The wild blue yonder has been the domain of the US Air Force for decades. In this slideshow, we’re taking a 75th anniversary tour of the aircraft that Air Force pilots have flown, from the late 1940s to the present day.
Pictured here are F-16 Fighting Falcons flying in tight formation for the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s demonstration squadron.
It was in 1947 that the USAF became an independent military branch, breaking away from the US Army at the dawn of jet planes and the atomic age.
There are actually two dates from that year to consider. On July 25, President Harry Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947, which decreed that the Air Force should be its own separate branch. Then on Sept. 18, the act took effect — and that’s the date the Air Force celebrates.
This year is also the 115th anniversary of the first US military service dedicated to flying aircraft in the national defense: the Aeronautical Division of the US Signal Corps, which came into being on Aug. 1, 1907. We’re taking a look at that era in a separate slideshow, spanning from biplanes to jet prototypes.
This was originally published July 27, 2017, to mark the 70th anniversary of the US Air Force.