The most famous photograph in the world captures the moment manned flight began in 1903. Orville Wright is flying the plane, his brother Wilbur stands expectantly off to the side. Itâ€™s a windy day, and the plane is just lifting off the sand at Kitty Hawk. Aviation commentator and photographer Dan Patterson says that one detail from that picture shaped what aviators came to look like.
A hundred years ago, the world was racing headlong into war in Europe. Aviation was a new and untried tool for military leaders, and it soon became a powerful weapon.Â In July of 1914, it had only been 10 years since the Wright brothers first flew at Kitty Hawk, and and aviation was flourishing around the world.
Seventy years ago, the country was deep into World War Two, and the US was on the offensive in the air.Â Commentator Dan Patterson says that the big US four engine bombers were being shot down in shocking numbers.
Think about this: on one mission, we lost sixty bombers.Â That's six hundred men.Â It was just too much.
The US needed a fighter plane with long pegs, one that could go all way deep into Germany and protect the bombers, essentially win the air war and provide the long sought after supremacy of the air.
Russia has our attention now, with the Sochi Winter Olympics about to open on February 7th. This got our aviation commentator Dan Patterson thinking about the vast country and how it is connected by flight. And Dan brings us back to the early days of aviation when the Russians were building and flying unique aircraft to shorten those distances.