Friday, January 11, 2008

Read: A History of Military Aviation in San Antonio (up to pg 25)

Back in 2004, I was in an architectural history class called "Readings and Criticisms of Architecture". The end-of-the-semester assignment was to write about a particular building (or typology), its history, and critically analyze the intent and effect of the building. I initially wanted to write about military installations, particular air force bases since they were a big part of my childhood.

I made some calls to San Antonio-area AFBs and found a base historian, who sent over two books. One of them, I'm finally reading, A History of Military Aviation in San Antonio. The instructor of the class above wanted me to critically analyze a new dormitory in a different university, so I did.

So far, up to page 25, and the book is quite informative. San Antonio didn't acquire any air training facilities until 1910, seven years after the Wright Brothers demonstrated their flying machine at Kitty Hawk. San Antonio got the first military air facility because the Army (there was no Air Force yet) didn't know where to put the first plane or its caretaker Lieutenant Benjamin D. Foulois. San Antonio got its air bases nearly by chance!

The amount of trainees grew from three in 1911 to over 47,000 by 1918. The numbers fell sharply during the 1920s and early 1930s, which is where I'm at currently in the book. The amount of progress made in the airplanes themselves is also astounding, evolving from modified gliders to ones made wood and then finally metal.

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