The first ever airplane flew in 1903, but it wasn't until several years later that the Army began using aircraft as part of its defense. As the world of aviation evolved over the decades, the military's air defenses changed and grew too. It wasn't until after WWII that the Army's Air Force division became its own entity. On Sept. 18. 1947, the U.S. Airforce was officially created as an independent branch of the military. This year the Air Force celebrates its 69th birthday.
Celebrate With These 6 Facts About The Air Force
The air force has played an important role in our history since its inception. It may be the youngest branch, but it still has plenty of stories. Here are a few things you may now have known about the Air Force and those who have served in it.
- You may have heard the myth that the Army has more aircrafts than the Air Force and more boats than the Navy. It's close, but in reality, the Air Force has 5,199 aircraft compared to the Army's 5,117.
- Actor Jimmy Stewart, who famously portrayed George Bailey in It's A Wonderful Life, preferred to stay out of the limelight in favor of joining the Air Force. Rather than acting as a recruitment tool, he just wanted to serve. By the end of WWII, he had earned the honor of the Distinguished Flying Cross and had become a colonel. Afterward, he joined the Air Force Reserve and retired as a Brigadier General.
- Carlos Ray Norris, better known as Chuck Norris, got his nickname and developed his interest of martial arts while serving in the Korean War as an Air Policeman.
- Many other famous people including Morgan Freeman, Johnny Cash, Hunter S. Thompson and George Carlin also served in the Air Force. Before becoming the second man on the moon, Buzz Aldrin was in the Air Force as well, where he flew 86 combat missions and shot down two enemy aircraft.
- The NORAD Santa Tracker, which people use to see where Santa's currently delivering presents on Christmas Eve, started because of a typo in a 1955 newspaper ad. The ad gave a number for children to call Santa directly, but instead the number mistakenly went to a phone line at the U.S. Air Defense Command. Not only that, but it was a special line that was intended to be used in the event of an attack on the U.S. When a child called the line hoping to talk to Santa, the operator, after a lot of confusion, played along pretending to be Santa. The tradition stuck, and now children from more than 200 countries around the world call each year.
- Most of us know about No Shave November or Movember, when men grow out their facial hair to raise awareness for prostate cancer. But you may not have heard about Mustache March. During March, some airmen carry on the tradition of growing mustaches to honor Brig. Gen. Robin Olds, the legendary, mustachioed triple ace pilot. An "Ace" is a pilot who has shot down five or more enemy aircraft.
Celebrate By Donating Your Car
A great way for you to help veterans of the Air Force and all other branches of the military is to donate a car to Vehicles For Veterans. Not only do you help veterans with your car donation, you also receive free towing from anywhere and a great tax deduction. Donate your car on the Air Force Birthday by calling 1-855-811-4838 or filling out an online car donation form.