It’s about time…
For one avowed aviation nut since he was 6 years old in 1940 on the eve of U.S. involvement in World War II—the war in which aviation “earned its spurs”—the unveiling last fall of the Air Force Memorial came as a welcome recognition.
This editor spent many evenings during WWII surreptitiously listening to war news on the radio (remember those Atlantic cable squeals and static?), yearning to be in the cockpit. He was 11 when “the lights came on again, all over the world,” and was taken to see a flyby of the military’s newest jet fighter, the F-80 Shooting Star. When the whisper-quiet, sleek plane whooshed by the crowd, he said, “I’m gonna fly that thing someday,” but not loudly enough for the adults to pooh-pooh the skinny little kid. The desire persisted.
Soon there was a new separate military service dedicated entirely to aviation, when the U.S. Air Force debuted on September 18, 1947, adding fuel to the fire of this kid’s dream of flight. After the usual hiatus of all things military after the end of war, his wish was finally granted and he entered the relatively new service only seven years after it became a separate branch and while its personnel were still smarting from the jibes of “bus drivers” because of their new, blue uniforms. He went on to fly an icon of aviation history when he chose an assignment piloting the immortal Douglas C-47 Skytrain—dubbed the Dakota by the Brits.
Since then, the U.S. Air Force, no longer the new kid on the block, has earned its place with the traditional American services. And now, an impressive memorial honors those many of its own who gave their all in defense of their country and the service itself as a recognized instrument in support of world stability.
So it is a personal pleasure to salute the new USAF Memorial in this issue of Aviation History as we concurrently salute the 60th anniversary of that service with special features by fellow Air Force veterans—and award-winning aviation historian-writers—Walter J. Boyne and C.V. Glines, who have been stalwart supporters of, and contributors to, this magazine since its inception in September 1990.
And speaking of awards, the most recent one goes to Walt Boyne, who is being inducted into the Class of 2007 of the Aviation Hall of Fame, co-located with the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio.