Aesthetics, then, becomes a bankrupt tool for interpretation. If the usual successful criteria for performing fight include safe execution of takeof and landing and, in the duration between, safety extended to passengers and spectators and bystanders on the ground, these criteria were not met on 9/11. Te hijackers crashed. Tis is an unfathomable reversal of criteria, aesthetic or otherwise, for fight. For the hijackers, though, it must have made sense. And here is the rub. Te performances of fight were successful if judged by the criteria of the hijackers and their al-Qaeda producers. In crashing into the Towers and the Pentagon they reifed and consecrated the fatwas on the U.S. on a global scale. While there have been many other famous air-performance crashes or explosions, some of which have been treated in this book (Bessie Coleman’s crashes, the Challenger and Columbia explosions, and so forth), we tend to narrate them as failure, in spite of best intentions. Fliers crash because of ambition, the desire to “slip the surly bonds of earth and touch the Face of God.” We are taught that the sublime sought by those fiers was worth the risk because others have successfully returned and confrmed that it is indeed so much better than the quotidian earth. Once back on the ground, they can only ever again feel ravished, only ever again feel they are in the absence of the divine. Hijacker suicide bombers, on the other hand, do not come back to report. We have no corroboration of a sublime with which to make sense of their actions. Fear, anger, and confusion fll in the gap with other words that can give us the meaning we need for closure: Cowardice, for instance. Evil. Terror. Tis all raises the question of empathy for the hijacker performers. Of the theater and performance scholars who have taken it up, Bharucha does so most fully and poignantly in Terror and Performance, so I won’t go further on the matter here than to point up some of the questions with which Bharucha initiates the discussion: “Would it be possible to feel any empathy,” he asks, for “Mohammed Atta or any of his colleagues fying the airplane into the wall?”


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Can these “terrorists” be denied courage (as Susan Sontag was among the frst Americans to acknowledge), or are they always going to be demonized as worthless “cowards”? Can one feel for them, or is the very posing of the question an involuntary revelation of one’s own diabolical afnities to terrorism? . . . However, a harder question to ask would be that even if one chooses not to mourn for the perpetrators, how can one not acknowledge them as human?21

In the spring of 2019 I few to New York to visit the National September 11 Memorial and Museum, opened in May 2014 to be, according to its website, “the country’s principal institution concerned with exploring the implications of the events of 9/11, documenting the impact of those events and exploring 9/11’s continuing signifcance.”22 Te museum sits on and below the site of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, which came to be known as Ground Zero, echoing the site of devastation wrought by the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I’d frst written about the WTC site vis-à-vis the memorialization of traumatic pasts shortly after 9/11, when plans for the best way to commemorate and interpret the attacks were far from clear. Commentators in venues such as Newsweek and the New York Times in the weeks following the attacks feared that initial calls to build monuments to the towers would only ofer soothing, celebratory contextualization for the tragedy rather than inviting more complex refection on trauma and the changing global realities signaled by the attacks. At the American Society for Teatre Research conference a couple of months after 9/11, I ofered the suggestion that leaving empty holes as footprints of the former towers would prompt the future visitor to think, rather than “merely be soothed by an aesthetic memorial that functions to mediate the experience of loss.” Holes, I imagined, drawing on Suzan-Lori Parks’ “Great Hole of History” in Te America Play, might also invite visitors to, rather than consume the scripted narratives of curators, consider both “the atrocities, erasures, events allowed to happen but not chosen as worthy of record,” as well as “events that were never allowed to happen by the existing order of things.”23 Spring 2019 was my frst time back to Ground Zero since it had been stripped down to a hole, so I was interested to see the results of the several years of complicated, at times contentious curatorial discussion and planning since then. I was also focused specifcally on how the hijacker pilots of 9/11, and their performances of fight, are remembered by the museum.

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Te former sites of the North and South Towers, I found, are indeed marked by vast, rectilinear holes: holes enclosing refecting pools fed by cascading fountains that drown out the noises of lower Manhattan. Ground Zero is now the opposite of height, the opposite of altitude, made all the more striking by the enormous One World Trade Center, the socalled Freedom Tower adjacent to the memorial site that reclaimed the title of the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere when it opened in 2014. Freedom Tower provides its own narrative in answer to the attack on America, though the gray morning I visited it simply disappeared into the clouds only a dozen or so stories up. Tis morning, the absence of the original towers was striking. Te tallest things in the plaza seemed to be the swamp white oaks surrounding the holes. Absence was also marked by the engraved names of the victims of 9/11 as well as those of the 199 bombing, explained Justin, the guide for one of the tours I took that day, as they are etched into the granite and bronze parapet frames around the holes rather than embossed in relief on them. Te memorial is an experience of quiet, or at least of rushing white noise that fattens out aural reference points. Te fat plaza also shrugs of singular routes of navigation, of transgression across the empty space. One can visit the holes one after the other, alternating movement and quiet stasis, or simply wander among the trees. D. J. Hopkins and Shelley Orr, in “Memory/Memorial/Performance,” critique the 9/11 Memorial Committee’s decision to add a more robust landscape design to the otherwise sparse plaza, “Refecting Absence,” originally envisioned by Michael Arad. Landscape architect Peter Walker added the deciduous white swamp oak trees, which the committee felt emphasized the reafrmation of life. Ultimately, argue Hopkins and Orr, the Committee was heavy-handed in its “desire to dictate the experience of the visitor,” rather than “grant[ing] visitors a role in creating their own response to the memorial.” Te move to add the oak trees, Hopkins and Orr write, “began to close up the possible responses to the ‘absence’ of the memorial.”24 If the muscling for ways to remember 9/11 above ground was made clear with the curation of the Memorial Plaza, it was all the clearer with what was eventually designed for the museum experience underneath.25 Once the visitor purchases a ticket and descends into the 9/11 Museum below ground level, the curation of memory and experience is explicitly felt. Te layout of the exhibition is linear, with visitors directed to descend a spiral ramp from the main concourse to the exhibitions area


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and education level at the bottom. Scripted experience and one-way visitor trafcking is often favored by designers of sites of conscience, such as the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, and blockbuster touring museum exhibitions such as Titanic: Te Artifact Exhibition, when intentional (or uniform) narratives are desired and crowd trafc is a challenge. Like with those exhibition designs, here at the 9/11 Museum visitors are pointedly, if subtly, kept on track. Te descent takes visitors past the Towers’ footprints, the holes above now seen from their contours beneath in the negative, like enormous cube-shaped stalactites pushing downward into the cavernous memorial space. Beneath the pools, exhibition and educational spaces are nested into the base of the cubes, where they meet the bedrock seventy feet below the plaza. Also marking the path of descent are large, almost seemingly rough-hewn, sculptural objects: the “Survivor Staircase” that ofered countless survivors a means to escape the burning towers, the “Last Column” removed from the WTC site, a crushed hook and ladder truck and a section of the North Tower antenna, and damaged steel beams used by the 9/11 Commission to study why the towers collapsed. One wall featured an art installation, Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on Tat September Morning. Another exposed the “slurry wall” that kept the Hudson River from rushing into the attack site and fooding Lower Manhattan. Te September 11 Historical Exhibition at the bottom of the museum (Foundation Hall) does the heaviest lifting when it comes to narrating the events of that morning. Te exhibition, like the museum, is arranged to process visitors through in a one-way fashion, with the narrative frame unfolding linearly as a timeline of events. We move along through the gallery spaces guided by literal timelines marking the events, comprising the minutes and seconds of that morning, while at the same time passing artifacts salvaged from the attack sites of the North and South Towers, the Pentagon, and the crash site in Pennsylvania. Te timelines bristle with quotes from fight attendants working the hijacked planes, from transcripts of control-tower workers, and from voice-mail and answeringmachine messages left by victims on the planes and in the towers. Te artifacts include remnants from the towers, newspapers from that morning, and, surprisingly, an occasional shrapnel shard of a jetliner fuselage found in the wreckage. Visitors can hear audio recordings at several listening stations throughout. Archival video footage plays on loop: videos of the planes crashing into the towers, videos of bodies falling from windows, videos of the towers collapsing. Te timeline framing seems to organize the chaos of that morning into

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Fig. 11. Fragment of American Airlines Flight 11 (Boeing 767-22 ER) on display at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum.  Collection 9/11 Memorial Museum, From the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey Police Department (PAPD) 9-11 Traveling Memorial Photograph by Jin S Lee. Used with permission.

an assimilable story with a beginning, middle, and end. Te cloudless blue Tuesday morning. Te surprise attacks. Te brave and selfess responses of passengers and fight crew. Te tragic collapse of the towers. After the gallery exhibiting items associated with search-and-rescue eforts and other episodes of 9/11’s aftermath, however, the narrative conspicuously breaks from the linear timeline, and the display begins to tell the story of Osama bin Laden, the rise of al-Qaeda, and the jihads, including panels on al-Qaeda’s bombings of U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya in 1998 and the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in 2000. Te rupture of the narrative’s chronological organization is barely noticeable because it is smoothed over by the narrative’s transition into a Turnerian social drama of breach, crisis, and redressive action culminating in a purging of the negative elements and a communal healing with the raid on Abbottabad and the elimination of al-Qaeda’s leader. To that end, there was a noticeable change in the soundscape in these


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last galleries, which now comprised the fnal act of the larger story of the War on Terror. Te background noise in the preceding galleries was a muted din of audio recordings of voice-mail messages, newscast anchors, and morning television show hosts, explosions, and the gasps of onlookers. In the al-Qaeda galleries, the rooms hummed with a vaguely discomfting atonal drone noise, which I traced to the soundtrack of a video playing on loop in one of the central exhibit spaces called “Te Rise of Al Qaida,” narrated by Brian Williams. I heard the sound again later that afternoon in the museum’s upstairs auditorium. Te sound played on a flm commissioned by the 9/11 Memorial and Museum called “Facing Crisis: America Under Attack,” and came on when the flm’s talking heads (George W. Bush, Condoleezza Rice, Rudy Giuliani, George Pataki) brought up al-Qaeda. Te captioning at the bottom of the screen read “continual drone sound.”26 It’s hard to describe this sound as music, but it is defnitely meant to accompany scenes involving bad guys. And it’s hard to pin down just what its purpose was, afectively speaking. It’s not like the minor-key leitmotif that plays with the villain’s entrance in melodrama (or that accompanied the Soviets in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum’s space-race flm in its long-running “Apollo to the Moon” exhibit), or the regionally or culturally specifc Middle Eastern music that similarly plays over villain scenes with Islamist terrorists in flm and television. But it doesn’t comfort, that’s for sure, and it sets the teeth on edge, as if to link descriptions of al-Qaeda and other forms of Muslim extremism with bodily discomfort, lest visitors get any kind of positive afective response from the photos or descriptions of the hijackers: admiration, respect, empathy. It was hard to fnd images or a description of the hijackers themselves anywhere in the museum, even in these galleries. Finally, on a wall in a dimly lighted passageway between two of the last rooms, I found a single, blink-and-you’ll-miss-it panel devoted to the 9/11 hijackers. A few feet across in size, the panel, titled “Al-Qaida hijackers” (lowercase h in the original) displays small photos of the faces the nineteen men, grouped into the four fights they hijacked (much larger photos of each of the victims of the 9/11 and the 199 bombings, with a few exceptions where no photos were available, are displayed in the “In Memoriam” gallery opposite Memorial Hall from the Historical Exhibition). Apart from the title, the panel text includes simply the fight numbers of the planes and the sites they crashed into, and the names of the nineteen men.

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Te panel, describing the hijackers in the barest detail, is the negative image of the rest of the museum exhibition and, particularly, of the memorial above. Te job of the memorial is to commemorate life and to remember the deaths of those taken untimely from that life. Verbs connoting the living or particularly the dying of the hijackers, however, are conspicuously absent in the panel text, compared with the text on panels and video screens throughout the rest of the site. Indeed, reviewing the other mentions of the hijackers on the gallery timeline up to this point confrmed that the museum never once mentions their deaths—that is, that the hijackers also died on 9/11. Te panels in the historical exhibition’s timeline that provide the death count with each plane’s crash, for instance, leave the hijackers out of the roster. Te panel devoted to the attack on the North Tower tells us that at 8:46 a.m., fve hijackers crash American Airlines Flight 11 into the North Tower. “Te 76 passengers and 11 crew members on board and hundreds inside the building are killed instantly.” Te panel for the South Tower says fve hijackers crash United Airlines Flight 175 into the South Tower at 9:0 , “killing an unknown number of people inside the building. Te 51 passengers and 9 crew members on board perish.” At 9: 7 a.m., “Five hijackers crash American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. Te 5 passengers and six crew members on board perish. Te crash and ensuing fre kills 125 military and civilian personnel on the ground.” Te last panel, “Crash of Flight 9 ,” says that at 10:0 a.m., “Four hijackers crash Flight 9 near the town of Shanksville in Somerset County, Pennsylvania, after passengers and crew storm the cockpit. Te thirty-three passengers and seven crew members on board perish.”27 In each case, passengers, crew, and victims “are killed,” “die,” or “perish.” Te hijackers get one word, “crash,” a perfunctory verb that doesn’t necessarily mean “die,” but that also shrugs of other meanings that would assign more performative agency to the hijackers, as would verbs such as “fy,” “pilot,” or even “suicide bomb.” Should it be diferent? It’s not the memorial’s job, after all, to memorialize the hijackers. And there’s been a general shift in American media, and media internationally, to mention the names of bombers and mass shooters only minimally, to avoid inspiring copycats seeking attention.28 Perhaps the museum hopes to avoid triggering victims’ families through a diminution of the hijackers in the exhibition (though Philip Kennicott’s review of the Museum in the Washington Post describes the whole place as a “labyrinth” of intentional


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emotional triggers, ritually playing on loop29). Perhaps it even hopes to mitigate the possibility of radicalizing more extremists by being extra careful to avoid anything but the most neutral representational choices in displaying the hijackers’ identities. But then it’s unclear whether any kind of Muslim was ever seriously considered by museum planners as a potential visitor demographic. Te audiences for whom the museum is intended are not specifcally spelled out in its mission statement, but “the country’s principle institution concerned with exploring” 9/11 doesn’t make any overtures welcoming visitors from the Muslim world, at least as a primary audience. Te museum let its slip show in this regard on its opening in 2014 when it ofered foreign translations of its map/guides in at least ten major languages, but, conspicuously, not in Arabic.30 Te Arab-American Antidiscrimination Committee found this to be a serious elision, and pressured the museum to ofer Arabic-language brochures to visitors. Te museum agreed in a settlement in 2017 that it would make them available.31 Making sense of trauma, these institutional choices reveal, comes with valences that privilege the values of those doing the sense-making, vis-à-vis their intended audiences. Sometimes at the 9/11 Memorial and Museum, the dramaturgy of making sense involves framing the absence of some things to help us remember them. And absenting other things so that we don’t. Teater and performance scholars in the weeks and months that followed 9/11 looked to ideas and texts in our own traditions, if not to make sense of the attacks, then to help mourn, process, and bear witness to the trauma and sufering they caused.32 Icarus comes up often in these responses to 9/11, perhaps because Michel de Certeau forever tethered him to the Twin Towers in his foundational essay “Walking in the City.” Te essay begins from the 110th foor of the World Trade Center, in full view of the city below. An arresting vision, or rather, in de Certeau’s words, a vision that arrests—the gaze freezes the agitation of the dynamic, alive city below into a “wave of verticals,” a “texturology.”33 De Certeau wonders aloud why “seeing whole” from a “totalizing” point on high elicits such pleasure. It’s an escape, he concludes, and moreover a powerful feeling of control. We know the argument by heart: the voyeur at the top of the tower presumes to possess the city by transforming it like a text. Godlike, the viewer apprehends and assimilates knowledge of that which is below into a single gaze. Tis is the privilege enjoyed by

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Icarus, whom the spectator on the World Trade Center observation deck becomes by assuming the position of the God’s-eye view: [F]lying above these waters, he can ignore the devices of Daedalus in mobile and endless labyrinths far below. His elevation transfgures him into a voyeur. It puts him at a distance. It transforms the bewitching world by which one was “possessed” into a text that lies before one’s eyes. It allows one to read it, to be a solar Eye, looking down like a god. Te exaltation of a scopic and gnostic drive: Te fction of knowledge is related to this lust to be a viewpoint and nothing more.34

Tis last line reveals that the totalizing gaze from the tower is only a constructed fction. Te status of god is only as good as his clumsy vision. What the voyeur has gained in perspective has been lost in detail and specifcity. Te optic gaze cannot be relied on to deliver the truth of the street level, the “fy’s eye view,” nor can viewers ever take themselves wholly out of the world to apprehend it in total objectivity. Only by an “Icarian fall” can one again take up an experience of the city at street level, which as a bonus ofers escape from the templates of the “readable city” imposed from above. Te lesson we draw from de Certeau, like the lesson we so often presume to assign to Daedalus and Icarus, is that the heights above, while seductive, are not all they’re cracked up to be. Te pleasures they ofer are feeting and illusory. And anyway, we don’t belong there. It’s the space of the gods. “[D]e Certeau has called the towers: ‘the tallest letters in the world’ and told us they ‘compose a giant rhetoric of excess in both expenditure and production.’” writes Rebecca Schneider of “Walking in the City.” “Turn the page and de Certeau is orchestrating his famous ‘Icarian fall’ in order to bring his readers down among the footsteps of the passersby.”35 De Certeau’s essay puts his reader in the role of Icarus, but, after 9/11 Marla Carlson wonders if the role is miscast. To de Certeau’s walker, the Towers and what they represent are the god-voyeurs, those who police us, those we evade, those we resist. But the attacks of 9/11 reveal the Towers to be the Icarus, the one who exceeds the limits, the one whose steel and concrete is revealed to be so much beeswax. De Certeau begins his consideration of “Walking in the City” with a god’seye view of New York from the 110th foor of the World Trade Center, lik-


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ening the viewer to Icarus. Although medieval and Renaissance painters had imagined this privileged perspective and used it to map their cities into orderly comprehension, the view was not widely available for sustained contemplation by worldly eyes until skyscrapers raised us up for it. Te World Trade Center was not, of course, the frst such vantage point, but de Certeau makes good use of it, proceeding from the premise that the higher, the more godlike. Yet he builds up the view from on high only to knock down the tower and join the fâneurs below.36

Te optic vantage point from the 110th foor, which purports to ofer a totalizing vision of the city below, is also a Daedalean machination, an alteration of the “natural order of things.” De Certeau, in Carlson’s words, knocks down the tower. Te question remains: what does that make de Certeau? Te sun? Te hijacker? Us? If the paragraphs above and the preceding chapters tell us anything, we might try taking a break from type-casting Icarus to help us understand our traumas or our failures. In my conclusion I will say more about this and ofer some other suggestions.

