Air power is a common term in the military lexicon. Like many everyday words or things, it only seems curious when we stop to look at it closely or when we slip out of sophistication, with all its buried assumptions, into a kind of naivete. Last week my daughter asked me, Why are your buttons on the wrong side? The purpose of this article is to look at air power with that kind of perspective, to raise some questions, and to make some assertions that are basic. As a departure, it seems useful to examine air power as an idea. The reality and the term are poorly matched, but no more so than sea power and ground power. Air is a medium. Its contribution to the real power involved is one of permissiveness: it freely gives privileges of altitude, speed, range, and routing. There are, on the other hand, real constraints in factors such as persistence and discrimination. We can say similar things about sea power and ground power. Sea power gives us dogged mobility short of most destinations and targets. Ground power gives us territory, but defends it or extends it with short arms. Hybrids such as the helicopter assault team and the aircraft carrier give us a little of this, at the expense of a little of that. Our traditional categorization of military forces into air, land, and sea dimensions is not, in general, an inevitable or fully illuminating way to approach missions, plans, or problems. It puts too much emphasis on the medium, too little on the message. There are other ways to think.