On December 17, 1950, the first known aerial combat between swept-wing jet fighters took place in the skies over Korea. The Russian-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 had been recently introduced and its speed and maneuverability caused trouble for the United States and in response, the North American F-86 Sabre was rushed to Korea. Ward Hitt, Jr., a member of the 4th Fighter Interceptor Group, chronicled the early days of the F-86 in combat in a detailed scrapbook.
Seventy years ago, on June 24, 1948, the Soviet Union closed all surface routes into the western zone of Berlin. For 18 months, American and British aircrews flew around-the-clock bringing supplies into Berlin, in a mission called the Berlin Airlift.
After decades of unsuccessful attempts to gain access, the public is now finally able to review the President’s Daily Briefs (PDBs) from the Kennedy through Ford administrations. The collection was released in 2015 and 2016 and sheds lights on the intelligence and analysis the presidents received at the time. They are posted on the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) website and are available to anyone to read.
This fall is the 30th anniversary of the Reykjavik Summit, a landmark meeting held in Iceland's capital between U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
I recently attended a screening of Bridge of Spies, a new movie directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Tom Hanks. Purportedly, Bridge of Spies was inspired by events surrounding the 1962 exchange of U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers and graduate student Frederick Pryor for Soviet spy Rudolph Abel. The movie event was sponsored by Virginia’s Cold War Museum which was co-founded by Francis Gary Powers, Jr., who was also in attendance and served on a Q&A panel after the film.
The year is 1967. The government has requested your skills to help locate a downed plane somewhere near hostile territory. After getting the mission details in the briefing room, you embark on a journey through the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center, in Chantilly, Virginia, looking carefully at various artifacts and discovering clues that will lead you to the downed plane. Test your powers of observation, your problem-solving skills, and your decision-making abilities as you take on the role of intelligence analyst. The game will engage you through hands-on activities and secret codes that lead to an ultimate conclusion. The fate of top-secret technology and missing pilots is in your hands.
What truly captivated me this summer was feeling a personal connection to the history of aviation. I’ve always been interested in the topic, largely because my dad was a Marine Corps fighter pilot. Until this summer I hadn’t had a chance to truly dive into the subject, and finally learning about what my dad did as a pilot has given me a new perspective on his career. He flew F -18s for most of his pilot days, but he also flew F-4 Phantoms, the same plane used for simulator rides here at the museum. I’m sure piloting the simulator isn’t nearly as thrilling (or difficult) as flying a real fighter jet, but it gave me a small taste of my dad’s everyday job. As soon as I hopped out of the ride, I emailed my dad to tell him how exciting my three minutes of pretend-jet-flying had been. He responded by telling me, not for the first time in my life, that he had the “best job in the world.” I never understood the excitement he felt until now.