Architects of Air Supremacy: General Hap Arnold and Dr. Theodore von Karman
AIR FORCE INST OF TECH WRIGHT-PATTERSON AFB OH
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The partnership of technology and the military pre-dates written history. Long before airplanes became a reality in 1903, inventions such as the stirrup circa 700 A.D. in Western Europe and gunpowder circa 1300 A. D. in Western Europe had Evolutionized warfare as well as civil life. The stirrup, which allowed men the means to steady themselves in the saddle, was largely responsible for the preeminence of calvary on the battlefield for many centuries. Later, the stirrup also allowed the aristocratic gentry class the means to mount and monitor their holdings in a far more dignified manner than had been possible before its introduction. Gunpowder, and gunpowder weapons, eventually sealed the fate of previously unstoppable cavalry charges, which had been made possible by the stirrup, and contributed to the entrenched quagmire known to history as World War I. Metallurgical skills developed during the gunpowder evolution were instrumental to the creation of engines and very strong steel which Britain utilized with effect during the industrialization period. It was on 17 December 1903, on Kill Devil Hill, that Orville and Wilbur Wright demonstrated that powered heavier than air flight was possible. Only forty years later Henry Harley Hap Arnold, then a seventeen year old plebe freshmen at West Point, would command the largest military air force ever assembled in history while, in the same moment, commercial air liners began criss-crossing the free skies of the world.
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