Aviation and the military share an intertwined history. It’s impossible to talk about one and not the other. Many advances in aviation technology came at the hands of military tacticians, and it’s impossible to imagine the armed forces without aircraft.

The smoke balloons and hot-air balloons of the American Civil War signaled a coming dependence on aircraft in the military. World War I brought the fighter biplane, followed in World War II by the development of aircraft carriers, primitive computers, radars, jet engines and missiles. Helicopters were also introduced at the end of WWII. This was the beginning of the advanced technologies used today.

During the Vietnam War, the United States Air Force flew 5.25 million sorties over the region, losing 2,251 aircraft. The United States Navy lost 959 aircraft, and the Marine Corp lost 463 aircraft.

Since then, the technology has only become more sophisticated. Faster, more accurate, stealthier. The list of aircraft in service right now is long and varied.

Now, aircraft are our first line of defense and they are also the first we send out to attack. The men and women of our military aviation are the first ones asked to protect our country. Sunday is Veterans Day. It’s important for Americans to remember the sacrifices and advances made by the personnel of our military. Thank you, Veterans.