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Pearl Harbor: the Sleeping Giant Awakens

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Aviation History – First Helicopter Flight-November 13, 1907

Aviation History – First Helicopter Flight-November 13, 1907

On 13 November 1907, French engineer and bicycle maker Paul Cornu made history by becoming the first man to fly in a rotary wing aircraft. The primitive helicopter – a twin-rotor craft powered by a 24-horsepower engine – only lifted Cornu about 1.5m off the ground, holding him there for 20 seconds at Coquainvilliers, near […]
On this Day in Aviation History: November 9

On this Day in Aviation History: November 9

November 9 1949 (USA) — President certifies the $10.5-million USAF funds for five projects, the major one being over $7.5-million for modifications of 700 North American T-6 trainers. 1932 (Germany) — Wolfgang von Gronau and crew in a Dornier Wal complete the first flight around the world by a seaplane. Their flight takes 111 days. […]

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Veterans Day and Me: A Personal Essay

Veterans Day and Me: A Personal Essay

Although Veterans Day has the stated purpose of remembering the vets and those in uniform, in reality it means different things to different people. For some it is the half-off sales that surround us. For me, it reminds me of one of those could-of-should-ofs that will always haunt me: I never served in the armed […]
A Tribute to our Veterans: Do It Now

A Tribute to our Veterans: Do It Now

Living history has a shelf life, and the expiration date cannot be extended. I’ve been interviewing WW II veterans since the early 1970s when I got serious about writing history, and it’s been a bittersweet experience. Anyone who’s made a career documenting aviation (or anything else) will tell you the same thing: you make older […]

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Ford Trimotor  – Ford’s Fabulous Tri-Motor classic airplane

Ford Trimotor – Ford’s Fabulous Tri-Motor classic airplane

When you climb on board some airplanes, there’s a feeling that can only be described as passing through a portal into history. As I worked my way between the rows of seats up to the cockpit of the Ford 4AT Trimotor, that was one of those moments: there was no doubt that what I was […]
World War II Trainers – The Ace Makers

World War II Trainers – The Ace Makers

It was a global war foughton an industrial scale unlike anything before or since. Conservatively, it consumed at least 55 million lives while overturning the way humans regarded their nations, their worlds, and themselves. It also spurred the greatest technological revolution of all time: in five years, going from 250mph biplane fighters in some nations to 550mph jets and ocean-spanning bombers that delivered atomic weapons. Supporting the vast American effort were huge training establishments for the U.S. Army Air Force (AAF) and the U.S. Navy (USN). This is their story.

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Pearl Harbor images of the Aftermath – December 8 and Onward

Pearl Harbor images of the Aftermath – December 8 and Onward

The images of the attack on Pearl Harbor will be forever etched in the mind’s eye of Americans everywhere. As with the images of the airliners hitting the World Trade Center towers, the fire and smoke of December 7, 1941, can’t be erased from our memories. We seldom see, however, photos that portray the aftermath […]
Photo courtesy of Stan Piet

Pearl Harbor – A Greenhorn relates his experience

Back in the mid-1930s, when I was a teenager in California, I used to spend a lot of time fishing off the municipal pier at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco. I was standing on the pier one day when a flight of 16 to 20 Boeing P-26s came roaring by fast and low in tight formation. I will never forget the look of the pilots, with their heads sticking out of the cockpit and their white silk scarves billowing behind them, all looking like Eddie Rickenbacker.

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World War 2 Supermarine Spitfire – Free Wylam Drawing

World War 2 Supermarine Spitfire – Free Wylam Drawing

Somewhere there is probably a list of the world’s most beautiful airplanes but the process of selecting those airplanes has undoubtedly prompted numerous fistfights. However, when it came to putting the Spitfire on, or at the top, of the list, it’s doubtful anyone anywhere disagreed. Reginald Mitchell created a piece of art as much as […]
HA(L)-3 Seawolves  – Attack of the Navy’s Little-Known Helicopter Squadron

HA(L)-3 Seawolves – Attack of the Navy’s Little-Known Helicopter Squadron

“Riders on the storm. Riders on the storm. Into this house we’re born. Into this world we’re thrown.” —The Doors, 1971 Seawolf Formation In 1967, the U.S. Navy established Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron Three, commonly known as HA(L)-3, unclassified call sign: “Seawolf.” The in-country formation and disestablishment in 1972 was a historic first. The Navy […]
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