Conclusion “ the faCe of god

I’ve topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace Where never lark or even eagle few— And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod Te high untrespassed sanctity of space, Put out my hand, and touched the face of God. —“High Flight” by John Gillespie Magee, Jr., 1941

In her marvelous essay recuperating the history of Jewish actors in the eighteenth century, Heather Nathans notes the challenges faced by theater historians who need to consult and reconcile many diferent kinds of records and historiographic strategies in order to compose a coherent theatrical narrative. In her case, Nathans confronted the paucity of material in traditional archives regarding her subject, but also the paradoxes arising from taking together the theater historian’s go-to tactics of textual analysis, documentary evidence, and historical speculation. Te title of her essay, “Is Tere Too Much History in My History?” speaks to the anxieties we face when juxtaposing these records and practices, which may have not only conficting information, but taxonomical and narrative organizational strategies quite foreign to business as usual. For Nathans, though, the solution to the frustration of competing histories is compounded by our own desire to transliterate and tame them into shape, to eliminate the contradictions, and give the impression of univocality. A much less frustrating approach, she suggests, may be to open oneself to the irreconcilabilities and accommodate rather than hide them in our historiographic project. Pushing back against what William B. Worthen 129


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called “disciplinary frictions” to describe obstacles emerging when we look for evidences in felds outside the humanities, Nathans suggests instead the metaphor of the fugue from classical musical composition, “in which diferent voices—or in this case, diferent ‘kinds’ of history—blend in counterpoint to create synthesis.” A fugue, she writes, lets the historian ride the storm of discordant elements rather than fght it, and to more smoothly allow for “scope and transparency” and more generously discern the line between harmony and “cacophony”1 In music, a composer creates a fugue by interweaving two or more contrapuntal responses to a theme. Te word “fugue” is from the Italian fuga (fight, ardor), which comes from Latin fuga, meaning “fight,” in this case understood as the act or quality of feeing. Te idea of fight in composition suggests one or more voices chasing after one another as they play around the theme. Te Deleuzean “line of fight” might be a ftting way to describe the path of this chase: less a line in the geometrical sense (a straight path, the shortest between two points) than a “beeline,” perceived at frst to be chaotic, but in actuality following an organic logic and natural instinct. In psychiatry, a fugue state is one in which the patient fies from their usual environment, identity, or relationships. A fugue may be marked by actions that, taken together, make logical sense to the patient, though not to outsiders, including to the patient when coming back around. Taking up Nathans’s suggestion, I compose a fugue for Performing Flight’s conclusion, not just because of the musical and psychiatric term’s convenient etymological link to my study, but because it allows me to write about contrapuntal, seemingly irreconcilable subjects in the same space: aesthetics and terror, violence and the sublime. Tis then is my beeline tracing lines of fight, looping and waggling back through some of the discourses in earlier chapters in which I, riskily, chose to devote the same performance analysis to atrocities such as the bombing of Hiroshima and the jet plane attacks of 9/11 as I did to early barnstorming performances, commercial airline pilots, and space age astronauts and space tourists. It’s a grave subject for a beeline, and one a bee wouldn’t choose on its own. It’s not the frst time bees have been pressed into service for human experiments in precarity. Remember that Daedalus the inventor used beeswax to fashion the artifcial wings he and his son Icarus used to escape Crete, where Daedalus had been imprisoned by Minos to pre-

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vent him from revealing the secrets of his infamous labyrinth. In Ovid’s account, Daedalus laid out feathers, beginning with small ones and overlaying them with long ones, to make the organic slanted (airfoil) shape seen in birds’ wings. “Ten he fastened them together with thread at the middle, and bees’-wax at the base, and, when he had arranged them, he fexed each one into a gentle curve, so that they imitated real bird’s wings.” Te beeswax was a real engineering coup on Daedalus’s part, and allowed for the “new invention” that would do nothing less than “alter the natural order of things.” But beeswax was tricky to work with, because of its delicate state of solidity, and even slight changes of temperature would soften it too much to hold its shape. Even as Daedalus worked at the wings, Icarus would, in addition to snatching at the downy wisps foating in the air around the workstation, impishly press his thumb into the “yellow bees’-wax, softening it,” and, thus, “in his play, hindered his father’s marvelous work.”2 We know what’s coming. Icarus did not have the right stuf. In spite of his father’s tutelage in the “dangerous art of fying” (damnosasque erudite artes)—his warnings not to fy too close to the sea to avoid weighing down his wings with moisture, or too close to the scorching sun to avoid melting them—the boy took delight in his experience of fying, and abandoning his guide, drawn by desire for the heavens, [Icarus] soared higher. His nearness to the devouring sun softened the fragrant wax that held the wings: and the wax melted: he failed with bare arms, but losing his oar-like wings, could not ride the air. Even as his mouth was crying his father’s name, it vanished into the dark blue sea, the Icarian Sea, called after him. Te unhappy father, now no longer a father, shouted “Icarus, Icarus where are you? Which way should I be looking, to see you?” “Icarus” he called again. Ten he caught sight of the feathers on the waves, and cursed his inventions. He laid the body to rest, in a tomb, and the island was named Icaria after his buried child.3

Honeybees’ fragrant yellow wax is an impressive building material, and bees rely on it to construct their hexagonal cells for storing honey and incubating their young. But to hold its shape, beeswax needs to stay between ninety-one and ninety-seven degrees Fahrenheit, the high end just shy of average human body temperature, which in itself might signal that it is not ft for human engineering. But this isn’t the lesson of Icarus’s


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story. Neither is it that humans overstepped their limits by daring to imitate the birds: Daedalus had things under control. He’d fgured out both the physics and the “dangerous art” of fying. It isn’t hubris on Icarus’s part that gets him in trouble, exactly, either. His tragic exceeding of the limits is not due to the arrogance displayed by Oedipus, for instance, or the foolhardiness of Ajax, or the greedy overconfdence of Midas. Icarus is a child. He was delighting in fight. His child’s mind didn’t grasp the precarity of straying from the stoic’s middle path that his father advocated. Te hamartia isn’t Icarus’s. It’s his father’s miscalculation in expecting his child to forego play as they escaped from abjection under imprisonment. Grownups in my hometown of Hayward, Wisconsin, on the other hand, pressed honeybees into service exclusively for children’s entertainment. It’s hard to believe now, but as a kid I had a pet honeybee on a string, which I got at the Sawyer County Fair one summer. Te sketchy apiarists who peddled the pet bees must have somehow removed the stingers from the insects without immediately harming them, because after my purchase the bee stayed by my side all day, resting on my arm or fying lazily beside me on the end of its leash. I even brought it along aboard the chair swing carnival ride, where we few together side by side. We soared, the both of us, each on a tether: me at the end of the chains that kept me from hurling of along my path of centripetal force, the bee at the end of the string that compromised its homing instinct to return to the hive. Together we altered the “natural order of things.” In fight, I was becoming-bee; tied to me, the bee was becoming-Scott. Like Deleuze’s wasp and orchid, we exchanged a bit of code—we were deterritorialized.4 I fear that while I became something more for an instant that day, it was not so for the bee. It was robbed of its bee-ness, divorced from its sting, divorced from its line. I brought the bee home and kept it in a cabinet in the headboard of my bed. It was dead by the end of the following day. I was sad, but it was probably a pretty awful end-of-life experience for the bee. As a child, Icarus-like, I couldn’t be expected to grasp the laws of nature that dictate bees shouldn’t be pets on a leash. Tat same fact of my child’s regard for nature’s rules also made me an easy mark for a carnival salesperson. Tis same kid, nearly every Saturday morning in my family’s house in Hayward, rose early to commence a half-day of morning cartoons on network television. Te fare was a mixed bag. Smurfs, Superfriends, and Loony Toons reruns were standard year after year, but there was a fair share of

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shows taking advantage of their particular pop culture zeitgeist that rarely lasted more than a season (Mr. T, Hulk Hogan’s Rock ’n’ Wrestling, and so forth). All of this was punctuated by Schoolhouse Rock and commercials for plastic toys and sugar cereal. To curate my morning, every half-hour or so I would cross to the television to manually crank the knob clockwise or counterclockwise between three of the four channels we got through the TV antenna (CBS, NBC, and ABC afliates out of Duluth, Minnesota—the fourth station, PBS, used weekends as a break from children’s morning programming). If I woke and turned on the television set too early on a given Saturday, the only thing on screen would be “snow,” the swimming, haptic, unstriated feld of white static (electromagnetic noise and even cosmic microwave background radiation from the Big Bang) that occupied the airwaves between the end of each network’s programming day and the beginning of the next one. Like all the channels, Duluth’s NBC station KBJR-Channel 6 began its broadcast day, after a moment of color bars, with a rendition of “Star Spangled Banner” accompanied by waving American fags. Channel 6, though, ran a very compelling broadcast-day opener immediately following the national anthem, and I would time my own Saturday schedule to begin with it as well. Te opener was a short Air Force promotional flm from 1979 called “High Flight,” named after the John Gillespie Magee, Jr., poem I quote in the epigraph to this concluding chapter. “High Flight,” the flm, was a celebratory homage to the United States’s military might in the skies, depicted by way of a loving tribute to a McDonnell-Douglass F-15 Eagle fghter jet. Te flm begins, interestingly, with what seems to be a nod to the service people who make up the Air Force, but reads now as a celebration of 1970s labor and diversity: the opening shots comprise a montage of Air Force service personnel, engineers, mechanics, and so forth, prepping fghter jets for takeof in the dawn’s early light. Te background music is a funky upbeat arrangement of horns and synthesizers. Tere’s a striking preponderance of women and people of color among these workers, all laboring as one in their olive drab coveralls as they diligently and efciently execute the upkeep and preparation of the fghter jets, with their engines and apertures, wheel chocks, and wing faps. We also see the fghter pilots during this montage, checking in at a dispatching desk, riding out to the airfeld in a van, and boarding the F-15s. At this point, there’s a shift in the music, and the funky horns give way to a graceful waltz-time arrangement of synthesizer, piano, and strings,


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as the fghter jets are cleared for takeof from the control tower. From there, the duration of the flm is dedicated to the technological impressiveness and, dare I say, beauty of the F-15.5 Te jet commences loops, spins, rolls, hammerheads, and other aerobatic maneuvers against snowy white clouds high above the earth. At this point, Magee’s “High Flight” is read aloud by William Conrad, World War II fghter pilot turned radio and flm actor.6 As Conrad reads the closing lines, his sonorous voice becomes low and reverent—so low that “Face of God” slows to an unvocalized smoky rattle. As Conrad concludes the poem, we see the F-15 gliding away from the viewer, silhouetted directly against the sun on a lingering, powerful synthesizer chord. Te poem “High Flight” was written by nineteen-year-old Magee in 1941 when he was serving in England as a fghter pilot for the Royal Canadian Air Force in World War II. Magee penned the sonnet after he’d climbed to an altitude of ,000 feet in a Spitfre Mark I. Inspired by the profound experience of the high-altitude fight, he wrote the poem on the back of an envelope shortly after landing and mailed it home to his parents. Magee died a few weeks later in a midair collision between his Spitfre and an Airspeed AS.10 Oxford during practice maneuvers. “High Flight” has since become a beloved poem among pilots, astronauts, and air and space enthusiasts. It is the ofcial poem of the Royal Canadian Air Force and the Royal Air Force. It is often recited at funerals for pilots. Ronald Reagan read it aloud when he addressed the nation after the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster in January 1986, and the poem is reproduced in full on the back of the Challenger Memorial at Arlington Cemetery. To say that the “High Flight” television short is a nationalistic and jingoistic artifact of Cold War propaganda is an understatement. And its spot as a lead-in to Saturday-morning cartoons and commercials made me and other early-rising children easy targets. I was complicit, week after week, in my own indoctrination into rah-rah patriotism, my heart swelling with the calculating synthesizer beats as my mirror neurons melded with the moves of the F-15, kinesthetic empathy kicking in and synapses fring as if I myself, Icarus-like, were looping and rolling through the clouds. I was deterritorialized: afectively becoming-F-15. Notably, the F-15’s explicit links to combat and violence were not to be seen in the short flm. Te fghter jet was an implement of war, but here its role was to aerobatically accompany a moving bit of folk poetry, just as the dozens of commercials for war-themed toy sponsors such as G.I. Joe action fgures and play

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sets I’d see in the next several hours were only abstractly about violence and never about actual death. Here, a military aircraft is momentarily put into the service of the sublime. All us young Icaruses were easy marks for those hawking the wares of the military industrial complex. “High Flight,” from my perspective now, is a poignant index of the airplane’s toggle between thing of beauty and thing of destruction, and a reminder that the technology of fight has always been intimately enmeshed with the technology of war. As I observed earlier, airplanes and spaceships have always been fundamentally wrapped up in the war industry. In the past century, war and national defense have been the main drivers of aviation innovation, and the commercial air vehicles that we use every day have benefted from the advances, adapting engines, wing design, navigation systems, and other aspects of planes that were originally developed for military aircraft. Te factories that design and build the vehicles that safely take us to our destinations are the very companies contracted by our war-mongering nation-states, the nodes of the military industrial complex. But, as I’ve also shown, the military relies on the good will, or at least the ambivalent complicity, of the citizenry to pour taxpayer funds into aerospace research and design, and this involves some pointed dramaturgy and public relations theater. For the Mercury program, this included scripting, costuming, and storytelling to create a palatable and attractive profle for the Mercury astronauts—and, probably, the very use of human astronauts to begin with, since from an engineering point of view they were unnecessary for the Mercury missions. In many other cases, selling of the idea of enormous military expenditures to the taxpayers has involved an aestheticization and fetishization of the implements of war being produced. In the case of warplanes, the new craft introduced to engage in the latest confict must not only be faster, stronger, and more deadly—they need to be aesthetically pleasing, or at least cool-looking. Te Tomcat, the Spitfre, the B-17, the Patriot missile, the smart bomb, the Reaper drone—all these wartime products were designed to serve several purposes: to inspire fear and respect in our enemies, to make for great newsreels and network and cable TV news reporting, and, yes, to incapacitate or destroy aggressors and threats. For the F-15 fghter, which entered service in 1976, these have largely been threats to Israel and the Persian Gulf region. Tese craft come of the assembly line and enter the theaters of war while concomitantly entering the theaters of pop culture consciousness,


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their shapes occupying movie screens and the shelves of toy and hobby retailers. Te aerodynamics of the design no doubt do a lot of the heavy lifting here. Fighter jets and bombers, to efciently fy, come out looking smooth and sleek, like sea predators, and despite plenty of experimentation with other shapes, the fuselages of most warplanes hew to the phallic form that has enjoyed a spot in quintessential aesthetic categories since time immemorial. Sigmund Freud remarked on the winged phallus semiotics of airplanes, which for him connected the desire for fight with sexual anxiety. Freud, noting that the most common vulgarism in German for sexual activity was “volgen” (to bird) and that the Italian slang for penis is l’ucello or “the bird,” concluded that these and other similar linguistic fragments form “a mass of connected ideas, from which we learn that in dreams the wish to be able to fy is to be understood as nothing else than a longing to be capable of sexual performance.”7 If we buy Freud, airplanes are seductive because they play on our subconscious desires. Even putting Freud aside, airplanes continue to fulfll and shape our aesthetic categories. As things of spectatorial pleasure, they inform what we have seen on our big screens and now see on our small screens. As signs of upward mobility and progress, they are the phenomenon Adnan Morshed attributes to the rise in the twentieth century of the aesthetics of ascension. As passengers, we have limited access to the euphoria and prowess experienced by Magee and other pilots. Still, the radicality of the fying experience is always there. Tere is a little bit of Gertrude Stein in us that knows the airplane signals the end of any remaining progress to be made on the earth. Some passengers, like my own children, still even feel something akin to what investigative journalist Ida Tarbell observed when, in 191 , she agreed to report on an airplane ride. After landing, Tarbell had difculty rising from her seat, “so overwhelmed was I at the wonder of the thing . . . so supremely superior to any other emotion that I had ever experienced.”8 Morshed, Stein, Tarbell, Magee. Each fier lacks the precise language in prose to describe the sublime feeling of fying. Tarbell grasps at superlatives. Stein pronounces the end of an epoch. Magee looks to poetry and the metaphor of touching God’s face, which is at once a spiritual profundity and an arrogant desecration—a sacrilege  .  .  . perhaps even a blasphemy. To touch the face of God is to claim the ultimate transcendence of the surly bonds of earth, to assume the quality of godlikeness. It’s a breach, an eating of the forbidden fruit and acquiring knowledge reserved

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for a deity. Airplanes ofer not only a godlike feeling to pilots, but a revelatory knowledge hidden from those on the ground. Being airborne ofers a point of surveillance that doesn’t just embrace large swaths of earth, it reveals the orderliness and civilization of the human world to be fctions. From the airplane, wrote aviator journalist and poet Antoine de SaintExupéry, one can see the deception maintained by highways. Rectilinear roads link ground travelers from oasis to oasis, to “well-watered lands, so many orchards, so many meadows.” But “the airplane” writes SaintExupéry, “has unveiled for us the true face of the world.” It may seem that we have created a sustainable paradise for ourselves from the point of view of the ground, he explains, but it is all an illusion with which we delude ourselves regarding our vulnerable state. “[T]he essential foundation, the fundament of rock and sand and salt in which here and there from time to time life, like a little moss in the crevices of ruins, has risked its precarious existence.”9 For Gayatri Spivak, on the other hand, in her essay on “Planetarity,” the fctions that a ride in an airplane reveal are grounds for a more hopeful vision of the future. “My plane is fying now over the land between Baghdad, Beirut, Haifa, and Tripoli, into Turkey and Romania,” she writes. I am making a clandestine entry into “Europe.” Yet the land looks the same—hilly sand. I know the cartographic markers because of the TV in the arm of my seat. Planetarity cannot deny globalization. But, in search of a springboard for planetarity, I am looking not at [José] Martí’s invocation of the rural but at the fgure of land that seems to undergird it. Te view of the Earth from the window brings this home to me.10

Stephen Groening takes up Spivak’s observations from the plane in Cinema Beyond Territory. Spivak’s view of the world out the window, which lacks the cartographic borders that cut up the territories on the small digital screen mirroring and mediating her view, is not one of pastoral nostalgia, Groening argues, but, like an X-ray, one that reveals a radical new imagining of a “socially, topographically and politically unifed world.”11 Te X-ray in Groening’s analysis becomes a powerful metaphor for perceiving relations beyond those determined by political or social narratives on the ground. Like an X-ray, Spivak’s fight is a liberatory tool that through imagination deterritorializes and decolonizes the striated skies. To be sure, airplanes are capable of cutting through and revealing the


