Episode Description

Taking Flight

In the days before America enters World War 2, men in different parts of the country are champing at the bit to show their stuff. George Welch and Kenneth Taylor are two rookie pilots stationed at an airfield near the Hawaiian naval base at Pearl Harbor. Neither has ever fired a shot in battle. After a night of drinking, poker, and chasing girls, they awake on December 7, 1941 to the sound of attacking Japanese planes. While people around them flee in panic, Welch and Taylor throw on their party clothes from the night before and take to the skies to fight. In two sorties they shoot down over six Japanese aircraft, making them the first heroes of the war.

Chuck Yeager has dreams of being a fighter pilot, but doesn’t have the college education required. He gets to fix planes, not fly them. When the attack on Pearl Harbor launches America into war, the military suddenly needs all the pilots it can get. Yeager climbs into a cockpit, and the rest is history. With his exceptional 20/10 vision, he’s able to spot German fighter craft before his fellow pilots, and is fearless in confronting them. He’s shot down behind enemy lines in France, but escapes over the Pyrenees Mountains. He becomes an ace in a day when he shoots down five enemy planes in a single sortie. And when the war ends, he becomes the test pilot who achieves one of the greatest feats in aviation history: the breaking of the sound barrier.

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