- Imagining Flight: Aviation and Popular Culture
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They took their air circuses on the road to woo converts. The very site chosen by the Wrights— Kill Devil Hills— seemed inspired.
Imagining Flight: Aviation and Popular Culture
But evangelization, however pervasive, would not have moved so many American hearts were it not for a lone eagle named Lindbergh. By aircraft of sufficient size and power were coming on line, and three French aces from the Great War plus three famous American pilots were determined to win.
But two of the Frenchmen perished in the attempt, while the other four pilots were thwarted by accidents or injuries. Louis took to the air on May The next morning Lindbergh landed at Le Bourget Aerodrome, Paris, exhausted and utterly unaware of what he had become in the hearts and minds of his countrymen. He was welcomed back to New York by 4 million people, and millions more turned out in all 48 states, which he toured in the Ryan.
What did it mean? We did it: my Ryan and I. What Lindbergh and the winged gospelers hallowed was the marriage of man and machine, rugged individualism and modern science. From the Wright brothers Americans learned Yankee pluck and know-how still trumped big money and organization.
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Anne Morrow Lindbergh, the aviatrix who married Charles, put it exactly that way. Gazing down from 10, feet she thought the busy, bothered old earth looked frozen in form, as if a glaze were put over life. When and why did the honeymoon end and heartbreak ensue? The answer most likely to leap to mind is December 7, , when Americans awoke to the truth of what many Jeremiahs and Cassandras had prophesied about fire and death from above.
As early as H. Wells predicted in The War in the Air that the 20th century would witness urban conflagrations of Biblical proportions.
In the s, Italian strategist Giulio Douhet wrote in The Command of the Air that future wars would be won in a matter of days by whichever side boasted the superior air force. He lectured incessantly on the potentially decisive impact of air power and proved it in by demonstrating how a few flimsy biplanes could sink a Dreadnought-class battleship. In he even described in a secret report how the Japanese were planning to build aircraft carriers and inaugurate the war they considered inevitable by launching aerial attacks at first light on Pearl Harbor and the Philippines.
By the s, the dictators made abundantly clear how the winged gospel might be perverted. Mussolini, Hitler, and Stalin all patronized aviation to prove their regimes were futuristic, scientific, and mobilized by contrast to democracies enervated by the Depression. Italian designers and pilots won numerous air races. Hitler made the Luftwaffe a showpiece of Nazism commanded by his henchman Hermann Goering.
Visitors such as Lindbergh were impressed, if not cowed, by the evident superiority of fascist regimes to promote air power. The most terrified nation was Britain since aviation promised to nullify her traditional naval defenses. Somehow we have got to Christianize it. The principal reason was undoubtedly the fact that the American mainland was spared any attack, much less the carpet bombing that flattened cities in the other belligerent nations.
Aerial war did not poison the whole enterprise of flight. Rather, the Germans and especially the Japanese had sinned against the dreams of mankind by perverting technology to their evil purposes. Hence, the Allies, led by the U. Army Air Corps, had the right, duty, and necessity to pay the enemy back, many times over, in their own coin.
Meanwhile, of course, World War II was the greatest opportunity yet to educate average Americans about the wonders of flight. Millions of servicemen got their first ride on an airplane during the war. No airplane was more beloved than the sturdy Douglas DC-3 C transport , whose production run surpassed 13, Far from repenting of what aviation had come to, Americans honored their brave bomber crews, undisturbed by the napalm-lit firestorms that consumed Hamburg and Dresden, Tokyo and Yokohama.
The climactic events, the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, were greeted as godsends by the million servicemen poised for a bloody invasion of Japan and their tens of millions of family members back home. The atomic bomb, not the airplane, was the horrific invention, and in any case the United States had a monopoly. Polls conducted near the end of World War II showed hopes far outpacing fears. No less than 85 percent of Army Air Force pilots said they intended to own their own planes after the war.
Some 43 percent of businessmen and professionals expected their firms to own planes after the war. In alone, civilians purchased 33, private planes and back ordered so many more that new manufacturers leaped into business. Then reality sank in. The novelty wore off. Not least, the Soviets tested an A-bomb in and boasted they would soon deploy transcontinental bombers.
