It was 70 years ago on Sept. 18, 1947, that the U.S. Air Force was established as its own branch of the U.S. military, under the National Security Act of 1947, realizing a vision of military aviators dating back to the first World War.
The Air Force was never just about jets and planes. From its beginnings, it was about engineering. Skilled soldiers under the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers once shouldered the burden of constructing the runways and facilities and of building the Air Force into what it is today.
It began in Aug. 1, 1907, as the Aeronautical Division assigned to “all matters pertaining to military ballooning, air machines, and all kindred subjects,” under the Army Signal Corps, according to “Leading the Way,” by Ronald Hartzer, et al.
Two years later, on Aug. 2, 1909, the Aeronautical Division purchased its first “heavier-than-air flying machine” from the Wright brothers, Wilbur and Orville, according to Hartzer. They dubbed the machine Signal Corps Airplane No. 1, and thus began its development into the Air Force we know today.
President Donald Trump praised the Air Force as a symbol of the American character during a Sept. 15 speech, with rows of airmen behind him, at Joint Base Andrews in Camp Springs, Maryland.
“We are—and forever will be—a nation of pioneers and patriots, risk takers and renegades, aviators and astronauts. We crave adventure and achievement, exploration and enlightenment,” Trump said. “We carved out a home in the new world, gave birth to the modern world, and we will shape tomorrow’s world with the strength and skill of American hands, because for America the sky is never the limit.”
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 18, 2017
“There is no distance too far, no speed to fast, no challenge too great, and no height too high that will keep the United States Air Force or the American people from total victory,” Trump said.
“70 years of heroes, and 70 years of victory,” Trump said. “The American people are eternally grateful. We will stand with you always, and never forget. I am always on your wing.”
First lady Melania Trump also gave her thanks to the Air Force during the event. She told the airmen gathered that in the wake of two recent hurricanes, “the world has witnessed your courage and compassion, and you have made every American proud.”
“Americans have trust in the United States Air Force because we know you will never quit, you will never yield, and you will never fail,” she said. “We know that we are free because you are brave.”