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constructedness of space like nothing before. Te airplane can move in multidimensionality, working not only all three Cartesian axes in space, but also nimbly bending over the curve of the earth, pushing against relativity, crossing multiple time zones, and chasing and overtaking sound waves. In a word, airplanes are rhizomatic. Tey are capable of transcending the striated grids of terrestrial highways and cutting new lines of fight through the atmosphere. But the X-ray has also been linked for decades to tools that have policed and regulated the skies by scanning passengers who wish for access, along with the possessions they take with them. Te skies have never really been free and capable of being rhizomatically transgressed, because ever since shortly after we learned to fy the sky has been striated and policed by federal regulations and militarizing. Any conceit that we are godlike when we take to the air is brought back to earth by the quotidian and ignominious rituals to which we subject ourselves as we pass through airport security, emptying our pockets, removing our belts, and raising our arms to be digitally scanned and sometimes patted down or wanded. Te security check is as undignifed as it is unsanitary: the shoes that have recently stepped in dirty puddles under the urinals of ticketing-area restrooms now share the same plastic bins with our keys, our wallets, our tubes of lip balm, and our handkerchiefs. And that’s the worst it gets for me, a white, middle-class, middle-aged man born in the U.S. It can be much more harrying for others. Te story of my time with the Pan Am Experience with which I opened the introduction comes back to me now. Te evening had been perfectly lovely, all the participants having been treated to a seemingly endless fow of chateaubriand and cocktails, no matter whether some of us few coach in real life. Te ticket to the Pan Am Experience included a tour afterward of the Air Hollywood warehouse full of sets and props they’d furnished to recent movies. Swaying gently on a cloud of gin and port wine, we ambled through the soundstage recreation of a luxury cabin where a scene from Wolf of Wall Street was shot. We saw behind the scenes of our own 747 cabin a surprisingly banal plywood shell supported by scafolding. We clowned around in the security gate used in the shooting of Bridesmaids. “No shoes! No belts! No loose change!” I shouted in my best TSA voice to my fellow tourists as I passed through the X ray scanner. “No Arabs!” laughed a man behind me. I turned to see a smartly dressed passenger, broadly smiling next to his plus-one, who looked striking in her sparkling

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evening gown but a little embarrassed at her date’s joke. Both were of Middle Eastern descent. “Tonight is the frst time I’ve had an airplane experience since 2001 where I haven’t been stopped for a ‘random check!’” the man continued, ruefully indicating the utopian quality of it all. It was true that the Pan Am Experience ofered an escape into a nostalgic golden age of air travel we might bookend with September 11, 2001. Pan Am had been out of business for nearly a decade by the time the hijackers blew up the twin towers. But if the golden age had ever again been within grasp, it was impossible after that September morning. I am one of relatively few performance scholars who have analyzed the actions of the September 11 hijackers in print as performance, probably because it is difcult to do so without immediately inviting a critique for mixing aesthetic concerns with immorality, or for disrespecting victims and their families by trivializing their trauma in making it the subject of academic parsing. I traced a brief lit review comprising scholars who precariously treat the attacks as performance in my last chapter. Sufce it to say here in the conclusion that the attacks were performative in that they, Daedalus-like, “altered the natural order of things” with the “dangerous art of fying.” Jet airplanes, implements of commerce and travel, and once even luxury, in a single morning became weapons of mass destruction. Te quotidian became menacing. Te commercial pilot (and no mistake, the hijackers were actual pilots with FAA licenses), heretofore an admired and trusted civic leader, became a cipher and potentially a mass murderer. Te line between commerce and destruction had become as nebulous as the line dividing the end of work and the beginning of performance. In some ways, the moment echoed the hairpin turn in the life of Paul Tibbets, the child fier who dropped candy bars becoming the deliverer of the single most violent bomb the world had ever seen. But Tibbets was engaging in an act of war in a specialized new warplane designed by a manufacturer contracted by a recognized nation-state to bomb targets better than any before, and moreover acting under presidential orders of that same recognized nation-state (though this wasn’t the case with his subsequent reperformances of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima). One of the many, many nightmarish aspects of 9/11—even approaching the third decade since the attacks we still struggle to grasp it—was the irreconcilability of civilian airplanes being used to kill, and in the bright daylight, without any precedent that would have made the attacks conceivable. Without precedent, maybe, except in the movies. In 1996 I had the


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opportunity to hear what I would also call a fugue history delivered by Dr. Spencer Golub, a guest lecturer at the University of Minnesota in my frst year of the PhD program in theater there. Golub wove a contrapuntal composition that Friday afternoon in an auditorium of the Weisman Art Museum. He began with a surprising anecdote about one of his students at Brown University, who had told him about a nightmarish incident in her own history in which a commercial jet engine had fallen out of the sky and crashed onto her family’s tennis court. It defed the rules of both airplanes (the engines are supposed to stay attached) and of the separation of domains (implements of commercial air travel have their spaces in airports and fight paths, families have their own domestic neighborhoods, and never the twain shall meet). He deftly wove this anecdote into an analysis of a scene from Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest, the scene in which Cary Grant’s Roger Tornhill is directed to a mysterious meeting at a desolate intersection in the fat and fallow cornfelds of Indiana, silently still except for a lone crop-dusting airplane in the distance.12 Te scene’s establishing shot gives a “God’s-eye view” of the rectilinear farmland, a grid of feld-dividing country roads extending to the horizon in every direction. Te next shots give us Tornhill’s “fy’s eye” point of view from the fat earth—we feel his solitary vulnerability in a vast expanse of tertiary colors lacking orienting signposts apart from the intersection at which he waits. Te quotidian rural space in the bright light and heat of midday is not a likely spot for what has become one of the most memorably scary scenes of suspense, but the suspense builds nonetheless as several possible contacts or threats to Tornhill’s safety, arriving excruciatingly slowly by car or bus from a vanishing point on the horizon, turn out to be red herrings. It takes our brain some catching up before we realize, with Tornhill, that the actual threat is the crop duster, a fimsy, ordinary if antiquated implement of agriculture seen from a distance, a deadly menace as it bears down on Tornhill from above. As the plane drones toward him, Tornhill’s face moves from detached interest, to focused attention—then confused alarm as he realizes he’s in the plane’s direct path and dives to avoid being hit. Can this really be happening? What a dreadful mistake, Tornhill’s expression seems to convey. Even as the plane comes around for a second pass at him, Tornhill’s face registers disbelief. It’s with the second strafe, followed quickly by a third, that we fnally get that this is not an accident but an attack, and that Tornhill is utterly vulnerable on the bare landscape, with nowhere to

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hide or seek shelter from the nightmare now swooping down on him from the sky. North by Northwest turns our world upside down by contrapuntally collapsing the divide between domestic airplanes and violent weapons. We experienced the sequence again, but all the more horrifying, the morning of September 11, 2001, when we went from surprised disbelief, to even more surprised disbelief, and fnally to the realization of our own vulnerability, as the frst, second, third, and fourth attacks came at us. But whereas the crop-duster scene allows analysis by flm bufs (9 minutes, 45 seconds long, 1 editorial cuts, a 56-second establishing shot, 2 1/2 minutes and 4 shots establishing POV, etc.13), the United and American Airlines jets turned deadly menaces on the morning of 9/11 continue to stymie our attempts at analysis, including my own. What I hope to have made clear, though, in the material on 9/11 as well as in the rest of my conclusion and throughout Performing Flight, is that the narratives of sublimity, of glory, of progress attending to the heavens and to the human plying of them start to become more specious the closer to the heavens our technology brings us. Further, I hope that these chapters have revealed that our positive connotations with “up” (the preposition, the valence, the destination) are idiosyncratic not only to our spatial relationship to earth and its gravity, but to our very historicity. Referencing the 9/11 terrorist attacks (echoed by the debris falling from the sky with the 200 space shuttle Columbia disaster), Laurie Anderson remarked on two new truths in her End of the Moon, the culminating performance of her two-year stint as NASA’s artist-in-residence. First, “from the air” is now where danger could come. “Second, that it would be that way from now on.”14 What if, then, the metaphors by which we gauge progress and success have become bankrupt? What if “up,” the destination to which our dreams and desires have pointed for millennia, is revealed to be resolutely inhospitable? What if our position on this “fundament of rock and sand and salt” relative to earth’s gravitational pull might be the very thing sustaining our “precarious existence”? I described the way my own body was slow to recover from a few minutes of weightlessness in Chapter 5, but it’s not an exaggeration to say that it’s also been taking me longer to recover from regular, more quotidian commercial fights, especially when it comes to my digestive system. And my wife can hear, sometimes from across the room, my inner ear crackling and popping when I swallow days after I get back from a conference. More soberingly, Naomi Klein wrote in


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the Guardian in 2014 that when she was having a difcult time conceiving, one of her doctors recommend she cut out all the fying she’d been doing for her research. “‘Because of the radiation,” the doctor explained. “‘Tere have been some studies done with fight attendants that show it might not be good for fertility.”15 And, as Scott Kelly’s year in space demonstrated, our bodies begin to fall apart just a few miles up. As I mentioned in the chapter on space tourism, Kelly’s organs, muscles, and even his DNA changed from his time in near-earth orbit. Tree years after his return, the New York Times reported, the declines showing up in Kelly’s cognitive test scores while he was stationed on the ISS have not corrected themselves.16 If Herbert Blau observed that the universal experience of live performance was watching someone die on stage,17 the astronaut performer’s mortality is accelerated before our eyes. Imagine Icarus and Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History having a conversation about us right now, regarding us with nothing but benevolence despite how we’ve broken their wings with our relentless insistence on altering the natural order of things. Tey may be trying to tell us we’ll never make it if we keep trying to stray from the middle path. Tey may be trying to tell us the Right Stuf is a narrative fction invented by the military industrial complex intent on selling us a bill of goods. What we call the sublime, they might recognize as the euphoria caused by the brain’s surge of electrical activity as it senses it is dying. Te surge flls near-death experiences with feelings of peace and tranquility, of touching the face of God. A recent study fnds that John Gillespie Magee, Jr., the nineteen-yearold Royal Canadian Air Force fier who with such profundity penned “High Flight” after his ,000-foot climb in a Spitfre, may have been sufering from hypoxia, a condition resulting in lack of oxygen to the brain in which high-altitude pilots experience the onset of symptoms such as elation, a confounding of the senses, and the changing of colors, among others. A few weeks before the fight that inspired his poem, investigative journalists with the BBC report, “Magee wrote in his logbook of experiencing symptoms of hypoxia—oxygen starvation—before he safely descended below 10,000 feet where the air is breathable.”18 Was Magee’s brain dying? Was this what elicited the compelling imagery in his sonnet? Is the new man of Morshed’s aesthetics of ascension a sick body with a failing system? Is our physiology revealed to be so much beeswax, its structural integrity collapsing if the natural order of things is altered?

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On the other hand, what if Magee wasn’t an Icarus at all: just a homesick nineteen-year-old kid, weaving together a fugue from some linguistic fragments he’d heard elsewhere? A book of poems called Icarus: An Anthology of the Poetry of Flight, published three years before Magee wrote “High Flight,” contains the phrases “And touched the face of God” in a poem by Cuthbert Hicks, and “on laughter-silvered wings” in a poem by G. W. M. Dunn, phrases shared by Magee’s poem.19 Te imagery in Magee’s sonnet could just as easily have been a fugue of his own—a kid, “drawn by desire for the heavens,” reconciling little bits of the poems that inspired him together with the highs of his own euphoric experience. Say then, on the other hand, that the skies and beyond could be hospitable after all. What if we even, as a human race, make it into outer space in a sustainable way? What happens to art? In February 2017, French astronaut Tomas Pesquet, aboard the International Space Station, partnered with artist Eduardo Kac back on earth to create what they imagined to be the frst work of art born entirely in space—that is, explained Kac to the New York Times, “created with materials that were already in the space station.” Te work, which Pesquet executed with two sheets of paper and a pair of scissors he didn’t himself bring from earth, took the form of a large paper capital “M” pierced through its center by a rolled-up paper tube. Tink of the tube as a capital “I” that you can look back at the earth through and you have Inner Telescope, the M and the I combining with the “O” of the paper eyepiece to spell moi. “Tis is a telescope,” explains Kac, “that from the stars we point to ourselves.”20 Kac and Pesquet’s Inner Telescope is more than a work of art born in space. It can exist as intended only in zero G. Aboard the space station, the paper artwork foats freely, each of its letters fully extended, the I perpendicular to the M at ninety degrees, the O parallel to the M. On the earth the work would collapse under its own weight before having a chance to hold its shape, its meaning, its visual punning—its aesthetic precision would be compromised by gravity. In chapter 5 I asked, drawing on Jessica Berson, whether the age of weightlessness would mean the end of good art. Perhaps I asked the wrong question. If the day comes when humans are no longer subject to earth’s gravitational pull, it would not be the art that worsens, but, as we forget the kinesthetic experience of weight and resistance, it would be our own ability to afectively resonate with art created before the space age that would begin to deteriorate.


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Fig. 12. “Inner Telescope” by Eduardo Kac. Photo by Tomas Pesquet. Used with permission.

What will art and performance look like after earth? Without weight, Martha Graham’s profound choreography will lose its power for spectators. Without up and down as reference points, we won’t as easily reel with Laurence Olivier’s Hamlet as he teeters on the ramparts of Elsinore above the jagged rocks and surf far below to establish the stakes of his “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Te space age may only be fully realized when our spatial metaphors, such as “God’s-eye view” from above, become as bankrupt as the relational notions of “above” and “below” and we develop brand new metaphors to understand and narrate our human experience. It’s hard to imagine, but not inconceivable. When I brought up the possibility with Amy Cook, who researches performance and cognitive science, she told me about the indigenous Aymara people of the Andean highlands. A generation ago, the Aymaras used spatial metaphors of “forward” and “ahead” to talk about the past, and “behind” to talk about the future, a surprising contrast to the way most of the rest of the world spatially apprehends the passage of time. “[I]t turns out,” write Rafael Núñez and Eve Sweetser, who research the Aymaras’ use of speech and gesture as spatial construals of time, “that Aymara and English could be seen as basing their temporal metaphor systems on somewhat diferent aspects of humans’ basic embodied experience of the environment.”21 As younger

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generations come into more and more contact with non-Aymaras, and their embodied experience changes as a consequence, these metaphors for construing the experience of time and space are being replaced with those of the world outside. Perhaps, too, all art will start over again, seeking new aesthetic criteria, with Inner Telescope as the initiating work—the earth growing smaller and more distant each time a new viewer gazes through it. With no up or down, no optic distance, perhaps art will once again approach the cave paintings Gilles Deleuze evokes in “Nomad Art: Space,” horizon and vanishing points becoming meaningless, the line, in all its fugitive mobility, once again escaping the striation of the earth’s stubborn geometry22

Notes Introduction Epigraph: Ernest K. McGann as quoted in the Ford Tri-Motor Exhibit Panel Text at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum 1. Gertrude Stein, Everybody’s Autobiography (Cambridge, MA: Exact Change, 199 ), 197; Sara J. Ford, Gertrude Stein and Wallace Stevens: Te Performance of Modern Consciousness (New York: Routledge, 2002), 28, 29. 2. See Pan Am Experience, Air Hollywood website. events/pan-am-experience/, accessed 10 September, 2018; Richard Guzman, “Relive ‘Te Pan Am Experience’ by Dining in a 1970s-Era Replica 747,” Press Telegram 6 October, 2014,, accessed 10 September, 2018. 3. Anthony Toth, personal interview, 21 July, 2018. 4. Tim Williams, public relations representative for the Pan Am Experience, listed Bridesmaids and Te Wolf of Wall Street among flms for which Air Hollywood has recently supplied sets (personal phone conversation, 26 June, 2018). A little over a year later I noticed Air Hollywood’s 747 cabin set in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time . . . In Hollywood. 5. Te Pan Am Experience cast draws from the Hollywood acting and modeling pool (Nicolette [stewardess], personal interview, 21 July, 2018). Anthony Toth always plays the captain. 6. Talaat Captan, personal telephone interview, 24 September, 2018. 7. It cannot go without mention that Captan was recently sued by a former studio manager and other women stafers for sexual harassment, including unwanted physical advances, making comments about their weight, and encouraging them to stay at Air Hollywood for after-hours porn shoots. Captan’s defense attorneys maintained his innocence, and the suit was settled out of court. (Gene Maddaus, “Hollywood Aviation Studio Hit with Graphic Sex Harassment Suit,” Variety,14 September, 2017, https://, accessed 25 May, 2018; California News Wire Services, “Studio Manager Accuses CEO of Coercing Stafers Into Porn,” hollywood/studio-manager-accuses-ceo-coercing-stafers-porn, accessed 25 May, 2018). 8. Natalie Kitroef, “Sara Nelson Is America’s Most Powerful Flight Attendant.” New York Times, Sunday, 24 February, BU 1, 7, 7. Sara Nelson, the international president of the Association of Flight Attendants, “has spoken out about eradicating sexual assault from the workplace” (7). See also Jamie Feldman, “For Flight Attendants, 147


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Sexual Assault Isn’t Just Common, It’s a Given,” sexual-assault-fight-attendants_n_5a0ddaf6e4b0b37054f55c15, accessed 25 May, 2018. 9. David Bell and Martin Parker, Space Travel and Culture: From Apollo to Space Tourism (Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell/Te Sociological Review, 2009), 2. 10. Bell and Parker, 2, . 11. Bell and Parker, . 12. Kamikazes! Nose Art! Barbie Doll astronauts twenty years ahead of their time! Howard Hughes! Skywriting! Tat scrapped Disney movie about gremlins that plagued Allied pilots during World War II! Te Tuskegee Airmen! Space Camp! Big-ticket teambuilding exercises where you escape from a simulated water landing as your fuselage flls with water! And how about that time in World War II when Seattle’s Boeing plant, which was cranking out warplanes such as B-17 Flying Fortresses, enlisted Hollywood to simulate an entire fake town on its roof to fool Japanese bombers? 13. Deleuze and Guattari, . 14. Massumi, “Notes on the Translation and Acknowledgments,” xvi. 15. I am told by French speakers voler also means “to steal,” as in “to abscond with” (Guillaume Tourniaire, Q&A after I delivered an earlier portion of this project at the University of Washington School of Drama, 2016). Te relationship between fight and absconding is mirrored in the English “to steal away.” 16. Deleuze and Parnet, 6. 17. Adnan Morshed, “Te Aesthetics of Ascension in Norman Bel Geddes’s Futurama,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 6 , no. 1 (Mar. 2004), 74–99, 81, citing Roland Barthes, Te Eifel Tower and Other Mythologies (1979), trans. Richard Howard (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 8–9. 18. Rhonda Blair and John Lutterbie, “Introduction: Journal of Dramatic Teory and Criticism’s Special Section on Cognitive Studies, Teatre, and Performance,” Journal of Dramatic Teory and Criticism 25, no. 2 (Spring 2011), 6 –70; 66; George Lakof and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: Te Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Tought (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 20; Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, Te Way We Tink: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities (New York: Basic Books, 2002).

