Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Turn right... the B52.

So...the United States Air Force Armaments Museum doesn't just have bombs. And it's really hard to miss with that parked right outside.

Big and spectacular...actually rather intimidating especially when you're standing under the wing. One might think it is the most significant thing in the museum.

It's not.

Inside the square military-style building that houses the smaller exhibits is an artifact of far greater value and significance...tucked away in a corner on the upper level. A large, slightly yellowed, sheet of paper.

I don't have a photo of it...these things are impossible to record with my little point and shoot. But it's a military Request for Proposal, detailing the required specs for an aircraft they wanted to buy.

The successful bidder? The Wright Brothers.

Yes. They have a contemporary copy of the RFP of the very first military aircraft purchased by the United States of America. And whatever else one says about the military, it is the military who pushed the envelope of aeronautics until that envelope became larger than the Earth's atmosphere.

(And did it in a better and more efficient way than NASA, for that matter).

To the Wright Brothers, for proving it could be done.

And to every test pilot, including the ones that work at Elgin AFB...and especially those who fly until the sky turns black.