Response of the US Public to the Invention of the Airplane

After the successful flight by the Wright Brothers in 1903, the United States witnessed an enormous range of reaction regarding the new technology arising as a result of the new fly era. In the following decade, the citizens and the general public of the United States viewed human flight as a revolutionary breakthrough primarily because its influence went well beyond aeronautics. Ideally, the airplane had some meaning for everyone – the enthusiastic pilots at the time, military and commercial entrepreneurs alike. As a result, there was much to reckon about the beginning of the flying era from the artistic expression borne by the airplane to the vast cultural implications exhibited by the ability to fly. To the United States public, the invention of the airplane caused so much emotional reception than any of the technological marvels of the time. The above reactions were both ways. To them, the invention of the airplane resulted in the birth of utopian hopes as well as the development of certain unsettling fears. To the United States public, the airplane took its place in the culture. The public took fascination of the aeronautical exhibitions of the time. Soon after, jewelry, clocks, postcards and various decorative items integrated flight motifs. The above means that the airplane was now part of the scene for the Unites States public.

In the 1920s, the United States public had developed a characteristic religious enthusiasm for the airplanes. The fascination of the above enthusiasm came as a result of the divine notion of a heavier-than-air machine flying. As a consequence of the above, the Unites States public came up with the phrase “the winged gospel”. With their winged gospel enthusiasm, they treated the airplane as a religious messiah. The perception of the United States public on the airplane was like a new sign in the heaven, viewing the ability to fly as an elevated flight to a particular holy cause. With respect to the above religious enthusiasm on the airplane, the United States public featured as missionaries or evangelists of aviation, with various aviation enthusiasts prophetically described the airplane’s future, anticipating that the airplane would result in the transformation of the existence of the human race. As a result of airplanes operating in the ‘heavens’ which is the traditional dwelling place of God, they helped in establishment and development of various utopian hopes. The winged gospel included three specific beliefs about the airplanes (Corn).

First, the United States public maintained a belief the airplanes had come to give rise to the “era of peace”. The rationale for the above belief found its basis upon the notion that nobody would dare to start a conflict with the risk of being attacked from the sky. The general public thought that as a result of planes quickly leaping over geographical and political boundaries the entire population on earth would share a single sky, thus embracing peaceful social revolution under one sky. The above belief continued to some even after the use of airplanes in killing civilians during the World War I.

The second belief in the winged gospel surfaced in the expectation that the airplanes had the ability to promote both equality and democracy among every oppressed group or community in the United States present in the early 20the Century. Majorly, the oppressed groups and communities in the 1920s feature the women and the blacks and consist of the majority who viewed the airplanes as a panacea to their oppression problems. Ideally, the presence of women pilots flying airplanes in the United States increased with time fostering aggressiveness, independence, and confidence among women. The above made the women believe in themselves even in various other professions. The same perception was the same for various races incorporated in the general public of the United States. Other than the advocacy for equality, various adherents of the above belief in the early 20th Century envisioned that the airplane age was ideal in the fostering of democracy, decreasing the massive monopolistic control brought forth by huge corporations. The rationale for the above found its basis in the fact that it required a constant exchange of ideas and perceptions to keep up with the timely advancement of the airplane.

With the establishment of the belief that the airplanes were doves of peace as well as the notion that they would foster equality and democracy, the third belief found its way and grew among the general public of the United States. In light of the above, the Americans found it rational to believe that the future of the aviation industry would feature extensive ownership of private airplanes by numerous individuals. In the late 1890s, the automobile had been invented the idea of the airplane still was a future hope. Now with the invention of the airplanes and the ability of massive production of the same, the general public of the United States believed that the only logical advancement in the aviation and airplane manufacturing industry was the massive production to the tune of individuals affording to purchase personal airplanes like it was the case with automobiles. The proponents of the above belief, who were the aeronautical enthusiasts at the time, found the above perception not only possible but inevitable as well. They were assured that the airplane era was in the way of creating a better life since with private airplanes, the general public would be in a position to escape the city congestion by living in the healthy countryside and accessing the cities by planes.

Work Cited

Corn, Joseph J. The Winged Gospel. Baltimore, Md.: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2002. Print.


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