Chapter 1 Epigraph: from the biography Bessie Coleman: Te Brownskin Lady Bird by Elizabeth Amelia Hadley Freydberg (New York: Garland, 1994), 86, citing “Bessie to Fly Over Gotham: Queen Bess to Ride Air Next Sunday,” Chicago Defender, 26 August, 1922, 1. 1. Te term “barnstormer” didn’t become common for stunt fiers until the late 1920s. Before that, they were referred to more commonly as “daredevils” or “gypsy fiers.” “Gypsy fyer” referred in particular to the type of reckless itinerant stunt pilots who took risks with unsafe airplanes; this class of pilots was eliminated through safety restrictions and legislation by the end of the 1920s. 2. Te Jenny was designed by Glenn Curtiss and Douglass Tomas in 1914. It was important chiefy for its tractor design (the propeller in front), since the Army banned “pusher” planes with the propeller behind the pilot, which tended to crush pilots on crash landings (Paul O’Neil, Barnstormers & Speed Kings [Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1981], 125; K. C. Tessendorf, Barnstormers & Daredevils [New York: Atheneum,

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 18–20


1988], 12–1 ). B. Douglass Tomas was a designer at the Sopwith Company in England. Glenn H. Curtiss was in London seeking design ideas for a tractor-engine plane. Curtiss was traveling to Paris that night, so he paid Tomas’s fare so he could ride along with him. Tey agreed to each design a plane within set guidelines, which Curtiss would build. Tomas drew up model J in England, Curtiss the model N in America. Curtiss invited Tomas over to work with him, and they combined the best qualities of both to make the frst JN, the “Jenny” (Tessendorf, 12–1 ). Jennys were well loved, though afectionately ribbed for being clunky and dirty. “A bunch of parts fying in formation” was the joke most often applied to them (quoted in several sources). 3. Don Dwiggins, Te Barnstormers: Flying Daredevils of the Roaring Twenties (New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1968), 18. 4. “[B]y the outbreak of World War I,” writes Sean Rossiter, “leadership in fight technology had passed to the Europeans, who had started the airplane on its way to becoming an instrument of mass destruction. How far behind the United States had fallen was shown by the nation’s main contribution to the war efort in the air, the Curtiss JN-4D ‘Jenny.’ It was nowhere near equal to the combat aircraft in action over Europe, even though it proved an overachiever on the home front” (Legends of the Air: Aircraft, Pilots, and Planemakers from the Museum of Flight [Seattle: Sasquatch Books, 1990], 12). 5. Tessendorf, 14. Te name “Jenny” evokes today a nice-girl-next-door image, but Jenny wasn’t popularly used as a diminutive for humans until the mid-twentieth century. Tessendorf’s phrase “too nice a girl to fght” more likely evokes “jenny” as the name in animal husbandry for a female donkey, more valued as a dependable beast of burden than for speed or for charging into battle. 6. Surprisingly, it did not take aspiring pilots long to learn to fy basic maneuvers. H. Barber wrote, in 1928, “Not so long ago it was a generally accepted theory that a frst-class pilot of an aeroplane could not be produced under the minimum of a year. Under present conditions the average young man can learn to handle an aeroplane and put it through all the known tricks of looping, rolling, nose-dive spins, side-slips, etc., after a period of instruction of approximately no more than from twenty to thirty hours of actual fying” (H. Barber, Aerobatics [New York: Robert M. McBride & Co. 1928], vii). Barber adds that he doesn’t recommend formation fying, aerial fghting, or cross-country fying with only thirty hours of fying experience. Captain Richard Duncan, author of the go-to aerobatic manual Stunt Flying, adds some additional necessities for the pilot. “All of us are acquainted with some wild, reckless young character totally irresponsible, who drives an automobile at top speed through the city streets regardless of life and limb. To the general public, this type of person would be considered as having all the qualities of a born fier. An entirely erroneous idea. Stability, conservatism and thoroughness, along with good judgment and the courage of his convictions, are the main assets of a good pilot” (Duncan, 1–2; emphasis in original). 7. O’Neil, 25. 8. Tessendorf, 27. 9. O’Neil, 29; cf. Martin Caidin, Barnstorming (New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 1965), 4. 10. Daredevils of the Sky, n.p. Te Wright Brothers can be credited with the frst aerobatic maneuvers, controlling lift and direction of their airplanes with “wing warping” (actually changing the shape of the soft canvas wings). Te next step was adding mov-


Notes to Pages 20–26 ________________________________________________

ing parts to rigid wings, allowing the development of controlled maneuvers such as loops, rolls, dives, spins, and countless variations of these. But the kind of stunt fying these innovations allowed to daring pilots was forbidden by the military, being too dangerous. After only a few weeks at war, however, maneuvers were quickly adopted and trained into pilots to aid in dogfghts against the German Fokkers. 11. Dwiggins, 1. 12. Johann Jarlbrink and Andreas Nyblom, “Early Aviation and the Press: Journalism, Advertising, and the Celebrity Pilot,” Skandia 78, no. 2 (2012), 5– 6. 13. Jarbrink and Nyblom, 6. 14. Dwiggins, 6. 15. Henry Serrano Villard, Contact! Te Story of the Early Birds (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1987), 144. 16. Dwiggins, 7. 17. Dwiggins, 10. 18. Dwiggins, 1 . 19. O’Neil, 50–5 . 20. Caidin, 72. 21. Caidin, 85. 22. O’Neil, 5 . 23. Coleman had copper-colored skin and white-looking features, according to family and the press. She put on costumed performances for her family members in which she would disappear into “caucasian” and “oriental” roles. And once a Chicago Herald reporter ofered to do a story on her if she agreed to pass for white. She refused (Doris L. Rich, Queen Bess: Daredevil Aviator [Washington: Smithsonian, 199 ], 7– 8; Jim Haskins, “Bessie Coleman,” Black Eagles: African Americans in Aviation [New York: Scholastic, 1995], 0). 24. Brandi Wilkins Catanese, Te Problem of the Color[blind]: Racial Transgression and the Politics of Black Performance (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2011). 25. Freydberg, 14, 106. 26. Freyberg, 64, quoting Robert E. Hemenway’s 1977 biography of Hurston). Freyberg credits Coleman’s contemporaries with making the connection to the recently canonized St. Joan as well. Te New York News sponsored the naming of an apartment building at 140th Street in Harlem in 1927. “It is regretted that colored Americans have not before now had the gratitude and vision to raise some enduring monument to this black ‘Joan of Arc.’” New York News, July 0, 1927. 27. Haskins writes that the falsehoods were savvy because of the time. Women were expected to be married by age twenty, and forty-year-olds were middle-aged. So the practice was not uncommon, and Coleman, through no fault of her own, was getting a late start (26). In addition to the lie about never having been married, Rich also fnds that there are no records that the French Nieuport Coleman claimed she’d ordered specially built for her was ever delivered ( 7). Rich defends Coleman’s choices: “Clearly Bessie was prone to exaggeration and not all of her stories were true. Still, she was no more guilty of enhancing her interviews with falsehoods than most of her pioneer aviator colleagues. She knew instinctively that in this postwar period of avid hero worship for cinema stars, athletes, and aviators, the more sensational the story, the better-known the storyteller. And with radio in its infancy and television not yet on the horizon, there remained only the newspapers to report and relate their activities to a naïve public of eager believers. . . . Bessie, even more than most of her colleagues

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 26–30


and competitors, quickly sensed that to succeed in this strange mixed world of business and entertainment and showmanship, a certain amount of embroidering the truth, of famboyance and fair, was a virtual necessity. And for a black fier, a story had to be sensational to grab the attention of the white press” ( 7). 28. Rich, 21. 29. Rich, 9. 30. Rich, 1. 31. Handbill that toured with documentary flm footage of her American and European fights (reproduced in Freydberg, xxi). 32. J. A. Jackson, a member of the Associated Negro Press and a columnist for Billboard, was particularly intent on smearing her in print after she dropped out of a movie deal he’d signed her into. More on this later in the chapter. 33. Freyberg, 92; Haskins, 8; Rich, 69. 34. Rich, 7 . 35. Freydberg, 86. 36. Haskins, 2. 37. Freydberg, 45. 38. Rich, 66. 39. Freydberg 50, 86. 40. Freydberg, 11. 41. Jill D. Snider, “‘Great Shadow in the Sky’: Te Airplane in the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921 and the Development of African American Visions of Aviation, 1921–1926,” Te Airplane in American Culture, ed. Dominick a. Pisano (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 200 ); citing “Home Guards Set Fire to Buildings While Airplanes Dropped Bombs on Homes in Negro District in Tulsa,” Negro World, June 18, 1921, 1. 42. Snider, 118, 120, 122. 43. Snider, 12 . 44. Snider, 1 5, citing “Aviatrix Must Sign Away Life to Learn Trade,” Chicago Defender, October 8, 1921, nat. ed., 2. 45. Haskins, 0. 46. Freydberg, 67, citing Elois Coleman Patterson’s unpublished memoir. 47. Haskins, 4. Tis alienated Jackson, who used his connections with Billboard and as a staf member of the Associated Negro Press to spread word that Coleman was unreliable and sufered from a southern dialect due to her humble beginnings. Tis probably contributed to the tough time Coleman had securing shows thereafter. 48. Rich 57, citing “Walking Out on Film,” Afro-American (Baltimore), December 1, 1922, 1 . 49. “New Home Base,” Houston Post Dispatch, 7 May, 1925, 4; Rich, 85; Freydberg, 9 . 50. Freydberg, 110. 51. Coleman, letter to Norman: Feb. , 1926. Reproduced in Freydberg, appendix, 129. Freytag maintains that Coleman had mastered melodrama and aviation, and was poised to enter a third platform of feature flm. Rich writes that it is unclear to what extent a future in flm was realistic for Coleman (101). Correspondence between Coleman and Norman seems to have ceased after Coleman broached the idea about Norman coproducing the picture, rather than Coleman paying for the entire project herself as Norman had inferred she’d do in a previous letter (101). 52. Freydberg, 91; “Florida Mayor Drinks Toast to ‘Brave Bess,’” Chicago Defender 15 May, 1926.


Notes to Pages 30–35 ________________________________________________

53. “First Texas Flight,” Houston Informer, 27 June, 1925, 1; “Juneteenth,” AfroAmerican (Baltimore), June 12, 1925, 1: Haskins, 40–41. 54. Rich, 86–87. 55. Rich, 91. 56. Rhonda Blair and John Lutterbie, “Introduction: Journal of Dramatic Teory and Criticism’s Special Section on Cognitive Studies, Teatre, and Performance”; George Lakof and Mark Johnson, Philosophy in the Flesh: Te Embodied Mind and Its Challenge to Western Tought (New York: Basic Books, 1999), 20; and Gilles Fauconnier and Mark Turner, Te Way We Tink: Conceptual Blending and the Mind’s Hidden Complexities (New York: Basic Books, 2002). 57. Tis is probably an oversimplifcation. What’s referred to as the strong SapirWhorf hypothesis (linguistic determinism) is that language determines that which it is possible to think. A more nuanced view of Derrida’s poststructuralism, perhaps, is that there are gaps (lacunae) in what is apprehensible because of the way language is relationally structured. In Foucault’s new historiography, we can only articulate what is allowed by our language of intelligibility, or within our own episteme of specifable relationships. 58. Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, What Is Philosophy?, trans. Graham Burchell and Hugh Tomlinson (New York: Verso, 1994). 59. Gilles Deleuze, “Rhizome vs Trees,” Te Deleuze Reader, ed. Constantine Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 199 ), 27–28. 60. Deleuze, “Rhizome vs Trees,” . 61. Gilles Deleuze, Foucault (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000), 118–19. 62. Florida Times Union, May 1, 1926, sect. 2, 1; Chicago Defender, May 8, 1926, 1; Dallas Express, May 15, 1926, p. 1. 63. Freydberg, 95–96. 64. Haskins, 47. 65. Rich, 111. 66. Florida Times Union, May 1, 1926. 67. Freydberg, 96–97. 68. From Ross. D. Brown, Watching My Race Go By. Feats, Facts and Faults of the Negro Race, 2nd ed.; Te Chicago Whip, February 28, 19 1, 1– 2, reproduced in Freydberg, xi–xii. 69. Freydberg, 5, citing Reader’s Digest (Nov. 19 9), 64–67. 70. Von Hardesty, “Introduction,” Black Aviator: Te Story of William J. Powell [formerly Black Wings (19 4)], by William J. Powell (Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1994), xvii. 71. Von Hardesty, xxi. 72. O’Neil, 9. 73. O’Neil, 60. 74. Rossiter, 15. 75. Deleuze and Guattari, 42 .

Chapter 2 1. Tracy C. Davis, Stages of Emergency: Cold War Nuclear Civil Defense (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2007), 9.

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 35–40


2. Davis, 10, citing “Address by Governor Val Peterson Before the Canadian Civil Defence College Arnprior, Ontario, Friday, July 8, 1955.” 3. We’d be targeted, even in sleepy northern Wisconsin, because of Project ELF, an underground low-frequency antenna in a military facility somewhere nearby that communicated with nuclear submarines, 1982–2004. 4. Susan Sontag, “Te Imagination of Disaster,” in Against Interpretation and Other Essays (Picador, 2001 (1966), 48. 5. Tere is no relation between Curtiss Aeroplane and Motor Company and Curtis Candy Company. Curtiss Candy Co. was founded by Otto Schnering, who used his mother’s maiden name when he founded the company in 1916 because of antiGerman sentiment. 6. Richard Goldstein, “Paul W. Tibbets Jr., Pilot of Enola Gay, Dies at 92,” New York Times, 2 November, 2007. 7. Peter J. Kuznick, “Defending the Indefensible: A Meditation on the Life of Hiroshima Pilot Paul Tibbets, Jr.,” Asia-Pacifc Journal: Japan Focus, January 2008, accessed 24 January, 2012,, citing Tibbets, in W. H. Lawrence, “5 Plants Vanished,” New York Times, 8 August, 1945, 1. 8. Eric Malnic, “Paul Tibbets, Pilot Who Bombed Hiroshima, Dies at 92,” Los Angeles Times, 2 November, 2007, 1. 9. Rodney Chester, “Result Excellent: Mission Over,” Courier Mail (Queensland, Australia), 6 August, 2005, 27; Jacquin Sanders, “Te Day the Bomb Dropped on Hiroshima,” St. Petersburg Times, 6 August, 1995, 1; Beser, 111, cited in Kuznick n.p. 10. Kuznick, citing Tibbets, in Richard Goldstein, “Paul W. Tibbets Jr., Pilot of Enola Gay, Dies at 92,” New York Times, 2 November, 2007, C11; Malnic, 1. 11. Adam Bernstein, “Paul Tibbets Jr.; Piloted Plane that Dropped First Atom Bomb,” Washington Post, 2 November, 2007, B7. 12. Wayne Tomis, “Fateful Moment Arrives; Atom Bomb Dropped,” Chicago Tribune, 20 March, 1968, 2. 13. See “Hiroshima: Tis Is Your Life” Conelrad Adjacent, 6 August, 2010, http://, accessed 16 July, 2014, and Allison Silverman, “Act I,” Tis American Life, Episode 428, “You Shouldn’t Have,” 4 March, 2011, transcript, accessed 16 July, 2014. 14. For testimonies, see for instance “Survivor Testimonies,” Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum Peace Database, col_testify, accessed 25 May, 2019); “Life After the Atomic Bomb: Testimonies of Hiroshima and Nagasaki Survivors,” Humanitarian Law and Policy Blog, International Committee of the Red Cross,, 9 August, 2016 (accessed 25 May, 2019); “After the Bomb: Survivors of the Atomic Blasts in Hiroshima and Nagasaki Share their Stories,” photographs by Haruka Sakaguchi, introduction by Lily Rothman, Time,, n.d. (accessed 25 May, 2019); Ishaan Taroor, “What It Was Like to Survive the Atomic Bombing of Hiroshima,” Washington Post, 27 May, 2016, 4320ca7c0c84, accessed 26 May, 2019. 15. Tibbets, 05. 16. Kuznick, n.p., citing Mike Hardin, “Just ‘Doing His Job’ at Hiroshima,” Globe and


Notes to Pages 41–46 ________________________________________________

Mail (Canada, online), 6 August 1985; Adam Bernstein, “Paul Tibbets Jr.: Piloted Plane that Dropped First Atom Bomb,” Washington Post, 2 November, 2007, B7. 17. Studs Terkel, Hope Dies Last: Keeping the Faith in Difcult Times (New York: New Press, 200 ), 54. 18. See “Hiroshima Bombing Re-Enacted Sunday,” Post Tribune (Jeferson City, MO) via AP, October 11, 1976. 19. Tibbets, 0 . 20. “Hiroshima Protests Show on Atom Attack,” New York Times, 1 October 1976, 4. 21. Tibbets, 04. 22. “Airsho[w] ’76 in Harlingen Texas, includes a simulated Atomic Bomb drop by Tibbets and planes from the Confederate Air Force,” 10 October, 1976, Critical Past fghter-plane_B-29-Superfortress, accessed 12 July, 2014. 23. Tibbets, 04. 24. Linda Hutcheon, A Teory of Adaptation (New York: Routledge, 2006), 17 . 25. “‘Enola Gay’ Pilot Drops Fake A-Bomb for Show,” Dallas Morning Star, 11 October, 1976, 10; John Saar, “Hiroshima Rerun an ‘Insult,’” Washington Post, 14 October, 1976, ; “Hiroshima Protests Show on Atom Attack,” New York Times, 1 October, 1976, 4; “U.S. Apologizes to Japan in Reenactment of A-Blast,” Los Angeles Times, 14 October, 1976, 1; “Japan Receives Apology for Texas ‘Bomb’ Show,” Dallas Morning News, 15 October, 1976, 4. Cited in Kuznick, n.p. See also “Hiroshima Reenactment In Texas Angers Japan,” Midland [TX] Reporter-Telegram, via Washington Post, October 14, 1976. See also “U.S. Apologizes to Japan for A-Bomb Reenactment,” Galveston [TX] Daily News via UPI, 15 October, 1976. 26. Ibid. 27. Tibbets, 05. 28. Tibbets, 05. 29. Tibbets, 05. 30. Tibbets, 05. 31. Bill Geerhart, “Too Soon? Te Hiroshima Reenactment Incident,” Conelrad Adjacent, Friday, 6 August, 2010,, accessed 12 July, 2014. 32. “A-Bomb Reenactment Dropped from Show,” Dallas Morning News, 29 September, 1977. 33. Richard H. Kohn, “History and the Culture Wars: Te Case of the Smithsonian Institution’s Enola Gay Exhibition,” Journal of American History 82, no. (Dec. 1995), 1046 34. See Martin Harwit, An Exhibit Denied: Lobbying the History of Enola Gay (New York: Copernicus, 1996). 35. See Edward T. Linenthal, “Anatomy of a Controversy,” History Wars: Te Enola Gay and Other Battles for the American Past, eds. E. T. Linenthal and T. Engelhardt (New York: Owl Books, 1996). 36. Paul A. Shackel, Memory in Black and White: Race, Commemoration, and the PostBellum Landscape (Walnut Creek, CA: Altamira, 200 ), citing Michael Wallace, “Te Battle of the Enola Gay,” Hiroshima’s Shadow, eds. Kai Bird and Lawrence Lifschultz (Stony Creek: Pamphleteer’s Press 1998). 37. Harwit, 289.

