Who can forget the immortal question posed by the Mongol General in the 1982 classic Conan the Barbarian?
Wait…don’t tell me you’ve forgotten? When the Mongol General bellows “What is best in life?” some (sissy) barbarian offers the following: “The open steppe, fleet horse, falcons at your wrist, and the wind in your hair.” (“The wind in your hair”?? What is this, a shampoo commercial?) When the question is redirected to Conan, Arnold Schwarzenegger woodenly replies: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.” (See video clip below.)
You may ask how this is relevant to Air & Space magazine.
For our September 2011 issue, frequent contributor Ed Darack profiled the Colorado Air National Guard’s 120th Fighter Squadron. When we saw the above photograph, we assumed the pilot—Lieutenant Colonel Tim Conklin, commander of the 120th—was simply raising his arms in order to indicate that the munitions being loaded onto his aircraft would not be launched by accident. Wrong. When we asked Colonel Conklin to explain what his arms signaled, he replied, “That’s actually the standard sign of the 80th Fighter Squadron (Juvats) from Korea. I was there in 1994-1995. It’s from Conan the Barbarian. All current or former Juvats will ‘snake’ passing aircraft (or photojournalists).”
A query sent to the Air Force Historical Society, asking if they could explain how the tradition started, garnered this reply: “Unfortunately, unofficial items such as this are not covered by the official unit histories which concern themselves with actual mission accomplishments, as opposed to individual actions.”
Look for Ed Darack’s profile of the 120th, “The Changing of the Guard,” in our September 2011 issue, and posted on our Web site next week.