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Fifty-two men and women who made America's air power the most respected in the world are profiled in this award-winning series. The series features exclusive interviews with Legends such as Chuck Yeager, Jim Lovell, Buzz Aldrin, and Paul Tibbetts. Spanning the first century of flight, Legends of Airpower effortlessly relates the life and times of these heroes.

Janson Media
4 Seasons, 47 Episodes
January 1, 2015
Documentary & Biography
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Legends of Airpower Full Episode Guide

  • Richard "Steve" Ritchie was the only Air Force pilot named an ace during the Vietnam War. After completing his training at the Air Force Fighter Weapons School at Nellis Air Force Base Ritchie in 1969, he became one of the youngest instructors in the school's history.

  • Harry Combs started his love affair with aviation at the age of 13 with a $2.50 ride in the cockpit of a mail plane. By his mid-teens, Combs was building his own flight-worthy aircraft. His education led him to try investment banking, a path that he would later modify to successfully run Combs Aircraft.

  • Charles Bolden has logged more than 6,000 hours of flying time in his lengthy aviation career. Bolden enlisted in the Marine Corps after graduation from the Naval Academy and went on to fly more than 100 combat missions in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. Bolden graduated from the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School and flew numerous test projects as an ordnance test pilot.

  • John Boyd was known as "Forty-Second Boyd" throughout the Air Force because of his promise to beat anyone in simulated air-to-air combat in forty seconds or less. He was taken up on his offer many times and never lost. Boyd turned his natural combat skills into teaching tools for his fellow pilots, coining his famous Energy-Maneuverability Theory.

  • Eddie Rickenbacker's love of speed started in the form of auto racing. Rickenbacker raised the money to buy Indianapolis Speedway in 1927, where he had raced in the first Indianapolis 500 in 1911. His attention turned to airplanes during WWI, when he enlisted in the army and after aerial gunnery training was assigned to the 94th Aero Pursuit Squadron, quickly becoming an ace fighter.

  • Amelia Earhart's remarkable aviation career was tragically cut short when Earhart and her navigator went missing over the Nukumanu Islands. Before her disappearance, Earhart's name became a household one, in 1932, when she was the first woman to make a solo-return transcontinental flight.

  • Richard Bong was the top scoring ace of WWII, shooting down 40 enemy aircraft. He began flying his P-38 in the Pacific Theater in late 1942 and had already surpassed Eddie Rickenbacker's 26 kills by April of 1943. Bong achieved his 40th and final kill in 1944. He went on to become a test pilot of jet fighters, but died tragically on a routine flight when his P-80 malfunctioned after takeoff.

  • Albert Scott Crossfield's military career spanned from flight and gunnery instructor to test pilot and record-breaking flyer. After attending an experimental flight test pilot school at Edwards Air Force Base, the outbreak of the Korean War left him to take full responsibility for the Edwards test program. Under his leadership, the program flourished.

  • David Lee "Tex" Hill was recruited to the American Volunteer Group, the group known as the Flying Tigers, in 1941. Under the leadership of General Claire Chennault, Hill was one of the top aces in the unit. After the deactivation of the Flying Tigers, Hill went on to fight with the 23rd Fighter Group, as well as the 75th Fighter Group.

  • Glenn Curtiss, an aviation pioneer, started out building gasoline engines and eventually went on to build his own aircraft company. Named the "fastest man on Earth" in 1907, when his motorcycle set a speed record of 136.3 miles per hour, Curtiss began constructing engines for airships. The first U.S. Army aircraft, was powered by a Curtiss engine.

  • James Stockdale spent his time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam defying orders and doing everything in his power to stay true to his country. Stockdale remains one of the most highly decorated officers in the United States Navy, leading the U.S air squadron in the Gulf of Tonkin and earning 26 personal combat decorations, including four Silver Star medals.

  • Lorraine Zilner Rodgers was a member of The Women Airforce Service Pilots, known as the WASP, the first group of women pilots to serve the United States Army Air Force in WWII. Out of 25,000 women who applied to the program, Rodgers was one out of 1830 who were accepted.

  • George McGovern has spent a large portion of his life in the political arena, holding office as U.S. Congressman for South Dakota for 22 years, as well as running as the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972. However, it is his outstanding military career that makes him a true LEGEND OF AIRPOWER.

  • America's number two all-time ace, behind his good friend and rival Richard Bong, Thomas McGuire was born in Ridgewood, NJ in 1920. Although he only flew two years of combat in World War II, he was awarded America's highest awards, including the Congressional Medal of Honor, Distinguished Service Cross, six Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Silver Stars, three Purple Hearts, and 14 Air Medals.

  • He was born in 1915 to a Norwegian-Scots family in South Dakota. Though he grew up poor, Joe Foss was able to scrape together $65 for flying lessons, and from then on he was hooked. After joining the Marines, Foss fought in WWII, racked up 26 aerial victories, and was awarded the Medal of Honor.

  • A prisoner of war in Vietnam for over six years, Sam Johnson nevertheless was able to rise from his desperate situation to become a Texas congressman. This Legend served his country for over 50 years, flying F-86 Sabre jets in Korea and the F-4 Phantom II in Vietnam. After his release in 1973, Johnson stayed in the Air Force until his retirement in 1979.

  • Born to a father rumored to have had ties to Al Capone and the mob, "Butch" O'Hare was a Navy pilot whose name marks one of the world's busiest airports. He graduated the Naval Academy in Annapolis in 1937 and had amassed much experience as a fighter pilot when he got involved in World War II.

  • He was born in Pensacola, FL, and spread his wings at the prestigious Tuskegee Institute. A gifted pilot, "Chappie" James flew 101 missions in Korea and 78 in Vietnam; in addition, he also single-handedly prevented an attack from Muammar Qadaffi in Libya, and rose above racism to become the first African-American four-star general.

  • Triple-ace and salty-tongued Robin Olds literally wrote the book on tactical air power. The son of a major general, Olds was born for combat. His distinguished career included 107 combat missions in World War II and 152 in Vietnam, and 17 kills in each. And along with Daniel "Chappie" James, he became part of a flying duo known as "Blackman and Robin."

  • Wisconsin native Deke Slayton flew 56 combat missions in Europe during WWII, but is probably best known as one of the original Mercury 7. Though he was grounded due to a heart condition, Slayton filled a vital role well enough to fly in the early 1970s, and made his first space flight as pilot of the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP) mission.

  • Born in Brooklyn, NY in July 1923, Donald Lopez got the unique opportunity to fly a Curtiss P-40 Warhawk with the 14th Air Force's 23rd Fighter Group, also known as The Flying Tigers, under the expert leadership of Gen. Claire Chennault, in China.

  • In 1919 Igor Sikorsky landed on these shores from Russia dreaming of a career in aviation. His determination and faith in his own ability to build what many considered to be an impossible vehicle lead to the world's first practical helicopter. Because of this, the helicopter is an integral part of many difficult missions, including the saving of thousands of lives in both peace and war.

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