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 46–54


38. Eugene L. Meyer, “Target: Smithsonian; Te Man Who Dropped the Bomb on Hiroshima Wants Exhibit Scuttled,” Washington Post, 0 January, 1995, D1. 39. Linenthal and Engelhardt, “Introduction.” 40. Harwit, viii. 41. “USA: Washington: Enola Gay Exhibition Causes Protests,” Associated Press, YouTube, published on 21 Jul, 2015, 42. “ Arrested After Protest at Smithsonian Enola Gay Exhibit” AP News, appearing in Los Angeles Times, July, 1995. 43. Cary Carson, “Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall, Whose History Is the Fairest of Tem All?” Public Historian 17, no. 4 (Fall 1995), 61–62. 44. Frank Rich, “Journal; Te Nation’s Basement, New York Times, 22 June, 1996, html, accessed July 12, 2014. 45. Gar Alperovitz, Te Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: And the Architecture of an American Myth (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), 124. 46. Linenthal, “Anatomy of a Controversy,” 11, citing Uday Mohan and Sanho Tree, “Hiroshima, the American Media, and the Construction of Conventional Wisdom, Journal of American-East Asian Relations 4, no. 2 (1995), 157–59. 47. Davis, 6. 48. Dan Sewell, “Atomic Bomb Re-Enacting Dropped from Ohio Air Show,” Associated Press, 18 April 201 ,, accessed 17 July, 2014.

Chapter 3 1. Wolfe, 4– 5. 2. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), “US Civil Airmen Statistics,” 2015., accessed 7 September, 2015. At a hotel bar the night before I gave a talk at Western Michigan University, I found myself next to the captain who few the leg from Detroit to Kalamazoo that evening. I told him about my project. He told me in the course of our conversation that it was perennially harder for women, people of color, and members of other minority groups such as LGBTQ to enter the profession as commercial pilots, because of both the social challenges and the expenses involved in learning to fy. He had recently gotten wind that there would soon be federal subsidies introduced to assist these individuals, especially given that federal regulations for required fying time had increased. For the record, he also agreed that pilots use a diferent Chuck-Yeager-style voice on the PA than is their regular voice (Captain in Kalamazoo Hotel Bar, 10 October, 2017). Tere are currently several funding sources for minority scholarships listed on the FAA website ( grants_and_scholarships/minority/), but as of the time of this writing I have not confrmed whether new federal subsidies for minorities are coming. 3. For the purposes of this chapter, I will for the most part not be treating fight attendants’ performance, which is also a compelling and rich subject. See, for instance, Arlie Russell Hochschild’s Te Managed Heart, which treats how fight attendants’ “emotional labor,” which up to the twentieth century was confned largely to the private sphere, has been professionalized, commercialized, managed, and policed by the


Notes to Pages 54–57 ________________________________________________

airline service industry. Tis can result in fight attendants’ detachment and alienation from their own emotional habitus. Heather Poole’s Cruising Altitude is an autobiographical tell-all account of one fight attendant’s performative enterprise in dealing with unruly passengers, dangerous fying conditions and onboard crises, drama in the ranks of the fight crew, and the competitive and rigorous vetting and training required for the job. 4. As I write in my introduction, this book project is American in scope, and so I mainly discuss and interview commercial airline pilots currently working in the U.S. To be sure, the Chuck-Yeager-style voice I describe in these pages is mainly idiosyncratic to North American fiers. As an Air France pilot told me when I shared an elevator with her in Atlanta (one of only four women pilots I’d seen in a full day between SeaTac and Atlanta International Airports), French pilots do not speak like Chuck Yeager (Woman Air France pilot 15 November, 2017). Te mainly white demographic of my pilot examples is also not a global phenomenon with major commercial carriers in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. Te mainly male demographic of commercial pilots, however, is defnitely and stubbornly a global reality. 5. U.S. Department of Homeland Security, 2015, “United we Stand Campaign,” accessed 6 September 2015, 6. Tracy C. Davis, Stages of Emergency: Cold War Nuclear Civil Defense (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006), 6. 7. Gilles Deleuze, “Music and Ritornello,” Te Deleuze Reader, ed. Constantine Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 199 ), 201– ; 201. 8. John Caplinger, personal interview, 5 September, 2015. 9. Young Pilot outside SeaTac Gate Area, personal interview, 5 September, 2015. 10. Frank K. Naahielua, personal interview, 16 June, 2014. 11. Veronika O. Prinzo, “An Analysis of Approach Control/Pilot Voice Communications: A Final Report to the Federal Aviation Administration” (U.S. Department of Transportation, October, 1996). Prinzo fnds that “message content errors” or “speech act communication errors,” such as nonuse of the phonetic alphabet (“alpha,” “bravo,” and so forth), omission, substitution (“o” for “zero” or “nine” for “niner”), or partial delivery of numbers or words in accordance with FAA regulations can compromise efciency and air safety. Included in this list of errors is “dysfuency,” which includes “Pause(s), stammer(s), utterance(s), that add no meaning to the message (e.g., ‘uh,’ ‘ah,’ or ‘OK’ when not used as a general acknowledgment” [9]). Te nonverbal accentuations or fourishes that make the pilot voice distinct and calming (pauses, “uhs”), in other words, have no place in communications with the tower. “It is intuitively obvious,” fnds Prinzo, “that excess verbiage lengthened the amount of time required to transmit, understand, and respond to a message by pilots and controllers. Yet, an examination of the verbal content of requests revealed that requests such as ‘say again,’ often clarifed who was on frequency, who was the intended recipient of a transmission, and improved overall understanding. However, these additional communications also contributed to frequency congestion by increasing the number of transmissions needed to create a mutual understanding (or common ground) of the pilot’s intentions. Without these additional communications, the pilot and controller would not have reached a mutual belief, called the ‘grounding criterion,’ that the receiver had understood what the speaker meant. . . . Tese types of errors can result in trade-ofs between frequency congestion and failure to reach a common understanding, both of which can lead to problems” ( 0, citing Clark and Schaefer; Clark and Wilkes-Gibbs).

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 57–61


“Efective and accurate communications,” continues Prinzo, “are crucial to air safety. As aircraft approach their destination airport, they converge and operate under reduced separation minima. Commercial aircraft may be fying at speeds in excess of 80 knots during their en route phase of fight and reduce to speeds of 180 knots [i.e., speeds of more than .5 nautical miles per minute] in the terminal environment. Under these circumstances, there is little margin for error. When ambiguities arise from poorly constructed messages, it is critical for pilots and controllers to transfer information to one another as quickly and as efciently as possible so as to maintain or re-establish a common ground of understanding and to maintain their margins of safety” ( 0). 12. Patrick Smith, Cockpit Confdential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel (Naperville, IL: Sourcebooks, 201 ), 2. 13. Smith, 40. Arthur Bednar, an educator at the Museum of Flight, chalks the pilots’ calm demeanor up to their training. Bednar works with ex–fghter pilots, and recalls conversations he’s had with them as well as what they’ve written in their memoirs. “Someone’s trying to literally kill them, and they’re not freaking out about it. Tey’re going through their training, step by step, to handle it. . . . It has a lot to do with military training, pilot training. Tousands of hours of training that kind of get people prepared. Whether they’re astronauts, pilots, they’re doing a lot of training so that they’re prepared for certain situations and they kind of remain even keel the entire time” (Arthur Bednar, personal interview, 2015). 14. Dismissive Pilot at Denver International Airport, personal interview, 20 September, 2015. Most others who did not believe in a standardized “western” or “cowboy” pilot voice simply suggested it was a matter of regionalism. One pilot in the SeaTac gate area answered, “I don’t think that’s true [that there is a pilot voice]. It depends on where they’re from.” Ten, in a Chuck Yeager drawl, he added, “I reckon” (“I Reckon” Pilot, personal interview, 18 September, 2015. 15. Woman NonRev Pilot, personal interview, 18 September, 2015. 16. African American Male Captain Nonrev Passenger, 22 April, 2018. 17. Patrick Barry, personal interview, 5 September, 2015. 18. Wolfe, 51–52. 19. Diana Taylor, Te Archive and the Repertoire (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 200 ), 2– . 20. Philip Kaufman, “Te Right Stuf.” Sam Shepard fan site, n.d., accessed 7 September, 2015. 21. Alex Von Tunzelmann, “Te Right Stuf: Authenticity that’s Out of Tis World,” Guardian, 2 July, 2014, accessed 7 September 2015, flm/2014/jul/02/the-right-stuf-reel-history 22. Young Captain, Minneapolis Marriott Hotel Elevator, 5 November, 2019. 23. Bruckheimer, “Top Gun” post, 2 July, 2011, Accessed 7 September, 2015, http:// 24. Bob Salling, personal interview, 24 September, 2015. 25. See Barnaby Conrad, Pan Am: An Aviation Legend. (Emeryville, CA: Woodford Press, 1999). 26. “Airline Pilot Uniforms,” Wikipedia, n.d., accessed 1 December, 2015, https:// 27. Paul Fussel, who uses Erving Gofman’s frame analysis to describe the “dramaturgy” of pilot’s uniforms (and the cockpit as the “back region” where the pilots often


Notes to Pages 62–67 ________________________________________________

quickly take of their ties and jackets as soon as the fight deck door is locked), writes that “[i]n view of September 11, 2001 [ . . . ] [t]he more they resemble military and police personnel, and of the toughest and most disciplined kind, the better.” Paul Fussel, Uniforms: Why We Are What We Wear (Boston: Houghton Mifin, 2002), 88. 28. C. K. Dexter Haven, “Tis is Your Captain Speaking,” Te Straight Dope message board, 7 August, 2001, accessed 5 September, 2015, sdmb/showthread.php?t=80864. It is poignant to note that this conversation happened just a month before the September 11 attacks. 29. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Airline and Commercial Pilots,” 2015, accessed 7 September 2015, airline-and-commercial-pilots.htm 30. Nicolas B. Aziz, “Te Anomalistic Life of an African American Pilot,” Hufngton Post 21 March, 201 , accessed 7 September, 2015, nicolas-b-aziz/african-american-pilots_b_2895993.html 31. Michael L. Zirulnik, “Airlines’ Flight Decks Lack Diversity,” Te Hill 22 September, 2014, accessed 7 September 2015, 32. Oliver Smith, “Majority ‘Don’t Trust’ Female Pilots,” Te Telegraph, 4 November, 201 , accessed 15 December 2015,; see also Brooke Magnianti, “Could Women’s Squeaky Voices’ Be the Reason Many Brits Don’t Trust Female Pilots?” Te Telegraph, 5 November, 201 , accessed 15 December, 2015, http://www.; J. Edworthy, E. Hellier, and J. Rivers, “Te Use of Male or Female Voices in Warnings Systems: A Question of Acoustics,” Noise & Health 6, no. 21 (200 ), 9–50; G. Robert Arrabito, “Efects of Talker Sex and Voice Style of Verbal Cockpit Warnings on Performance,” Human Factors 51, no. 1 (2009), –20; and Ben Wolford, 201 , “Most Passengers Don’t Trust Female Pilots; 28% Question Women’s Ability to Handle Pressure” International Science Times (201 ), accessed 15 December 2015, passengers-distrust-female-pilots-stereotypes.htm 33. Oliver Smith, n.p. 34. See Patrick Smith; Oliver Smith; Magniatti. 35. Woman Pilot, SEA to MSP, 12 July, 2016. 36. Alain de Botton, A Week at the Airport (New York: Vintage, 2009), 75–76. 37. Scott Spangler, “Pilot Population & Demographic Stability,” Jetwhine, 20 March, 201 , accessed 7 September, 2015, 38. Caplinger. 39. Young Pilot. 40. Kristenson. 41. Cook, 77, citing Hatfeld et al., 5. 42. Corns, 14. 43. Corns, 1 8f. 44. Arons, 54, citing Dawkins, 206. 45. Arons, 155, citing Distin, 20 . 46. Personal impressiveness “ingredients” for the interview described in chapter of Airline Pilot Interviews include a strong positive attitude, a pure love of fying, a

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 67–73


strong safety-conscious attitude, captain potential (good judgment, motivating people around you, integrity, relating well to passengers/customers and other airline employees). Te future captain “performs well under stress,” is team-oriented, and looks, acts, and “dresses and speaks professionally on and of duty.” In all, the future pilot “creates a good public image” and projects “self-confdence.” Irv Jasinski, Airline Pilot Interviews: How You Can Succeed in Getting Hired, rev. ed., (Escondido, CA: Career Advancement Publications, 2002), 12–15. 47. Jasinski, 200, emphasis in the original. 48. Future Aviation Professionals of America (FAP) with David Massey, Airline Pilot: Let the Pros Show You How to Launch Your Professional Piloting Career (New York: ARCO, 1990). 49. Dan Hagedorn, personal interview, 24 September, 2015. 50. Young Pilot. 51. Caplinger. 52. Scott Rosenberg, personal interview. 5 September, 2015. 53. Kate Greene, who participated in the study, writes about the fndings in “An all Female Mission to Mars,” Slate, 19 October, 2014, accessed 7 September, 2015. 54. Dottie Metcalf Lindenberger, “You Are Go for Lunch” talk, Museum of Flight, 11 May, 2019. 55. Virgin America’s 2006 animated safety video, Delta’s safety information series of videos (2012f) featuring a traditional fight attendant narration but with visual puns and quirky vignettes illustrating the rules of conduct, and Virgin America’s musically choreographed 201 video are standout examples in the U.S. Gizmodo contributor Alissa Walker compiles several in her post “Te 12 Best Airline Safety Videos, Reviewed,” Gizmodo, 1 November, 201 , accessed 7 September, 2015, http://gizmodo. com/the-12-best-airline-safety-videos-reviewed-1454868194 56. Other quips included “We never anticipate a loss of cabin pressure. If we did we wouldn’t have come to work today,” and that the refreshment service included beverages for purchase: “Five dollars for beer, liquor, and cheap wine.” She fnished her safety demonstration by asking those who were paying attention to raise their hands. “Good luck to the rest of you,” she said in mock sympathy. 57. Nels Kristenson, personal interview, 28 November, 2015. 58. Salling; Pat Fitzpatrick, personal Interview, 24 September, 2015; Dick Paul, personal interview, 24 September, 2015.

Chapter 4 1. Te NASA director of public information coached his team to present annual and semiannual reports to Congress. “In a very real sense,” he wrote in a 1958 memo, “these documents must be considered as ‘sell presentations’” (1958 Memorandum, quoted in Jennifer Rudeseal Carter, “View from the Bird Watch: Media, Memory, and America’s Mercury Astronauts,” PhD dissertation, University of Southern Mississippi, 1996, 54. 2. Early attempts by John F. Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy to introduce people of color into the astronaut pool for Gemini and Apollo missions were unsuccessful. Trough support of the White House, the frst African American astronaut candidate, Edward Dwight, Jr., was admitted to the training program at Edwards Air Force Base in 1962. Once there, however, his attempts to ft in with the other trainees were stone-


Notes to Pages 73–74 ________________________________________________

walled by order from program commandant Chuck Yeager. Holding that the program was being used as a political tool for Civil Rights, Yeager ordered his instructors to make it difcult for Dwight to succeed. If the others “failed to speak, drink, or fraternize with him, Dwight would be gone in six months” (Robert Stone and Alan Andres, Chasing the Moon: Te People, the Politics, and the Promise that Launched America into the Space Age [New York: Balantine, 2019] 116-117)]. Demographics of astronaut crews slowly began to change with NASA’s STS (space shuttle) program in the 1980s, when specialist astronauts were no longer required to be pulled from the ranks of fghter pilots. George Abbey, former director of the Johnson Space Center, director of fight operations and of the Flight Crew Operations Directorate, oversaw the selection of all astronauts for much of the late seventies and the eighties, deliberately recruiting astronauts among minority students in college engineering programs. “But we got the best,” he told audience members in Seattle in 2018: the selection of astronauts was “not necessarily purposefully identity-minded” (George Abbey, discussant, “Te Astronaut Maker: How One Mysterious Engineer Ran Human Spacefight for a Generation,” with Michael Cassutt. Museum of Flight, 8 December, 2018). 3. Tom Wolfe, Te Right Stuf (New York: Picador, 1979), 14 . 4. Adnan Morshed, “Te Aesthetics of Ascension in Norman Bel Geddes’s Futurama,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 6 , no. 1 (Mar. 2004), 74–99, 81, citing Barthes, 8–9. 5. John W. Finney, “Space Monkeys Flown to Capital to See Doctors and the Press: Rocketed Animals to Get Physical Check and Undergo a News Conference—Test Data Called ‘Encouraging,’” New York Times, 0 May, 1959. 6. “Late in December Eisenhower directed that NASA select the astronauts from among the 540 military test pilots already on duty, even though they were rather overqualifed for the job. Te main thing was that their records were immediately available, they already had security clearances, and they could be ordered to Washington at a moment’s notice. Te specifcations were that they be under fve feet eleven and no older than thirty-nine and that they be graduates of test-pilot schools, with at least 1,500 hours of fying time and experience in jets, and that they have bachelor’s degrees ‘or the equivalent.’” (Wolfe 59); See also C. C. Alexander, J. M. Grimwood, and L. S. Swenson, 160–61. Tis New Ocean: A History of Project Mercury  (Washington, DC: NASA History Series, 1986),, accessed 11 March, 2016. 7. Wolfe, 58. 8. Astronaut Michael Collins, in his memoir, describes the attitudes toward the Mercury 7 astronauts from the point of view of the test pilots at Edwards (those who had been passed over in the selection for the frst men in space). “Man, they were here to fy not to be locked up in a can and shot around the world like ammunition,” they held. “Tey were master craftsmen, artists, they were Jonathan Livingston Seagulls— they few, in smooth control, in command. . . . In Project Mercury, on the other hand, one rode; granted there had been only one Mercury fight so far, Al Shepard’s ffteenminute up-and-downer, but he was a passenger, man, a talking monkey” (Carrying the Fire [New York: Farrar, 2009 (1974)], 25). 9. “‘Picture Window’ in Capsule,” New York Times, 26 January, 1960. Te Mercury Seven were selected with an eye toward backgrounds in engineering, and from the beginning were intended to “contribute directly to the development of the space

