Viewpoint – Franky Flies a Firearm

Who here remembers the Back to the Future series? Ole Doc and Marty ripping through time in a crappy one-off sports car thing called a DeLorean?

Of course you do.

And I’m sure you remember their version of 2015, lol, which included a hoverboard.

Ahh good times. A clever levitating board, stolen from a child no less, to help Marty flee from diner thugs wearing balloon animals on their heads. How cute. Man the future looked fun, and colorful.

However, like any new tech, the military loves getting their hands on it. So instead of Marty, we have this…

Thanks France.

It appears, as the French were celebrating Bastille day, the 1789 storming of said place, that inventor Franky Zapata showed up on his FlyBoard Air overhead of the parade route to, well one, show off his wickedly cool toy, and to get in on the whole militarization of parades thing.

Franky was rocking some sort of military-style rifle.

And I’ll be honest, it bummed me out.

Make no mistake, I understand the need for nations to field armies, air forces, navies, I get it.

But I suppose I was hoping for the future to be more like Marty McFly and his hoverboard, not Darth Vader swooping in on his jet powered aerial death machine.

ludovic MARIN / AFP

Yes yes, it was a military parade, I get it. But the visuals are a tad disturbing. Were Franky to fly up dressed up as well, say Marty, and eagerly show off for a delighted crowd at some Normandy music festival people would think, aww wow, man the future will be awesome. Maybe drop some candy to the common folk…

But showing up with an M-16 and a dark helmet – now we think, great, another oppressive piece of military tech for the commoners to avoid.

Interesting bit of irony in the French celebrating the commoners having enough of the ruling class and their weapons, as they stormed the Bastille to go take those very weapons.

But sadly, that is the way it works. Every piece of tech you enjoy has the military in its family tree.

GPS? yep. Developed by the U.S. Air Force to improve navigation of planes, ships, subs, missiles.

Internet? Developed through grants by the Department of Defense.

Airplanes? Civilians came up with these, but within 15 years of the Wright Brothers flying at Kitty Hawk, nations were using aircraft in WWI.

The space race of the 1960s? The Soviets launched Sputnik 1 in October of 1957 into low Earth orbit. We were listening and realized that a) that was not cool, and b) we had to militarize space.

The Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo missions were all noble human endeavors, to be lauded and remembered for eternity, but it was about 30 seconds after Alan Shepard went into space in 1961 that somebody (probably) in the DOD yelled man can we get missiles on those things?

Hell, the rockets for our space program were developed by Wherner Von Braun, a Nazi party member who developed V-2 rockets for Hitler to rain down on Great Britain. That’s him in the suit….

By Bundesarchiv, Bild

Nearly every Astronaut  those days came from a military background. And they should have, as the training and skills necessary to get to the Moon were perfectly in line with the test pilots of the day.

Oh and remember the Shuttle? We used it to do incredible things – put the Hubble Telescope in orbit, build the International Space Station, yet they also flew dozens of military payloads, including the satellites that make you able to find the closest Starbucks on your iPhone.

And we still have an unmanned shuttle called the X-37 regularly flying top secret missions for the U.S military.

You get the idea. Our tech and our military are completely entwined.

It is what it is.

What fascinates me is the visual message in his flyby.

Yet Franky flies by armed for bear, and I doubt any people gave it a second thought, other than some procurement officer in an office in Omaha that wet himself with joy when he saw Franky roll up.

It’s fine. I’m aware, first of the limits of Franky’s invention – he can only go for about 10 minutes – and that one day there will be Judge Dredds on turbine hoverboards dispensing aerial justice. I will probably be long gone.

But as an image, I want my tech to inspire me, not make me afraid. I look forward to Franky showing off, not with a rifle, but by being chased by a middle-aged Biff in a Universal Studios theme park.

Tell you what though, more I consider it, that board with a guy with a gun would slow down this kind of mess… Get em Franky!


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