On a frigid February day, there is no sanctuary from the biting winds at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio. Yet even as the Midwestern gusts whip across vast fields and over immense hangars, the US Air Force’s colossal C-17 Globemasters soar over the base with ease. As the gargantuan cargo aircraft circle overhead, it is difficult to imagine that 100 years ago, and just a few miles southwest at McCook field, researchers at the original incarnation of what is today the Air Force Research Laboratory were concocting plans to weaponise a wooden flying machine.
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