In the new National Geographic film “Living in the Age of Airplanes,” narrator Harrison Ford says that aviation has changed our world permanently.
With respect to the creators of this wonderful film, may I offer some moderation: perhaps aviation has not changed our world. It has, however, changed our species and the way we relate to our world.
More than perhaps any other single factor, the perspective afforded by aviation and its offspring, space exploration, have made us aware of how tiny, how fragile, how isolated, and how precious this planet is for all of us.
Like no other place in the world – whether Kitty Hawk, Seattle, or Toulouse – California is the cradle of aviation and aerospace. True, most of the great, cavernous airplane factories and their satellite subcontractors no longer punctuate the California landscape the way they used to. But flight runs deep in the bones of this state, and if you know where to look, you can still see how aviation formed California, how California formed aviation, and how the quest for the sky and the stars is a core part of our future.
To understand how, though, we must begin by exploring the past. In the coming weeks, we will be posting a series of pieces examining California and aerospace.
We welcome your thoughts.