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 74–79


capsule.” John W. Finney, “Astronauts Begin Work Next Month,” New York Times, 10 April, 1959. 10. Wolfe, 150f. 11. Wolfe 60, 150–5 , 220. 12. Adam Bruckner, personal interview, 25 February, 2016. 13. Wolfe, 116. 14. Adam Bruckner, personal interview, 25 February, 2016. 15. Heide Stefanyshyn-Piper, personal interview, 24 February, 2016. 16. A recent press conference for Russian women astronauts reveals that sexism persists. See Tom Hale, “All-Female Flight Test Crew Asked How Tey Will Cope Without Make-Up or Men in Space,” IFL Science, 0 October, 2015, http://www.ifscience. com/space/all-female-moon-flight-test-crew-asked-how-they-will-cope-withoutmake-or-men-space, accessed 11 March, 2016. 17. Martha Ackmann, Te Mercury 13: Te Untold Story of Tirteen American Women and the Dream of Space Flight (New York: Random House, 200 ), 166. 18. Ackmann, 152–55. 19., accessed 17 March, 2016, from the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library Archives. See also Martha Ackmann, Te Mercury 13, and Tanya Lee Stone, Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared to Dream (Somerville, MA: Candlewick, 2009). 20. See “Biographies of Seven Men Selected as Nation’s First Space Pilots,” New York Times, 9 April, 1959. 21. “Scientists Give Space Trip Data: Astronaut Will Circle Earth and Land in Atlantic—Parachutes Slow Fall,” New York Times, 10 April, 1959. 22. John W. Finney, “7 Named as Pilots for Space Flights Scheduled in 1961,” New York Times (10 April, 1959), 1, , . 23. Finney, . 24. Finney, . 25. Te term “astronaut” had been in circulation already, but variously referred to science fction characters or scientists who were developing technology for a future space program, such as Werner Von Braun. See Waldemar Kaempfert, “A Sober View of Space Travel Emphasizes Physiological and Psychological Hazards,” New York Times, 26 July, 195 . 26. Maverick, Tom Cruise’s protagonist, is a macho fghter jock supreme. When he’s not hotdogging by doing inverted 4G dives with MiG-28s while fipping the bird at his bogey pilot antagonists, or racing Tomcats taking of from the airstrip on his Kawasaki Ninja, he’s convincing costar Kelly McGillis’s Charlie to have sex with him. When his initial attempts to impress Charlie with an a cappella rendition of “You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling” involving all the rest of the men in the bar don’t work, he boldly follows her into the women’s restroom and confronts her there with his propositions. Charlie is won over, the better to become the nurturing woman who fnally helps Maverick get in touch with his sensitive side and cry over the death of his buddy, Goose. 27. Jennifer Carter notes that Wolfe’s book, based on a series of New Journalism articles he wrote for Rolling Stone in the late 1970s, was composed from the point of view of his present moment, and, in Ed Cohen’s words, “fctioned” history by “blurring the opposition between fact and fction” (Carter, quoting Ed Cohen, “Tom Wolfe and the Truth Monitors: A Historical Fable,” Clio [Fall 1986], 1), 42.


Notes to Pages 79–88 ________________________________________________

28. John M. Logsdon, with Roger D. Launius, eds., Exploring the Unknown: Selected Documents in the History of the U.S. Civil Space Program, Vol. VII in Human Spacefight: Projects Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo (Washington, DC: Te NASA History Series, 2008). 29. Wolf, 115. 30. “Information Rules Set on Space Men,” New York Times, 14 May, 1959. 31. Wolfe, 124. 32. Robert Sherrod, “Te Selling of the Astronauts,” Columbia Journalism Review 12 (May/June, 197 ), 68. Quoted in Carter, 4. 33. Carter, , 2. 34. Collins, 24. 35. Collins, 26. 36. Collins, 26–27. 37. Collins, 27. Behaviorists debate the efectiveness of hands on hips and other “power moves” in conveying authority. See “Hands on Hips,” Center for Nonverbal Studies, 1998,, accessed 10 March, 2016, citing Miriam D. Blum, Te Silent Speech of Politicians  (San Diego: Brenner Information Group, 1988). See also Wolfe: “Tey were told what to drink at the social get-togethers in Houston: they should drink alcohol, in keeping with the pilot code of Flying & Drinking, but in the form of a tall highball, either bourbon or Scotch, and only one. Tey were told how to put their hands on their hips (if they must). Te thumbs should be to the rear and the fngers forward. Only women and interior decorators put the thumbs forward and the fngers back” (Wolfe, ). 38. “Astronauts Will Wear $ ,750 Space Suits,” New York Times, 24 July, 1959. 39. Nicholas de Monchaux, Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2011), 24. 40. de Monchaux, 81. 41. de Monchaux, 95, citing Scott Crossfeld with Clay Blair, Always Another Dawn: Te Story of a Rocket Test Pilot (New York: World Publishing, 1960), 255. 42. de Monchaux, 68, citing “Spaceman Seen as Man-Machine,” New York Times, 22 May, 1960, 1. 43. Collins, 59. 44. Erving Gofman “Performances: Belief in the Part one is Playing,” Te Performance Studies Reader, 2nd ed., ed. Henry Bial (London: Routledge, 2007). 45. Wolfe, 256. 46. Wolfe, 257. 47. Wolfe, 257. 48. Mercury 6 transcript,, accessed 1 November, 2016). 49. “Telephone Conversation with the Apollo 11 Astronauts on the Moon,” 20 July, 1969, P-690714, Nixon Presidential Library archives, forkids/speechesforkids/moonlanding/moonlandingcall.pdf, accessed 1 November, 2016. 50. Collins, 409. 51. Collins, 459. 52. “Soviets Falling Behind.” Panel. Armstrong Air and Space Museum. 53. “Astronauts Fear a Russian ‘First’: Eager to ‘Get the Tin Can Flying’—Feel Odds for Success are Favorable,” New York Times, 20 December, 1959.

________________________________________________ Notes to Pages 88–95


54. Quoted in Wolfe, 189. 55. Mike Lombardi, Boeing historian, “Journey to Mars: Lessons from Apollo” public address, Museum of Flight, 24 September, 2015.

Chapter 5 1. Michael Gonchar, “Would You Want to be a Space Tourist?” New York Times, 5 November, 2014,, accessed 15 March, 2017, n.p. 2. By the summer of 201 , celebrities who’d booked trips to space included Justin Bieber, Ashton Kucher, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Angelina Jolie. “Justin Bieber Destined for Outer Space,” Te Two Way, NPR, 6 June, 2018, thetwo-way/2013/06/06/189298048/justin-bieber-destined-for-outer-space?live=1, accessed 12 September, 2018. 3. Anne Ball, “Space Tourism and Business Looking Up” VOA, 7 March, 2017, http:// html 4. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, “Performance Studies,” Te Performance Studies Reader, 2nd ed., ed. Henry Bial (New York: Routledge, 2007), 50. 5. Dean MacCannell, Te Tourist: A New Teory of the Leisure Class (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999 [1976]), 89, 91. 6. John Urry, Te Tourist Gaze, 2nd ed. (London: Sage, 2002). 7. Adnan Morshed, “Te Aesthetics of Ascension in Norman Bel Geddes’s Futurama,” Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 6 , no. 1 (Mar., 2004), 74–99, 81 citing Barthes, 8–9. 8. Gibson Dirk, Commercial Space Tourism: Impediments to Industrial Development and Strategic Communication (Bentham E-Books, 2012), 2. 9. Erika Harnett, personal interview, 1 March, 2017. 10. Christian Frei, dir., Space Tourists, flm, Switzerland, 2010. 11. Brier Dudley, “Q&A with Charles Simonyi: Space Trip was ‘Rich, Fascinating,” Seattle Times 2 April, 2007,, accessed 26 May, 2019. 12., accessed 17 March, 2017; Gene Meyers, president and CEO of Space Island Group, plans to ofer this kind of leisure space travel sometime in the coming decade (Travis Carter, “Vacation: Te Final Frontier: Less than a Decade from Now, Space Hotels Will Ofer a Zero-G Getaway,” NYU Livewire, l4 April, 2006, accessed 15 March, 2017. 13. Michael S. Bowman, “Looking for Stonewall’s Arm: Tourist Performance as Research Method,” Opening Acts: Performance in/as Communication and Cultural Studies, ed. Judith Hamera (Tousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2006). 14. Once NASA suspended its microgravity program in 2014 (it had been used for the flm Apollo 1 ), Zero-G became the only commercial U.S. program. Zero-G now contracts with NASA (or researchers from NASA who pay Zero-G through their grants from NASA and other foundations). 15. Carolyn Giardina, “‘Te Mummy’: Behind the Scenes of that Zero-G Stunt,” Te Hollywood Reporter, 12 June, 2017, mummy-behind-scenes-zero-g-stunt-1011921, accessed 12 September, 2018.


Notes to Pages 95–104 _______________________________________________

16. Alyssa Sage, “Watch: OK Go Filmed a Music Video Entirely in Zero Gravity,” Variety, 11 February, 2016,, accessed 12 September, 2018. 17. Zero Gravity Corporation website,, accessed12 June 2018. My emphasis. 18. Anderson, qtd. in Appler, 9. 19. “How It Works,” Zero Gravity Corporation Website, index.cfm?fuseaction=Experience.How_it_Works, accessed 12 June, 2018. 20. Tis breaks down to about a thousand dollars an hour, or seventeen dollars per minute. I got a media discount of 20 percent reduced admission. Friends and family members accompanying the participants could purchase a cheaper package, a mere $200, which included everything but the fight. 21. One of the coaches explained that the modifcations were minimal, in that the jet did what any other commercial jet was equipped to do, but that the fuid lines were adapted to prevent cavitation in the fuids with the rapid drops and increases in pressure. 22. “I don’t really keep any stats,” says Yaniec. “But it amounts to a rule of thirds— one third violently ill, the next third moderately ill, and the fnal third not at all.” (Glen Golightly, “Flying the Vomit Comet Has Its Ups And Downs,”, 20 October, 1999, 23. More than a couple passengers had done this before. Our party included celebrity thrill seekers such as Alan Eustace, the world-record “space diver” (high-altitude free-fall skydiver). 24. See, for instance, Julie Beck, “When Nostalgia Was a Disease,” Te Atlantic, 14 August, 201 ,, accessed 10 September, 2018; Filiberto Fuentenebro de Diego and Carmen Vaiente Ots, “Nostalgia: A Conceptual History,” History of Psychiatry 25, no. 4 (December, 2014), 404–11; Kathleen Stewart, “Nostalgia—A Polemic,” Rereading Cultural Anthropology, ed. George E. Marcus (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1992); Jean Starobinski, “Te Idea of Nostalgia,” Diogenes 54 (Summer, 1966), 81–10 . 25. Jessica Berson, Te Naked Result: How Exotic Dance Became Big Business (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016), 12. 26. Berson points out that strippers who acknowledge weight and resistance are more sexy and possess more political agency than willowy, drifting, stoned-looking women swaying to the music. Berson here draws on performance scholar Rebecca Schneider’s claim in Te Explicit Body in Performance that women sex workers, “[b]y showing the show of their commodifcation, by not completely passing as that which they purport to be . . . can talk or gesture back to the entire social enterprise which secret(s) them” (19). 27. Milan Kundera, Te Unbearable Lightness of Being, trans. Michael Henry Heim (New York: Harper Perennial, 1999), 248. 28. Nadia Drake, “Beyond the Blue Marble: From Space, the Majesty of Earth Can Be Difcult to Describe, but Tese Astronauts Will Try,” National Geographic 2 , no. (March 2018), 72. 29. Te thumb-pointing-up gesture as a positive sign existed before WWII, and in diferent cultures around the world. Te jury is still out on whether the Roman em-

_______________________________________________ Notes to Pages 104–11


peror actually gave a thumbs-up in the Colosseum to spare a gladiator’s life, as we see in pop culture representations—some historians argue it was more likely a thumbsdown gesture, meaning “swords down.” 30. Scott Kelly, “Astronaut Scott Kelly on the Devastating Efects of a Year in Space,” Te Age, 6 October, 2017,; studies confrmed that Kelly’s DNA gene expression levels were forever altered from a year in space (Katherine Hignett, “Scott Kelly: NASA Twins Study Confrms Astronaut’s DNA Actually Changed in Space,” Newsweek, 9 March, 2018). scott-kelly-astronauts-nasa-dna-838535) 31. Deleuze, “Nomad Art: Space,” 166. 32. Deleuze, “Nomad,” 166–67. 33. Deleuze, “Nomad,” 167. 34. Deleuze, “Nomad,” 165–66. 35. Deleuze, 166. 36. Deleuze, 169. 37. Deleuze, 172. 38. Harnett. 39. China uses the metal to make, for instance, aluminum products, “So in a globalized world, you might be wrapping your sandwich in an old spaceship.” Space Tourists. 40. Dirk, 6 , citing Daily Launch, American Institute of Aeronoautics and Astronautics, 26 January, 2009, 4. 41. Ross Martin, Michael Mills, and Darin Toohey, “Potential climate impact of black carbon emitted by rockets,” Geophysical Research Letters 7,  Bibcode:2010GeoRL..3724810R.  doi:10.1029/2010GL044548; Adam Mann, “Space Tourism to Accelerate Climate Change,” Nature, October 22, 2010.  42. Matt Mofett, “Space Invaders: Brazilian Villagers Launch Protests of Rocket Base. Descendants of Slaves Claim Land Rights In the Jungle; Disturbing the Natural Spirits,” Wall Street Journal, 9 October, 2008, SB122351030853317377, accessed 15 March, 2017. 43. Mofet, “Space Invaders.”

Chapter 6 1. Qtd. in Ann Pellegrini, 114. Tis is the same Stockhausen, by the way, who has written opera pieces to be performed in helicopters as part of his Aus Licht cycle. Ben Miller, “‘Licht’ Unleashes a Helicopter String Quartet,” New York Times, 24 May, 2019,, accessed 29 May, 2019. 2. John Fletcher, “Ten Foot Pole Historiography,” Querying Diference in Teatre Historiography, eds. Scott Magelssen and Ann Haugo (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, UK: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007), 22. 3. John Fletcher, “Sympathy for the Devil,” Teatre Historiography: Critical Interventions, eds. Henry Bial and Scott Magelssen (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 111, 117. 4. Fletcher, “Sympathy,” 114. 5. Fletcher, “Sympathy,” 114–15. 6. Christopher, 116.


Notes to Pages 112–20 _______________________________________________

7. Rustom Bharucha, Terror and Performance (London: Routledge, 2014), 61. 8. Bharucha, Terror, 61. 9. Bharucha, Terror, 27. 10. Bharucha, Terror, 45. 11. Richard Schechner, Performance Studies: An Introduction, 2nd ed. (New York: Routledge, 2006), 274. 12. Bill Nichols, “Te Terrorist Event,” in Ritual and Event: Interdisciplinary Perspectives, ed. Mark Franko (London: Routledge, 2007), 94. 13. Nichols, 94, quoting Maurice Blanchot, Te Writing of Disaster (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 28. 14. Nichols, 94. 15. Unless indicated otherwise, information and descriptions regarding the particulars of the 9/11 attacks are from Tomas Kean et al., Te 9/11 Commission Report, published by the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks, 22 July, 2004, www.9– , accessed 15 September, 2018. 16. Bin Laden outlines al-Qaeda’s reasons for the fght against the U.S., which he claims is legislated and permitted by Allah, in his 2002 “Letter to America.” Tese include the perceived anti-Islam attacks and aggression perpetrated by the U.S. in Somalia, the Philippines, Chechnya, Lebanon, and Kashmir; support for the State of Israel (regarded as an unlawful and criminal occupation); sanctions against Iraq; and the exploitation of the Middle East’s resources through “international infuence and military threats.” Te letter also exhorts the U.S. to give up its secular government, change its treatment of women and the environment, take the nation back from “the Jews,” give up its hypocritical claim to the legitimate control of weapons of mass destruction, withdraw from Muslim lands, and remove support of corrupt leaders therein. (“Full text: Bin Laden’s ‘Letter to America,’” Nov. 2002, Te Guardian, 24 November, 2002,, accessed 15 September, 2018.) 17. We know of other al Quaeda operatives who were also considered for the role of pilot-hijacker. Te frst to arrive in January of 2000 were Khalid al-Midhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi. Tey arrived in San Diego in January 2000 to begin fying training, but did not do well in their initial lessons, and so were replaced and moved into the role of “muscle hijackers.” Ramzi bin al-Shibh was originally planned to be the fourth pilot, but was unable to obtain a visa, and was replaced by Haniour. Saeed al-Ghamdi, one of the hijackers aboard United Flight 9 , had taken simulator training and may have been Jarrah’s copilot. 18. Te 9/11 Commission report indicates that the hijackers stormed the cockpits and stabbed the pilots and fight attendants. Te hijackers led by Haniour on fight AA 77, which crashed into the Pentagon, may not have killed the crew, according to the Report, but rather moved them to the back of the plane with the other passengers. 19. Tis frst announcement went to air trafc control in Boston. It is unclear whether passengers heard it (Atta may have pressed the button for the tower and not the cabin). 20. Fedele Azari, quoted in Gerald Silk, “Our Future Is in the Air: Aviation and American Art,” Te Airplane in American Culture, ed. Dominic A. Pisano (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 200 ), 284. 21. Bharucha, 61.

