It was on the same day, Tuesday, that I happened to have a conversation with the MOD Low Flying Aircraft Department about the manner and timing of Air Force training over the mountains of mid-Wales, where I live. Periodically (often American) planes practise flying through the Wye Valley and the Cambrian Mountains, sometimes so low that my house shakes and the sheep and cattle run in fear from the noise, and there is no question that pilots break the rules about acceptable height and distance from time to time out of bravado or stupidity. It is another irony that some of the most special places in the world, like this one, are polluted by machines of war.
Fortunately, the flying training here is intermittent and the MOD does its best to minimize disturbance, and we who live here understand that, as long as there are air forces, there must be training. I wonder often about the enormous expenditure that is involved in making and maintaining the aircraft and training the crew, when the nature of warfare has changed so much, and the need for it will become a thing of the past so soon.
[caption id="attachment_2307" align="alignright" width="150"] Blakeney Nature Reserve, Norfolk
We are seeing so clearly the folly and waste of war, as four servicemen die in Norfolk in the preparation for combat, and many bereaved parents are asking, in many countries, why their child died in wars no-one believed in, like Iraq and Afghanistan, and which will prove to be a monument to political hubris and incompetence. Civilians and military alike have suffered from it, and so have the many components of the environment, from historical treasure to crops and animals.
In Norfolk, tranquility will return to the nature reserve which holds the downed US helicopter, but this reminder of war will not be forgotten. For those places in the world which are riven by conflict, peace may be a forlorn memory, or hope, now, but one day it will prevail again – and then, there too, war will be confined to books of fable, unlikely myths and not to be believed.