U.S. Air Force
Integrity - Service - Excellence
Air Force Vision
Global vigilance, reach and power.
Air Force Mission
The mission of the U.S. Air Force is to defend the United States and protect its interests through air and space power.
U.S. Air Force: Separation from the U.S. Army
World War II had been over for two years and the Korean War lay three years ahead when the Air Force ended a 40-year association with the U.S. Army to become a separate service. The U.S. Air Force thus entered a new era in which airpower became firmly established as a major element of the nation’s defense and one of its chief hopes for deterring war.
The Department of the Air Force was created when President Harry S. Truman signed the National Security Act of 1947. It became effective Sept. 18, 1947, when Chief Justice Fred M. Vinson administered the oath of office to the first secretary of the Air Force, W. Stuart Symington, a position filled by presidential appointment.
Under the National Security Act, the functions assigned to the Army Air Force's commanding general transferred to the Department of the Air Force. The act provided for an orderly two-year transfer of these functions as well as property, personnel and records.
Later, under the Department of Defense Reorganization Act of 1958, the departments of Army, Navy and Air Force were eliminated from the chain of operational command. Commanders of unified and specified commands became responsible to the president and the secretary of defense through the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The act redefined the functions of the military departments to those of essentially organizing, training, equipping and supporting combat forces for the unified and specified commands. Each military department retained resource management of its service.
The brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright's made the first flight at Kitty Hawk (Outer Banks North Carolina) on December 17, 1903, at around 10:35 am.
How it started...
On Aug. 1, 1907, the U.S. Army Signal Corps established a small Aeronautical Division to take "charge of all matters pertaining to military ballooning, air machines and all kindred subjects."
The Signal Corps began testing its first airplane at Fort Myer, Va., on Aug. 20, 1908, and on Sept. 9, Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge, flying with Orville Wright, was killed when the plane crashed. He was the first military aviation casualty.
But not until May 26, 1909, did Lts Frank P. Lahm and Benjamin D. Foulois make their first ascent and qualify as the airship's first Army pilots.
After more testing with an improved Wright Flyer, the Army formally accepted this airplane, identified as "Airplane No. 1," on Aug. 2, 1909.