Mon, Nov 06, 2006
One of the least-documented eras of
aviation's story is the transition from the frail, kite-like
structures of its infancy to strong, maneuverable and capable
military craft developed during the First World War. ANN was
privileged to preview a new television program that fills this
The Public Broadcasting Service's WARPLANE: Airplane to Air
Force very realistically details the nascent use of "aeroplanes" as
instruments of war-the earliest (and best) use in observation and
reconnaissance, development of fighter aircraft to deny the
observational "high ground" to the enemy, and the small beginnings
of aviation in ground-attack and strategic bombardment roles.
Combining live-action re-enactments using replica aircraft with
computer-generated animation (CGI) and the very few photographic
records of the era (including footage from post-war theatrical
releases), Airplane to Air Force emphasizes the lightning pace of
innovation that turned barely flyable contraptions into efficient
if still unstable killing machines.
Enthusiasts will enjoy the entertaining and informative mix.
More serious historians will applaud that modern research and video
production techniques have created a definitive overview of First
World War aviation. Both groups should forgive the very few CGI
scenes of airplanes maneuvering against a blurred background in
turns and dives that don't quite match the fluid motion of actual
airplanes, instead recognizing the superior quality of the vast
majority of the show.
Airplane to Air Force is the first of a series of new hour-long
programs that document the development of military air power. It
premiers Wednesday, November 8th at 9 pm Eastern time on PBS.
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