One hundred years ago this week, on February 15, 1917, Aviation Week’s founding editors issued an urgent warning. The U.S. had severed diplomatic relations with Germany and was on the verge of entering World War I.  But the magazine warned that the nation was ill-prepared to fight an air war.

“Today neither the United States Army or Navy can obtain immediately airplanes fit to cope with military machines that are in daily use abroad,” wrote the six-month old magazine, then known as Aviation and Aeronautical Engineering.  “It is imperative that we should hasten the development of military airplanes for army and naval use, but there is little prospect that we should have such machines in any considerable quantities for some time to come.”

Such concerns prompted President Woodrow Wilson to send Jerome Hunsaker, MIT’s first PH.d in aeronautical engineering, to Europe to report on advances in aviation there. The year before, Hunsaker had been instrumental in the establishment of this magazine as the nation’s first aeronautical journal.

Hunsaker’s report from Europe so alarmed Wilson that he directed the establishment of the nation’s first aeronautics laboratory, to be located within an overnight train ride from Washington. That lab. now NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton Roads, Virginia, will celebrate its 100th birthday later this year.  

Read the complete Feb. 15, 1917 edition of Aviation & Aeronautical Engineering