History is not a hobby for me, it's more of a sick obsession. That's because understanding the events leading up to the present helps you contextualize why certain countries hate each other and more importantly, enjoy the many little jokes on Family Guy and Futurama.
Another thing is that history is full of awesome shit like WWII, one of my favorite subjects, especially the air battles. WWII takes my fetish for aviation and history to Star Wars Saga levels. So when I heard news that a whack of vintage fighter planes had been found buried in Myanmar, I got hard. Then I learned the details of exactly what they'd found, and ruined my jeans.
Apparently, near the end of the Second World War, a shipment of brand new, freshly minted British Spitfires, still sealed in their shipping crates, were delivered to a base in the South Asian country, at the time still under British rule. One might expect it to have been a modest export of one or two squadrons worth, maybe 12 or so fighters. Nope. They sent 140 of the nimble little fighters. But the war ended and for whatever reason, before they could be put into action, someone decided to bury them in the dirt, crates and all. And there they remained until a British Historian tracked them down. So far they've found about 60 of the lost fighters.
Why is this such an exciting bit of news you may wonder. Well it won't be for most of us, but for history buffs, aviation enthusiasts and the average Brit, it's like Christmas in July.
The Spitfire was Britain's frontline fighter, and although being hopelessly outnumbered in strength by the German Luftwaffe, the resolve and determination of the RAF pilots stemmed the tide of the Battle of Britain in 1940 and indeed, the course of the war. That enshrined this plane and its iconic shape in the enduring mythology of the "Tough Brits."
To explain it to the average Canadian, just recall how proud and passionate some Canadians are about the Avro Arrow, which never even went beyond the prototype. Now imagine if Tommy Douglas flew the Arrow into battle and blew up the Death Star. Then you get a rough idea of what this plane means to the Brits.
It's also an epic historical find because if everything's there in the box, it won't be long before the fighters are in the air again. There are groups across the globe like the boys at Duxford, England, the Yankee Air Museum in Michigan and numerous private collectors who specialize in recovering and restoring these planes back to airworthy shape.
There's little else that makes me as insanely excited as hearing the sound of one of these war-birds flying overhead -- more importantly, it's a tangible link to the past, a photo or grainy footage made accessible to the senses. It's one of the few ways current generations can share a connection with those whose lives were lost in defense of freedom.
And as an aside, one of these fabulous sexy spitfires can be yours for a smidgen over $2 million, or you can opt for the DIY, still in the box to shave a little of the sticker price -- some assembly required...