David Pflieger highlights some of the most versatile and important aircraft of WWII.
Because of the central role of aircraft in World War 2, both the Allies and the Axis invested considerable resources into the development of the most advanced fighters and bombers of the day. The wide variety of combat environments and the unusual feats many of these aircraft were called upon to achieve turned the years between 1935 and 1950 into a golden age in aviation development.
Ultimately, the technology, materials and scientific advancements that took place during and immediately after the war led to successful space programs for both the Soviets and the Americans. They also made possible the tremendous aviation technology we know today. Here are three of World War 2’s most famous aircraft.
The Mitchell B-25 Bomber
One of the most versatile aircraft ever launched, the B-25 bomber changed the way the armed forces thought about aircraft. Because of its range and carrying capacity, the Mitchell bomber was uniquely well-suited to the kind of combat between Allied and Japanese forces in the Pacific. Later models of this twin-prop bomber were adapted for use as gunships in anti-shipping roles. The B-25 is widely regarded as one of the most durable aircraft of the war.
The Mitsubishi A6M “Zero”
Very likely one of the most famous aircraft of World War 2, the Japanese fighter started the war with no equal in either the Pacific or Europe. Hailed as one of the fastest fighters in the air and one of the most maneuverable. A Zero could turn inside nearly any allied fighter due to its incredibly low stalling speed. Its firepower was also a tremendous problem for Allied forces in the Pacific. Had Japan the manufacturing capacity, there are some who believe the Zero could have changed the outcome of the war.
Most would agree the P-51’s major contribution to the air war over Europe was its incredible speed. As one of the fastest prop-driven fighters ever launched, the Mustang attached a 14-foot propeller to one of the most advanced engines in the world and produced an aircraft that could cruise at more than 360 MPH. Even though it was fast, the Mustang also had amazing endurance, and made not only strategic fighter escorts possible, but also introduced the concept of air supremacy to the war in Europe.
World War 2 will forever be known as one of the first wars fought almost entirely with technological advances rather than just weapons. The aircraft of the era were the first to take advantage of this reality and usher the military and the world into a new era.
David Pflieger explains how Wilbur and Orville Wright set themselves apart from their competition and became pioneers of aviation.
We’ve all heard of the Wright brothers, but do you know exactly how they impacted the field of aviation and why they were different from their predecessors? Wilbur and Orville Wright were actually not even the first people to create a machine that flew in the air, but they are nonetheless credited with the invention more than anyone else, and they were definitely the most successful at it.
According to History, 1903 was the year that Wilbur flew the plane that the brothers had designed. He flew it for only 59 seconds, but he was able to safely land it. This was actually a huge step in aviation. Several other inventors had already been able to get a plane off of the ground, but the problem was that there was no control, and the aircraft often crashed. By observing how birds modulated their wings, they learned that this was the key to creating a flyer that the person flying it would be able to control. And this is also part of the reason why they are credited with creating the first successful airplane.
But having a machine that could both fly with control and land without crashing was only part of the success of the Wright brothers. It’s also only part of the reason that we have so long credited them with the invention of the airplane. When they first made claims in America that they had a machine that would fly, most people didn’t believe them. So Wilbur decided to take their invention over to Europe. The story was exactly the opposite there. In Europe, Wilbur found many people who were interested in their flying machine. By 1909, Orville had joined Wilbur, and they were giving rides to political figures and journalists. The interest grew, and soon after, Orville and Wilbur were setting up contracts both in Europe and the United States. After a few years, they were wealthy businessmen.
So although several other people were able to make machines that flew, the Wright brothers were the first ones to not only make one that could both fly and land without crashing, but they were also the first people to be able to market their invention to an interested public. On top of that, more than 100 years later, airplane designs still feature the modulated wing design that set their machine apart from the others that failed.
David “Dave” Pflieger works hard to support the islands of Fiji when not busy with his work in the airline industry. One of the organizations David Pflieger supports is the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprises & Development (FRIEND), a local NGO based on the west coast of Fiji’s main island, Viti Levu.
FRIEND plays a crucial role in the disaster response infrastructure of Fiji, using its experience in planning, food security, and capacity building to effectively mobilize disaster relief. Its immense knowledge of the area enables it to efficiently engage in triage, focusing on the areas hit hardest by a disaster and immediately deploying relief where it is most needed. Its efforts begin with humanitarian assistance before moving on to rehabilitation needs such as the development of sustainable livelihoods and job creation.
This work is essential due to the frequency of tropical depressions, cyclones, and other intense weather conditions in the region. Many communities on the islands are vulnerable to these or other disasters, which has led FRIEND to design capacity-building efforts that focus on the most vulnerable areas. Disaster relief also addresses other common Fiji issues, such as droughts and the agricultural depressions that result from such events.
Longtime aviation expert David “Dave” Pflieger has held multiple leadership positions in the field, including roles as Vice President of Operations, Director of Flight Safety, Chief Operations Attorney for Delta Air Lines, and more recently the President & CEO of Larry Ellison’s airline in Hawaii (Larry was the founder of Oracle). Now the President and CEO of Ravn Air Group in Alaska, David Pflieger previously held a position as the General Counsel and Senior Vice President of Virgin America where he successfully led the company to work with the EPA and become the first airline in the United States to track and report its greenhouse gas footprint and disclose its findings to the Climate Registry.
A nonprofit organization launched in 2007 between the United States and Canada, the Climate Registry works to help organizations measure, report, and reduce their greenhouse gasses and make the information available to the public online. A board of directors comprised of officials from the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Native Sovereign Nations governs the Climate Registry.
The organization requires the reporting of all six emissions gasses: carbon dioxide, hydrofluorocarbons, methane, nitrous oxide, perfluorocarbons, and sulfur hexafluoride. As part of its regulations concerning emissions tracking, management, and improvement, the Climate Registry uses meticulous, uncompromising standards that are consistent throughout all participating areas, including the international realm.