_______________________________________________ Notes to Pages 120–26


22. 9/11 Memorial & Museum website,, n.d., accessed 26 May, 2019. Te memorial opened to the public on 12 September, 2011. 23. Scott Magelssen, “Living History Museums and the Construction of the Real Trough Performance,” Teatre Survey 445, no. 1 (May 2004), 71–72. Originally delivered as a plenary presentation at the American Society for Teatre Research, November 2011. Referencing Cathleen McGuigan, “Out of the Rubble,” in Newsweek (8 October 2001), 12; Herbert Muschamp, “Filling the Void: A Chance to Soar,” in New York Times, Sunday, 0 September, 2001 (§2, 1, 6– 7); Deborah Solomon, “From the Rubble, Ideas for Rebirth,” in New York Times, Sunday, 0 September, 2001 (§2, 7); and “What to Build: Two Architects, an Urban Planner, a Structural Engineer and a Landscape Designer Consider the Future of Ground Zero,” moderated by Terence Riley, in New York Times Magazine (11 November 2001), 92–94, 96; Suzan-Lori Parks, “Te America Play,” in Te America Play and Other Works (New York: Teatre Communications Group, 1995), 157–99. 24. D. J. Hopkins and Shelley Orr, “Memory/Memorial/Performance: Lower Manhattan, 1776/2001,” Performance and the City, eds. Hopkins, Orr, and Kim Solga (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave, 2009), 44, 45. 25. Daniel Liebeskind was selected to design the original master plan for the rebuilt WTC site, and his design called for the footprints of the North and South Towers to be preserved for memorial space, which would then be surrounded by new buildings, including One World Trade Center. Individual building and memorial designs were awarded to separate architects and frms. Davis Brody Bond designed the underground 9/11 museum, and Snøhetta designed the above-ground pavilion leading into it. 26. “Facing Crisis: America Under Attack,” Northern Light Productions, 9/11 Museum & Memorial. 27. Te hijackers are not numbered among the passengers or the crew in the death count in the panel’s text. American Airlines Flight 11 left the airport with eighty-one passengers and eleven crew members, United Airlines Flight 175 with ffty-six passengers and nine crew; American Airlines Flight 77 with ffty-eight passengers and six crew; and United Airlines Flight 9 with thirty-seven passengers and seven crew. 28. Alisa Chang, “How to Talk about a Mass Shooting Without Glorifying the Shooter,” All Tings Considered, National Public Radio, 20 March, 2019, https://www.npr. org/2019/03/20/705252715/how-to-talk-about-a-mass-shooting-without-glorifying-the-shooter, accessed 0 May, 2019. 29. Philip Kennicott, “Te 9/11 Memorial Museum Doesn’t Just Display Artifacts, It Ritualizes Grief on a Loop,” Washington Post, 7 June, 2014,–9f5c9075d5508f0a_story.html?utm_term=.3204e54f94a7, accessed 2 June, 2019. 30. Kate Briquelet, “Activists Want 9/11 Memorial Brochures in Arabic,” New York Post 14 September, 201 ,, accessed 29 May, 2019. 31. Te Committee had fled a complaint with U.S. Housing and Urban Development, which helped fnance the museum in 2015, and the settlement was announced in November 2017. “ADC Secures Arabic Translation at the 9/11 Memorial Muse-


Notes to Pages 126–36 _______________________________________________

um,” ADC American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee website. http://www.adc. org/2017/12/adc-secures-arabic-translation-at-the-911-memorial-museum/, accessed 29 May, 2019. 32. In the 2001 Teatre Journal Forum on Tragedy, for instance, Diana Taylor looks to Genet and Tennessee Williams; Harry J. Elam to Arthur Miller and Tony Kushner; Amy Villarejo to Walter Benjamin and Giorgio Agamben; Freddy Rokem to Benjamin again, vis-à-vis Hamlet. Michal Kobialka looks to Tadeusz Kantor and Samuel Beckett. Jill Dolan looks to Octavia Butler. Sue-Ellen Case looks back to the Greeks, as does Elin Diamond, with a nod to the suferings of Job. Jill Lane looks to Reverend Billy; Antonio Prieto to Picasso; Brian Singleton to Synge; José Esteban Muñoz to Adrian Piper and Guillermo Gomez-Peña. Richard Schechner looks to Artaud; Janelle Reinelt to Sartre, and so forth. Marvin Carlson perhaps approaches my project most closely when he opines that we could seek meaning in the convenient structures of melodramas such as Star Wars (Marvin Carlson, 1 4). Such meaning-making is relative to one’s point of view in the world. To many, Osama bin Laden would be cast as the Darth Vader character and George W. Bush as Luke Skywalker. Many others in the world would see bin Laden as Skywalker, boldly taking on the Empire’s Death Star in his comparatively tiny space plane. 33. Michel de Certeau, “Walking in the City,” Te Practice of Everyday Life, Steve Rendall, trans. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 91. 34. de Certeau, 92. 35. Rebecca Schneider, “Patricide and the Passerby,” Performance and the City, eds. D. J. Hopkins, Shelley Orr, and Kim Solga (Houndsmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire, UK: Palgrave 2009), 59, citing de Certeau, 92. 36. Marla Carlson “Looking, Listening, and Remembering: Ways to Walk New York after 9/11,” Teatre Journal 58, no. (Oct. 2006), 95–416, 95.

Conclusion 1. Heather S. Nathans, “Is Tere Too Much ‘History’ in My Teater History? Exploring the Roles of Jewish Actors and Audiences in the Early National Playhouse.” Teater Historiography: Critical Interventions, eds. Henry Bial and Scott Magelssen (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2010), 46, 45–57. 2. Metamorphoses, Book VIII, 18 –2 5, trans. A. S. Kline, Te Ovid Collection, University of Virginia, 3. Ovid, Metamorphoses. 4. Gilles Deleuze, “Rhizome versus Trees,” . 5. F-15s are not exactly attractive. Stubby and boxlike, with one too many tailfns, they look like someone was overzealous decorating a pack of cards with triangle shapes to make it look like an airplane. But, by the luck of my own timeline, they were the quintessential fghter-jet shape for me, just like the 1974 Corvette Stingray, introduced the same year as the F-15, is my sports-car shape. 6. Conrad originated the role of Matt Dillon in the radio version of Gunsmoke, but I know him best as the narrator of Te Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. “High Flight” had a number of iterations and remakes. Te one I grew up with is available on YouTube: the “High Flight” short, produced in cooperation with the United States Air Force, 1978,, accessed 15 September, 2018. 7. Sigmund Freud, Leonardo da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood (New York: W.

_______________________________________________ Notes to Pages 136–42


W. Norton, 1964), 75–76. Quoted in “Te Surly Bonds of Earth,” by Tom D. Crouch, in Te Airplane in American Culture, ed. Dominic A. Pisano (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 200 ), 205. 8. Ida M. Tarbell, “Flying—Dream Come True,” American Magazine 76 (November 191 ), 66. Quoted in Roger Bilstein, “Te Airplane and the American Experience,” in Te Airplane in American Culture, ed. Dominic A. Pisano (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 200 ), 18. 9. Saint-Exupéry, Airman’s Odyssey (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Co., 19 9), 58. Quoted in “Te Surly Bonds of Earth,” by Tom D. Crouch. In Te Airplane in American Culture, ed. Dominic A. Pisano, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 200 ), 210. 10. Gayatri Spivak, “Planetarity,” in Death of a Discipline (New York: Columbia University Press, 2005), 9 , quoted in Stephen Groening, Cinema Beyond Territory: Infight Entertainment in Global Context (London: British Film Institute, 2014), 55–56, 55. 11. Groening, Cinema, 56. 12. Spencer Golub, lecture, University of Minnesota, 11 October, 1996. I emailed Dr. Golub asking if he had the text of this talk on fle. He fgured he might, but probably stored somewhere hard to fnd in an obsolete format such as a 1/2 inch foppy disk. Te now-faded handwritten notes I scrambled to take from his lecture are pretty opaque to me nearly two dozen years later. Neither of us, then, could really provide a detailed account of his talk that day. My description here is based on memory and my viewing again of North By Northwest in the present. 13. wemisse, “North by Northwest: Deconstruction of a Scene,” Alfred Hitchcock Blog, accessed 14 September, 2018. 14. Laurie Anderson, End of the Moon excerpts. Posted on Produtora’s YouTube channel, accessed 25 May, 2019. See also Vivian Appler, “Moonwalking with Laurie Anderson: Te Implicit Feminism of End of the Moon,” Journal of American Drama and Teatre 28, no. 2 (Spring 2016). 15. Naomi Klein, “Te hypocrisy behind the Big Business Climate Change Battle,” Guardian 1 September, 2014. Tanks to Guillermo Aviles Rodriguez for this reference. See Laura Lauria, Terri J. Ballard, Massimiliano Caldora, Clelia Mazzanti, and Arduino Verdecchia, “Reproductive Disorders and Pregnancy Outcomes among Female Flight Attendants,” Aviation, Space, and Environmental Medicine 77, no. 5 (May 2006), 5 – 9. 16. Carl Zimmer, “Scott Kelly Spent a Year in Orbit. His Body Is Not Quite the Same,” html, 11 April, 2019, accessed 26 May, 2019. Astronaut Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger adds that individuals returning from missions in space take time to recover their neuro-vestibular capabilities (astronauts are not allowed to drive for a few days after coming home), their hearts atrophy, and their eyes are afected by changes in intraocular pressure. For Metcalf-Lindenburger, this does not mean that we should not go to space; “We’re still learning,” she says. Tese changes could be reversible, and we should also respect that veteran astronauts’ health information should “be private to ourselves” (Metcalf-Lindenburger, “You Are Go for Lunch,” 11 May, 2019). 17. Herbert Blau, Take up the Bodies: Teater at the Vanishing Point (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), 8 . 18. “Fighter Pilot Poet,” BBC Inside Out, 2 February, 2007, insideout/yorkslincs/series11/week7_poem_fying.shtml, accessed 15 September, 2018.


Notes to Pages 143–45 _______________________________________________

19. Cuthbert Hicks, “Te Blind Man Flies,” in Icarus: An Anthology of the Poetry of Flight, ed. Rupert De la Bère (London: Macmillan, 19 8), 100; G. W. M. Dunn, “New World,” in de la Bère, 186. 20. Frank Rose, “A Space Odyssey: Making Art Up Tere,” New York Times, 2 March, 2017,, accessed 15 September, 2018. 21. Rafael E. Núñez and Eve Sweetser, “Aymara Language and Gesture in the Crosslinguistic Comparison of Spatial Construals of Time,” Cognitive Science 0 (2006), 401– 450, 40 ; Amy Cook, personal correspondence with the author, 2 April, 2019. 22. Gilles Deleuze, “Nomad Art: Space,” in Te Deleuze Reader, ed. Constantine Boundas (New York: Columbia University Press, 199 ), 166, 172.


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Index 199 World Trade Center bombing, 112– 1 , 121, 124 2001: A Space Odyssey, 15, 94 9/11, 5, 8, 1 , 15, 71, 110–28, 1 0, 1 9–41, 158 n.27 American Airlines fight 11, 116–17, 123, 125, 141, 167 n.27 American Airlines fight 77, 116–17, 125, 141, 166 n.18, 167 n.27 hijackers, 15, 110–11, 11 , 114–20, 124– 26, 1 9, 166 n.17, 166 n.18, 167 n.27. See also Al-Qaeda and World Trade Center (Twin Towers), 112–14, 117, 119–21, 12 , 125–28, 1 9 and Pennsylvania crash, 11 –14, 117, 122, 125 and Pentagon, 11 –14, 117, 119, 122, 125, 166 n.18 United Airlines fight 9 , 116–17, 119, 125, 141, 166 n.17, 167 n.27 United Airlines fight 175, 117, 125, 141, 167 n.27 9/11 Memorial Committee, 121 9/11 Museum. See September 11 Memorial and Museum Abbey, George, 160 n.2 Abbott, Robert S., 12, 25, 27, 1 acts of transfer, 59 adaptation theory, 4 aesthetics of ascension, 10, 20–21, 64, 74, 92, 9 , 108, 1 6, 142 afect theory, 10, 61, 65, 101–2, 10 , 1 4 Agamben, Giorgio, 168 n. 2 Air America, 60 Air Force One, 44–45

Air Force One (flm), 60. Air Hollywood. See Pan Am Experience air shows, 12, 20, 0, , 41–45, 52, 1 9. See also barnstormers; Confederate Air Force Air Force Association, 45–46 Air France, 156 n.4 Airbus, 115 Airport, 60 Airspeed AS.10 Oxford, 1 4 al-Qaeda, 15, 115, 12 –25, 166 n.16, 166 n.17 al-Shehhi, Marwan, 115–17. See also 9/11, hijackers al-Masri, Mohammed Atef (Abdullah Ahmed Abdullah), 115 Alaska Airlines, 6 , 68 Aldrin, Edwin Eugene “Buzz,” Jr., 87 Alsbury, Michael, 91 American Airlines, 116–17. See also 9/11, American Airlines fight 11; 9/11, American Airlines fight 77 American Dream, 9 American Legion, 45 American Society for Teatre Research, 95, 120 Anderson, C. Alfred, Anderson, Eric, 91 Anderson, Laurie, 96, 141 Angel of History, the, 142 Ansari, Anousheh, 9 –94, 107–8 Apollo 13 (flm), 60 Apollo program (Project Apollo), 68, 71, 75, 80, 86–87, 88, 89, 124, 159 n.2 Arab-American Antidiscrimination Committee, 126, 167 n. 1 Arad, Michael, 121 185


Index _____________________________________________________________

Araki, Takeshi, 12, 4 Armstrong, Neil, 75, 86–87. See also Apollo program; First Man Arons, Wendy, 66 Artaud, Antonin, 111–12, 168 n. 2 astronauts, 7, 8, 14, 60, 68, 71–90, 82, 84, 91–94, 98, 102– , 107, 1 0, 1 5, 142, 14 , 148 n.12, 157 n.1 , 159 n.2, 160 n.6, 160 n.9, 161 n.16, 161 n.25 Atta, Mohamed, 115–17, 119–20. See also 9/11, hijackers atom bomb. See Hiroshima, bombing of; Manhattan Project Aymara people, 144–45 Azari, Fidele, 118–19 Bakhtin, Mikhail, 10 Balme, Christopher, 111 Banning, James Herman, Barbie dolls, 148 n.12 barnstormers, 5, 8, 11–12, 17– 4, 1 0, 148 n.1 Barthes, Roland, 10 Beckett, Samuel, 168 n. 2 bee, pet, 1 2 beeline, 1 0 Beeman, Edwin M., 27–28, 2 Beemans Chewing Gum, 27, 2 beeswax, 127, 1 0– 1, 142 Bell, David, 6 Bell X-1, 46, 55, 58. See also Glamorous Glennis Bell X-1A, 60 Benjamin, Walter, 142, 168 n. 2 Berson, Jessica, 101, 14 , 164 n.26 Bert the Turtle, 5. See also duck and cover Bessie Coleman Aero Club, Betsch, John T., 2 Bezos, Jef, 14, 91, 104 B.F. Goodrich, 81 Bharucha, Rustom, 111–1 , 119–20 Bieber, Justin, 95, 16 n.2 big aerospace, 6 Big Bang, the, 1 bin Laden, Osama, 115, 12 , 166 n.16, 168 n. 2 “Bitching Betty,” 6

black minstrelsy, 21 Black Nationalism, 25, 28–29 Blair, Rhonda, 10, 10 Blau, Herbert, 142 Blue Origin, 14, 91 “Blue Danube,” 15 Bockscar, 48. See also Nagasaki, bombing of Boeing Company, 148 n.12 Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress, 1 5, 148 n.12 Boeing B-29 Superfortress, 7–52. See also Bockscar; Doc; Enola Gay; Fif; Great Artiste, Te; T-Square Boeing 14 Clipper, 61 Boeing 727, 95, 97, 98. See also G-Force One Boeing 7 7-MAX, 5 Boeing 747, 2–5, 57, 1 8 Boeing 757, 115–16, 117. See also 9/11, American Airlines fight 77; 9/11, United Airlines fight 9 Boeing 767, 115, 117, 123. See also 9/11, American Airlines fight 11; 9/11, United Airlines fight 175 Boeing “Dash 80” 67–80, 50 Bonney, Walter T., 78 Bowman, Michael, 94 Branson, Richard, 91, 94, 104 Braque, Georges, 1 Brazilian Space Agency (formerly Brazilian Space Program), 109 Bruckheimer, Jerry, 60 Bush, George W., 124, 168 n. 2 Butler, Octavia, 168 n. 2 Cagle, Myrtle, 75–77 Capone, Al, 25 Captan, Talaat, –4, 147 n.7 Carlson, Marla, 127–28 Carlson, Marvin, 168 n. 2 Caron, George “Bob,” 9 carnivalesque, 10 Carpenter, Liz, 77 Carpenter, Malcolm Scott, 77, 78 Carson, Cary, 47 Carter, Jimmy, 44–45 Case, Sue-Ellen, 168 n. 2

_____________________________________________________________ Index

Catanese, Brandi Wilkins, 24 Chafee, Roger B., 89 Challenger, 71, 72, 119, 1 4 Challenger Memorial, 1 4 Chandrayaan-1, 108 “charm school” 80–81, 162 n. 7 Christo, 49 Cirque du Soleil, 94, 107 Civil Air Patrol, 6 Cobb, Jerrie, 75–77, 76. Cochran, Jacquelin “Jackie,” 77 Cody, Mabel, 22–2 , 4 Cody, William “Bufalo Bill,” 22 Cold War, the, 6, 8, 1 , 14, 16, 5– 7, 48, 51, 56, 66, 68, 70, 72–7 , 81, 87, 1 4, 15 n. Coleman, Bessie, 11–12, 17– 4, 24, 62, 106, 119, 150 n.2 , 150 n.26, 150 n.27, 151 n. 2, 151 n.47, 151 n.51 Colley, Russell, 81 Collins, Michael, 80–81, 8 , 86–87, 160 n.8 Columbia, 71, 89, 91, 119, 141 Columbus Quincentennial, 47 commercial air travel, 1–2, 1 –14, 5 –70, 1 9, 141–42. See also commercial airline pilots; fight attendants; pilot voice commercial airline pilots, 12–1 , 5 –70, 7 , 1 0. See also pilot voice Commercial Spacefight Federation, 92 community of practice, 66, 68 Concorde supersonic jet, 50 Confederate Air Force, 41–45 “continual drone sound,” 124 Conrad, William, 1 4, 168 n.6 Cook, Amy, 65, 144 Cooper, Gary, 59, 66 Cooper, Leroy Gordon, 78, 79, 82, 88 Corvette Stingray, 168 n.5 critical generosity, 110 Cronkite, Walter, 7 Crossfeld, Scott, 75, 81 Cruise, Tom, 60, 161 n.26 Curtiss JN-4D “Jenny,” 12, 18–19, 19, 22, 24, 26, 0, 2, 4, 8, 148 n.2, 149 n.4, 149 n.5 cyborg, 8


