What the Movies Taught Us About World War II Aviation

I wrote this fun piece for my day job. It appears in our May 2015 issue of Air & Space / Smithsonian, now on sale at Barnes & Noble and other fine booksellers and newsstands, as well as the National Air & Space Museum. It’s our 70th anniversary of V-E Day issue, which – because it’ll be out in time for the Arsenal of Democracy Flyover on Friday, May 8th (the actual anniversary) – includes pull-out Spotter Cards you can use to identify the silhouettes of the two dozen vintage warbirds that’ll be buzzing over your head a few minutes past noon if you come down to the National Mall on that day.

Roger Livesey and Anton Walbrook in "The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp."

Roger Livesey & Anton Walbrook in “The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp.”

For the record, I do think William Wyler’s The Best Years of Our Lives is the greatest of the films I surveyed – if not the greatest flying movie – save for Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s 1943 masterpiece The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp, which I had occasion to mention only fleetingly.

Mark Harris’s book Five Came Back was an invaluable resource for me while writing this story.

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