The military again monopolized aviation technology and personnel. The most symbolic of sad events may have been the recall of baseball star Ted Williams to duty as a fighter pilot despite his having lost four years already to World War II. The Eisenhower administration built the Distant Early Warning DEW line of radar stations in Canada and convened secret scientific committees predicting imminent Soviet parity in strategic weapons.
Suddenly the sky became as scary as it had been to the ancients. Men could fly, perhaps even rocket in space, but they were still men: some evil, all flawed, and none gods. Americans might have exulted when test pilot Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in , but it was kept a secret. They put on their Sunday best when boarding commercial airliners in the s, assured by elegant stewardesses there was nothing to fear. But even the advent of jet travel with the Boeing and DC-8 airliners in only postponed disillusionment for a time.
Anne Morrow Lindbergh foresaw it all in her memoir Listen! The Wind. Only the vibration of the engines will impress the senses of the traveler with his movement through the air. Wind and heat and moonlight take-offs will be of no concern to the transatlantic passenger. His only contact with these elements will lie in accounts such as this book contains. Once upon a time people dreamed of flying by themselves, free as birds. Pressurization made the cabin a stale, artificial environment.
Even those with window seats might see nothing but clouds. Far from being in control, white-knuckled customers felt thoroughly out of control as they trusted the pilots to take off and land safely. Airplanes were surely much faster than railroads or cars, but their speed annihilated the romance of distance.
The magic died for manufacturers and airlines as well. Individual engineers and pilots might still take pride in an elegant new design, a problem solved, or a feather-like landing on instruments in a cross wind. But the truth was, aerospace and airlines were very tough industries in which to make an honest dollar. Firms that failed to gorge at the public trough disappeared, while the survivors merged into ever larger conglomerates or diversified, thereby shedding their mystique.
The federal aviation bureaucracy became ever larger and more opaque, especially after Lyndon Johnson subsumed it into the new Department of Transportation in Then deregulation cut the legs out from under marginal carriers. Grand old airlines went bankrupt, while those still in business pushed fares into the stratosphere or else offered cut-rate fares subject to endless penalties and restrictions.
Related Subjects Aviation. The history of the air age has mostly been written from the perspective of aircraft designers, builders, and pilots. Imagining Flight is a history of the air age as the rest of us have experienced it: on the pages of books, the screens of movie theaters, and the front pages of newspaper—and in airline cabins during peacetime and bomb shelters during wartime. It is a book about the ways in which people outside the aviation business have looked at, dreamed about, and worried over powered flight in the century since the Wright brothers first showed a startled world that it was possible.
Imagining Flight focuses on the United States, but also contrasts American ideas and attitudes with those of other air-minded nations, including Britain, France, Germany, and Japan. Imagining Flight carries these themes into the twenty-first century and considers them in light of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the Columbia disaster.
Cultural influence of Star Trek - Wikipedia
Was it the small size of the plane or the fact that you were on your own most of the time? If you can spend hours sitting in the office every month, than you can do it in the plane as well. They are designed in a way that if they break it is not life threatening. This is why flying is such a safe means of transport. Ultimately the manufacturer of the propeller convinced me that a simple field repair would be enough so I repaired that dent and continued.
You wanted to make stops at places that are somehow connected with Czech history? Which of these places have made the biggest impression on you? I followed their inspirational stories in order to inspire people back here we are a great nation and there are a lot of great Czechs all around the world. One was a meeting with Czech compatriots in Chicago, where I met a group of wonderful people who are living the Czech history and Czech patriotism more than most people you meet on the streets in this country. I really enjoyed it.
Were you in touch with your family during the flight? And did you actually have to persuade them to let you undergo this mission? So it was left for my wife to worry. So I will have to do this now that I am back, while I still remember everything. So if I may ask the listeners of your radio I would really like to have some suggestions about Czech footprints that they find inspiring. Every year, millions of tourists visit Prague, but a vast majority of them never get beyond its most Monoxylon is the Greek term for a vessel chiselled out from a single tree trunk.