Daedalus, 104, 127–28, 1 0– 2, 1 9 daredevils. See barnstormers David Clark Company, 81 Davis, Douglas H., 2 , 8 Doug Davis Baby Ruth Flying Circus, 2 , 8, 42, 1 9 Davis, Tracy C., 5– 6, 4 , 51, 56 Dawkins, Richard, 66 Day After, Te, 6 de Botton, Alain, 64 de Certeau, Michel, 126–28 Deleuze, Gilles, 8–9, 18, 21, 1, 4, 56, 105, 1 0, 1 2, 145 Delta Airlines, 159 n.55 DeOrsey, Leo, 79 Derrida, Jacques, 152 n.57 deterritorialization, 4, 1 2, 1 4 Diamond, Elin, 168 n. 2 DiCaprio, Leonardo, 16 n.2 Dietrich, Janet, 75–77 Discovery, 50 Disney, 47, 148 n.12 Doc, 49 Dolan, Jill, 168 n. 2 Downey, Robert, Jr., 60 duck and cover, 5, 51, 56 Dunn, G.W.M., 14 Dwight, Edward Jr., 159 n.2 Earhart, Amelia, , 62, 106 Ebert, Roger, 10 –4 Edwards Air Force Base (formerly Muroc Army Air Field), 48, 54, 58–60, 74, 159 n.2, 160 n.8 Eisenhower, Dwight D., 46, 74, 160 n.6 Elam, Harry J., 168 n. 2 emotional contagion theory, 65 empathy, 102, 119–20 Enola Gay, 11, 12–1 , 7–52, 49, 1 9 environmental damage, 11, 108–9 Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum, 87 Expressionism. See German Expressionism Farman F.60 Goliath, 29 Fauconnier, Gilles, 10, 10 Federal Air Commerce Act, 4


Index _____________________________________________________________

Fif, 41–45, 49, 52 First Man, 60 Flash Gordon, 81 Fletcher, John, 110, 114 fight attendants, –5, 54, 56, 64, 68–69, 98, 101, 142, 147 n.8, 155 n. , 159 n.55, 159 n.56; 166 n.18 fying circuses, 21, 2 . See also air shows Flying Tigers, 60 Fokker Eindecker, 150 n.10 Ford, Harrison, 60 Ford, Sara J., 1 Ford Trimotor (Tin Goose), 1, 2 Foucault, Michel, 152 n. 57 Frei, Christian, 94, 107–8 Freud, Sigmund, 1 6 Friendship 7, 46, 84–86 fugue, 9, 16, 1 0, 140, 14 Funk, Wally, 75–77 Futurism. See Italian Aerial Futurists Gagarin, Yuri, 88 Gann, Ernest K. 1 Garriott, Richard, 9 Garvey, Marcus, 25, 28–29 Genet, Jean, 111–12, 168 n. 2 German Expressionism, 10 Gershwin, George, 1 G-Force One, 95, 97–100, 99, 164 n.21 G.I. Joe, 1 4– 5 Gibson, Mel, 60 Giuliani, Rudolph “Rudy,” 124 Glamorous Glennis, 46, 48, 55, 58 Glenn, Annie, 80 Glenn, John Herschel, 46, 77, 78–79, 8 – 86, 84, 88 Glennin, T. Keith, 78 Gofman, Erving, 8 , 92, 157 n.27 Golden Age of air travel, , 4, 1 9 Golub, Spencer, 140–41, 169 n.12 Gomez-Peña, Guillermo, 168 n. 2 Gorelick, Sarah, 75–77 Gorki, Maxim, 10 Gosling, Ryan, 60 Graham, Martha, 101, 144 gravity, 102–6, 14 , 164 n.26. See also weightlessness Great Artiste, Te, 8

gremlins, 148 n.12 Grissom, Virgil Ivan (Gus), 78, 89 Groening, Stephen, 1 7 Grumman F-14 Tomcat, 1 5 Guattari, Félix, 8, 21, 1, 4 gypsy fiers. See barnstormers Hagedorn, Dan, 67 Hamlet, 144, 168 n. 2 hands on hips, 81, 162 n. 7 Haniour, Hani, 115–17, 166 n.17, 166 n.18. See also 9/11, hijackers Hanks, Tom, 60, 66 haptic and striated space, 10–11, 21, 1, 105–6, 1 , 1 7– 8, 145 Harnett, Erika, 9 , 107 Harwit, Martin, 45, 46 Hart, Janey, 75–77 Hassenclever, Walter, 10 Hawking, Stephen, 95 Heyman, I. Michael, 46 Hicks, Cuthbert, 14 “High Flight” (flm), 15, 1 – 5, 168 n.6 “High Flight” (poem), 15, 129, 1 , 1 4, 142–4 High Road to China, 60 Hiroshima, atomic bombing of, 12–1 , 6, 7–52, 120, 1 0, 1 9 reenactments of, 12–1 , 41–45, 51, 52 Hiroshima Maidens, 40 Hitchcock, Alfred, 140–41 Hixson, Jean, 75–77 Hobbs, Margie (Ethel Dare the Flying Witch), 22, 27, 4 Hochschild, Arlie Russel, 101, 155 n. Hopkins, D.J., 121 House Committee on Science and Astronautics, 77 Hughes, Howard, 62, 148 n.12 Hurrle, Rhea, 75–77 Hurston, Zora Neale, 25 Hutcheon, Linda, 4 Huysmans, Joris-Karl, 10 hypoxia, 142 Icarus, 25, 2, 104–5, 106, 126–28, 1 0– 2, 1 4– 5, 142–4 Ingle, Gladys, 22, 27, 4

_____________________________________________________________ Index

Inner Telescope, 14 –45, 144 International Space Station, 11, 71, 75, 89, 91, 9 –94, 98, 142, 14 –45, 144 Italian Aerial Futurists, 10, 118–19 Jackson, J.A., 29, 151 n. 2, 151 n.47 Jarrah, Ziad, 115–17, 119, 166 n.17. See also 9/11, hijackers Jazz Age, 1, 81 Japanese Congress against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs, 4 –44 Jet Blue, 56, 61 JFK assassination. See John F. Kennedy Jim Crow, Joan of Arc, 25, 150 n.26 John F. Kennedy Space Center, 87 Johnson, Lyndon, 77 Johnson, Mark, 10, 10 Jolie, Angelina, 16 n.2 Julian, Hubert Fauntleroy, Kac, Eduardo, 14 –45, 144 Kamikazes, 148 n.12 Kantor, Tadeusz, 49, 168 n. 2 Kármán Line, 60, 105 Kaufman, Philip, 54, 59, 79. See also Right Stuf, the (flm). Kelly, Scott, 89–90, 104, 108, 141 Kennedy, John F., 89, 159 n.2 assassination, 71 Kennedy, Robert F., 159 n.2 Kincheloe, Iven C., 75 Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Barbara, 92, 94 kitsch, 102 Klein, Naomi, 141–42 Kobialka, Michal, 114, 168 n. 2 Kokoschka, Oskar, 10 Kopia, William “Wild Bill,” 20 Korean War, 66, 81 Kubrick, Stanley, 15, 94 Kucher, Ashton, 16 n.2 Kundera, Milan, 102 Kushner, Tony, 168 n. 2 La Grande Illusion, 62 Lakof, George, 10, 10 Laliberté, Guy, 9 –94, 107 Lane, Jill, 168 n. 2


Law, Ruth Bancroft, 22, 4 Leahy, William D., 46 Leverton, Irene, 75–77 Lewis, Robert A., 40 Liebeskind, Daniel, 167 n.25 Linenthal, Edward T., 45, 47 Lindberg, Charles, , 46, 62 Lindenberger, Dottie Metcalf, 68, 169 n.16 lines of fight, 8–11, 14, 16, 21, 4, 61, 105, 1 0, 145 linguistic determinism, 152 n.57 linguistic metaphors. See spatial metaphors “Little Boy.” See Hiroshima, bombing of Lockheed C-1 0 Hercules, 117 Lockheed 104F Super Constellation, 50 Lockheed SR-71A Blackbird, 50 Lombardi, Mike, 89 Lovelace Clinic, 74, 75–76 Lovelace, William Randolph, 75, 77 Lovell, Jim, 60 Lutterbie, John, 10, 10 MacCannell, Dean, 92 Mad Men, 4 Magee, John Gillespie, Jr., ix, 15, 119, 129, 1 4, 1 6, 142–4 Mamuna protestors, 14, 108–9 Man in Space Soonest (MISS) program, 60, 75 Manhattan Project, 7 Martin, Dean, 60 Massumi, Brian, 8 McCaullife, Christa, 71, 92 McDonnell-Douglass F-15 Eagle, 15, 1 – 5, 168 n.5 meme theory, 66, 68, 70 Memorial Plaza, 121–22 Mercury Atlas Intercontinental Ballistic Missile, 78, 84 Mercury Seven, 7 –89, 160 n.8, 160 n.9 Mercury Tirteen, 75–77 military-industrial complex, 6, 11, 18, 54, 60, 1 5, 142 Miller, Arthur, 168 n. 2 Mohammed, Khalid Sheikh, 115 Moisant, John, 21


Index _____________________________________________________________

Moisant, Matilde, 21–22, 4 Moon landing. See Apollo program Morshed, Adnan, 10, 20–21, 64, 74, 92, 9 , 1 6, 142 Mortake, Ichiro, 44 Mummy, Te, 95 Muñoz, José Esteban, 168 n. 2 Muroc Army Air Field. See Edwards Air Force Base Musk, Elon, 14, 91, 107 Museum of Flight, 49, 55, 60–61, 69, 87 Naahielua, Frank K., 56–57 Nagasaki, bombing of, 9, 40, 46, 47, 48, 50–51, 120 NASA, 9, 14, 60, 71–90, 72, 82, 84, 92, 95, 96, 159 n.1, 160 n.6, 16 n.14 Artist in Space initiative, 92 Artist-in-Residence program, 96, 141 Reduced Gravity program, 97, 16 n.14 Teacher in Space initiative, 71, 92 Nathans, Heather, 16, 129– 0 National Air and Space Museum. See Smithsonian Institution National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, 48, 87 Neil Armstrong Museum, 87, 88 “New Look” style, 81 Nichols, Bill, 11 –14 Nieuport fghter, 18, 150 n.27 Nixon, Richard, 87 Norman, Richard, 29, 151 n.51 North American X-15, 60 North By Northwest, 140–41, 169 n.12 nose art, 148 n.12 nostalgia, 101 Obama, Barack, 89 OK Go, 95 Olivier, Laurence, 144 Olsen, Gregory, 9 One World Trade Center (Freedom Tower), 121, 167 n. 25 Orr, Shelley, 121 Ovid, 1 1 Palaverkadu fshermen, 14, 108–9 Pan Am. See Pan American World Airways

Pan Am (television series), 5 Pan Am Experience, 2–5, 1 8– 9, 147 n.4, 147 n.5, 147, n.7 Pan American World Airways, 2–5, 15, 61, 94, 1 9 Parker, Martin, 6 Parks, Susan-Lori, 120 Parnet, Claire, 9 Pataki, George, 124 Patriot Act, 115 Patriot missile, 1 5 Peck, Gregory, 60 Pearl Harbor, 45 Pellegrini, Ann, 111 performance studies, 7 performance as research, 94, 109 performative historiography, 94 Pesquet, Tomas, 14 –45, 144 Peterson, Val, 5 philosophy of immanence, 1 Picasso, Pablo, 1, 168 n. 2 pilot voice, 1 –14, 5 –70, 7 , 116–17, 155 n.2, 156 n.4, 156 n.11, 157 n.1 , 157 n.14 Piper, Adrian, 168 n. 2 positivism, 11, 1 poststructuralism, 152 n.57 Powell, William J., Prieto, Antonio, 168 n. 2 Project ELF, 15 n. Project Gemini, 68, 80, 159 n.2 Project Mercury, 14, 46, 68, 7 –87, 76, 82, 84, 1 5 Quimby, Harriet, 21–22, 4 Reagan, Ronald, 1 4 Reaper drone (General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper), 1 5 Reinelt, Janelle, 168 n. 2 restored behavior, 94, 11 Reverend Billy, 168 n. 2 “Rhapsody in Blue,” 1 rhizome, 1, 61, 1 8 rites of passage, 97–98, 100, 104 Rice, Condoleezza, 124 Renoir, Jean, 62 Rich, Frank, 47 Right Stuf, the, 5 , 97, 1 1, 142

_____________________________________________________________ Index

Right Stuf, Te (book), 1 , 27, 5 , 74, 79, 161 n.27 Right Stuf, Te (flm), 1 , 54, 59, 79 ritornello, 56 Rokem, Freddie, 168 n. 2 Román, David, 110 Roy, Gladys, 22, 27, 4 Royal Air Force, 1 4 Royal Canadian Air Force, 22, 1 4, 142 Russian Space Agency, 89, 91 Sadako and the Tousand Paper Cranes, 6 Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de, 1 7, 141 Sartre, Jean-Paul, 168 n. 2 Saturday morning cartoons, 1 2– 4 Saturn V, 6 Schechner, Richard, 94, 11 , 168 n. 2 Schirra, Walter Marty (Wally), 78 Schneider, Rebecca, 127, 164 n.26 Scott, Tony, 79. See also Top Gun Selleck, Tom, 60 September 11 attacks. See 9/11 September 11 Memorial and Museum, 15, 111, 120–26, 123, 167 n. 1 Shepard, Sam, 1 , 54, 59 Shepard, Alan Bartlett, Jr., 78, 84–86, 160 n.8 Shuttleworth, 9 –94 Sikorski S- 8 and S-40 fying boat, 61 simmings of reifcation, 4 Simonyi, Charles, 9 –94 Singleton, Brian, 168 n. 2 Siskel, Gene, 10 –4 smart bomb, 1 5 Smith, Patrick, 57 Smithsonian Institution, 1 , 45–52, 87, 124 Steven V. Udvar-Hazy Center, 49–51, 49, 87 Susan Sontag, 1 , 6– 7, 120 Sopwith Camel, 18 Southwest Airlines, 61, 68 Soyuz rockets and spacecraft, 89, 91, 108 Space Camp, 148 n.12 space force. See United States Space Force Space Race, the, 14, 72–89, 124


space suit, 7 , 81–8 Navy Mark IV space suit, 81–8 , 82, 84 Space Shuttle program, 75, 89, 91, 98, 160 n.2. See also Challenger, Columbia, Discovery space tourism, 5, 8, 11, 14–15, 89, 91–109, 1 0, 16 n.2, 16 n.12 SpaceAdventures, 91 SpaceshipTwo, 91 SpaceX, 14, 91–92, 9 , 95 spatial metaphors, 10–11, 0– 1, 10 –6, 141, 144–45 Spirit of St. Louis, 46 Spitfre Mark 1, 1 4, 1 5, 142 Spivak, Gayatri, 1 7 Sputnik 1, 14 Slayton, Donald Kent “Deke,” 78 Sloan, Jerri, 75–77 Stefanyshyn-Piper, Heide, 75 Stein, Gertrude, 1, 1 6 Steven V. Udvar-Hazy Center. See Smithsonian Institution stewardesses. See fight attendants “Star Spangled Banner,” 1 Star Trek, 107 Star Wars, 6, 10, 60, 107–8, 168 n. 2 Star Wars Defense System, 5 Stedman, Bernice, 75–77 Stinson, Katherine, 22, 4 Stinson, Marjorie, 22, 4 Stockhausen, Karlheinz, 110, 111–12, 165 n.1 striated space. See haptic and striated space strong Sapir-Whorf hypothesis, 152 n.57 Strumbough, Gene Nora, 75–77 sublime, the, 1, 6, 101, 10 , 111, 119, 1 0, 1 5, 1 6, 141–42 Sweeney, Charles, 29 Synge, John Millington, 168 n. 2 Tanimoto, Kiyoshi, 40 Tarbell, Ida, 1 6 Taylor, Diana, 59, 168 n. 2 Teatre Owners Booking Association, 27 thumbs-up gesture, 10 –4, 164 n.29 Tibbets, Paul W., 12, 7–52, 1 9 Tin Goose. See Ford Trimotor


Index _____________________________________________________________

Titanic: Te Artifact Exhibition, 122 Tito, Dennis, 9 Top Gun, 6, 60, 79, 161 n.26 Toth, Anthony Transportation Security Administration (TSA), 56, 70, 1 8– 9 Truman, Harry S., 47 Trump, Donald, 51, 89 Trying to Remember the Color of the Sky on Tat September Morning, 122 T-Square, 54, 49 Tulsa Race Riot, 28–29 Turner, Mark, 10, 10 Turner, Victor, 97–98, 101, 12 Tuskegee Airmen, , 148 n.12 Twelve O’Clock High, 60 Uncle Tom’s Cabin, 29 Unger, Ivan, 22 uniforms, 2– , 61, 116, 157 n.27 United Airlines, 1, 5, 116–17. See also 9/11, United Airlines fight 9 ; 9/11, United Airlines fight 175 United States Air Force, 15, 60, 61, 75, 80–81, 1 – 4 United States Army Aviation, 18 United States Space Force, 89 United States Space Program. See NASA United States Holocaust Memorial and Museum, 122 Universal Negro Improvement Association, 28 Upton, Kate, 95 Urry, John, 92 Van Gennep, Arnold, 97 Veterans of Foreign Wars, 45 Vietnam War, 40, 87 Villarejo, Amy, 168 n. 2 Virgin America, 159 n.55 Virgin Galactic, 14, 91, 9 , 94

“Vomit Comet, Te” (reduced gravity aircraft), 96, 164 n.22 Von Braun, Werner, 161 n.25 Walker, Joseph A. 59–60, 75 Walker, Peter, 121 War on Terror, 14, 15, 55, 70, 11 , 115, 12 –24 Wayne, John, 60, 66 Webb, James, 77 weightlessness, 94–107, 141, 14 –45. See also Zero-G White, Edward H., 89 Williams, Brian, 124 Williams, Tennessee, 168 n. 2 Wills, William D., 2– Wilson, Woodrow, 22 World Trade Center 126–28. See also 199 World Trade Center bombing; 9/11; One World Trade Center World War I, 12, 18, 22, 64, 66, 149 n.4 World War II, , 7–52, 54, 60–61, 64, 66, 104, 1 4, 148 n.12, 164 n. 29 Wolfe, Tom, 1 , 5 –54, 58–59, 74, 79, 8 – 84, 161 n.27 Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPs), 77 Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur), 149 n.10 Wright Air Development Center, 74 X-ray scan, 98, 1 7– 9 Yeager, Chuck, 1 , 27, 46, 48, 5 –54, 55, 58–59, 64–66, 68, 70, 7 , 155 n.2, 156 n.4, 157 n.14, 159 n.2 Zentaro, Kosaka, 44 Zero-G (Zero Gravity Corporation), 95–107, 99, 141, 16 n.14, 164 n.20, 164 n.2