The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, AIAA, the professional society for US aerospace engineers, is revitalising its identity with the marketing slogan “When did you know?”. Assuming they weren’t asking me when I realised that girls were different, I thought back to what first sparked my interest in aviation.
The farm in Scotland on which I grew up was in a low-flying zone. As a young lad I remember playing in the woods and looking up to see a Royal Air Force Avro Vulcan nuclear bomber fly overhead. It was all white, its black radome stark against the anti-flash paint scheme, so it must have been the early 1960s. I can’t have been very old, but I was hooked.
As I grew up I watched F-101s, F-104s, F-111s, Phantoms, Bucanneers, Hawks, Harriers, Jaguars and Tornados from the RAF, USAF and other NATO air forces fly down the valleys and skim over the hills around the farm. Aircraft became an obsession (okay, girls too). If you go on the AIAA’s website, you can read other people’s stories of how their imagination was captured.