Thursday, August 11, 2011

2011 Air & Space Highlights: Anniversary Dinner

The Air Force is the youngest branch of the United States Armed Forces, but with a rich history. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of 1947. In honor of the Air Force’s anniversary, AFA’s Air & Space Conference and Technology Exposition always concludes this premier fall symposium with a celebration!

It was on August 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps formed an Aeronautical Division – three-and-a-half years after the Wright brothers flew the world's first powered airplane at Kitty Hawk. Early Army Airmen experimented with various aircraft over the years and ultimately formed an operational unit, the 1st Aero Squadron, in December 1913.

On July 18, 1914, the Army established the Aviation Section of the Signal Corps to develop its novice flying capabilities. But by April 1917, when the U.S. entered World War I on the side of the Allied Powers, each of the major combatants had developed aircraft industries far superior. As a result to the U.S.’s shortcoming, President Woodrow Wilson created the Army Air Service and placed it directly under the War Department on May 24, 1918. 

 It wasn’t until World War II, however, that the Air Force came of age. After September 1939, when Adolf Hitler launched World War II by invading Poland, the Air Corps began a steady growth from 26,000 personnel and fewer than 2,000 planes. On June 20, 1941, the Department of War created the Army Air Forces (AAF) as its aviation element and shortly thereafter made it coequal to the Army Ground Forces. 

Under the leadership of Gen. Henry H. "Hap" Arnold, the Army Air Forces oversaw mobilization of the nation's aviation industry and deployment of the largest air armada of all time. By the last year of the war, the quantity and quality of AAF aircraft and Airmen dominated the skies over both Germany and Japan. 

Following World War II, and based on the AAF's wartime achievements and future potential, the U.S. Air Force won its independence as a full partner with the Army and the Navy on September 18, 1947. 

The Air Force Anniversary Dinner is a black-tie/mess dress event commemorating the journey of the nation’s youngest force. During the celebration, we recognize the year's national aerospace award winners and honor individuals and legendary units for their contributions to the Air Force's history and success. This event serves as a great platform to acknowledge the sacrifices and contributions of the many fallen heroes, and commend the Air Force as it continues to deliver global reach, global power and global vigilance to protect American citizens and allies.

WASPs receiving Lifetime Achievement Award
at AFA's 2010 Air Force Anniversary Dinner
For tickets and more information on the Anniversary Dinner, click here.

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