HST 346

SP 15

Dr. Janet R. Bednarek

Office: HM 464

Office Hours: M, W, 1-2:45 and by appt.

e-mail: jbednarek1@udayton.edu

webpage: http://academic.udayton.edu/JanetBednarek





Corn, The Winged Gospel

Courtwright, Sky as Frontier

Clodfelter, The Limits of Airpower

Hansen, The Bird is on the Wing


Additional Readings available through Isidore.




The purpose of this class is to explore the social, political, military, and industrial history of American aviation.  We will focus primarily on atmospheric flight, though we will touch on space and the transformation of the aviation industry into the aerospace industry at the end of the class.


Americans generally have reacted very enthusiastically to new technologies.  They have also given technology a certain “agency” – technology as a cause or shaper of events.  Technology has also been seen as being capable of transforming human beings.  For example, how many times have you heard that this or that technology is fundamentally changing humans – they way we think or learn.  In this course we will read from historians who question the role of technology human history and explore how humans have shaped technologies, rather than the other way around.  We will explore the idea that we can master our technologies or our technologies can master us.


Aviation technology in particular seemed to inspire a great deal of enthusiasm.  Those who mastered that technology have become some of the nation’s most enduring heroes, especially the Wright Brothers and Charles Lindbergh.


The airplane has also been credited with transforming how we fight wars.  We’ll look at the development of military doctrines concerning aviation and explore the role of aviation in several US-fought wars (WWI, WWII, Korea, Vietnam, and the Gulf Wars).


And the aviation/aerospace sector has played a major role in the US economy in the 20th and into the 21st century.  We’ll look at the evolution of this sector since 1903.


This class is part of the Values, Technology and Society Cluster.



There will be two exams, a mid-term and a final exam.  The mid-term will cover material presented in the first half of the class.  The final exam will be a combination of in-class and take-home elements and primarily will cover material presented in the second half of the class.  Study guides will be provided in advance of the exams.


Make-up policy:


As a general rule, no make-up tests will be allowed; see the department of history guidelines for more information and possible exceptions.  Efforts will be made to accommodate athlete/band/cheerleader/other university sanctioned student events, previously scheduled.  A note is required from the appropriate sponsoring program or department.  Again, please refer to the History Department Guidelines for further information.




You will be required to write six two- to three-page papers based on course readings.  The format and requirements for these papers are described on a separate handout.  Each paper will be worth 30 points for a total of 180 points.  Late papers will not be accepted (see handout).


Total Page Requirements:  12-18 pages.


I will give you the opportunity to re-write the first paper based on comments and feedback.  The re-write will be due Wednesday, Feb 4.  If you decide to do the re-write, your final grade for the first assignment will be based on your revised paper.  After than point, if you want to have an opportunity to re-write your papers based on comments and feedback, you must submit your paper to me AT LEAST 48 hours in advance.  I will then provide comments and feedback in time for you to revise your paper.  In those cases only the revised paper will be graded.




Attendance in the course is required.  You will be allowed three unexcused absences.  For every unexcused absence beyond those three, five points will be deducted from your final point total for the class.  Frequent absences will adversely affect your final grade.


An attendance sheet will be passed out during each class.  It is your responsibility to make sure that you sign in each day.



GRADE SCALE (based on percentage of total points possible):


A                     91-100%                                  C+                   77-78%           

                                                                        C                     71-76%           

A-                    89-90%                                    C-                    69-70%           


B+                   87-88%                                    D                     60-68%           

B                     81-86%                                                           

B-                    79-80%                                    F                      00-59%



Absolutely no extra credit work will be allowed.  Any academic dishonesty will result in a failure for the course.  If in doubt about what constitutes academic dishonesty, consult the student handbook.  http://www.udayton.edu/~studev/studenthandbook




I understand that as a student of the University of Dayton, I am a member of our academic and social community.  I recognize the importance of my education and the value of experiencing life in such an integrated community.  I believe that the value of my education and degree is critically dependent upon the academic integrity of the university community, and so in order to maintain our academic integrity, I pledge to:


Complete all assignments and examinations by the guidelines given to me by my instructors;


Avoid plagiarism and any other form of misrepresenting someone else's work as my own;


Adhere to the Standards of Conduct as outlined in the Academic Honor Code.


In doing this, I hold myself and my community to a higher standard of excellence, and set an example for my peers to follow.





NOTE:  Due to extenuating circumstances the following class schedule may be subject to change.






MON   12 Jan              Introduction


WED    14 Jan              Pre-Flight:  Chanute and Langley

                                    Hansen, pp. 15-40


MON   19 Jan             Martin Luther King, Jr., Day – no classes


WED    21 Jan              Why the Wright Brothers

                                    Jakab, “Why Orville and Wilbur?” pp, 1-17


MON   26 Jan              America Greets the Airplane

                                    Courtwright, pp. 5-37; Corn, pp. 3-50


WED    28 Jan              The First World War:  Origins of Strategic Bombing Theory

                                    Douhet, Command of the Air, pp.34-68

                                    PAPER ONE DUE


MON   2 Feb               Industry, Barnstormers, and Aviation Enthusiasm

                                    Courtwright, pp. 38-55; Corn, 51-70


WED    4 Feb               Airmail and the Birth of the Airlines

                                    Courtwright, pp. 56-69

                                    PAPER ONE RE-WRITE DUE


MON   9 Feb               Reinventing the Airplane

                                    Hansen, pp. 41-81

                                    PAPER TWO DUE


WED    11 Feb             Lindbergh

                                    Courtwright, pp. 70-88


MON   16 Feb             African Americans, Women and the Next Generation in Aviation

                                    Corn, pp. 71-90; 113-133.


WED    18 Feb             US Government and the Promotion/Regulation of Aviation

                                    Courtwright, pp. 91-109; Corn, pp. 91-111


MON   23 Feb             Army Aviation, 1920s-1930s

                                    Mitchell, Winged Defense (1925) 97-119; DeSeversky, 254-291.

                                    PAPER THREE DUE


WED    25 Feb             Navy Aviation, 1920s-1930s; Study Guide for First Exam distributed


MON   2 Mar               Airpower and World War II; Courtwright, pp. 110-131


WED   4 Mar              MIDTERM EXAM


MON   9 Mar               New Technology:  Jets and Rockets


WED    11 Mar             Breaking the Sound Barrier

                                    Hansen, pp. 82-109, 110-142


MON   16 Mar             Military Aviation:  Korea and the early Cold War

                                    Clodfelter, 1-37.


WED    18 Mar             Military Aviation: Vietnam

                                    Clodfelter, 39-115, 147- 210

                                    PAPER FOUR DUE


MON   23 Mar             Military Aviation Since Vietnam

                                    Clodfelter, 211-223.


WED    25 Mar             Commercial Aviation:  Technology

                                    Hansen, 175-211


MON   30 Mar             Commercial Aviation:  Making Flight a Mass Experience

                                    Courtwright, pp. 132-171

                                    PAPER FIVE DUE


WED    1 Apr               Commercial Aviation: From Regulation to Deregulation


MON   6 Apr               Commercial Aviation Industry Since WWII – From Jet Age to Bus with Wings


WED    8 Apr               The Cold War, the Space Race and the Creation of the Aerospace                                                      Industry

Mullin, “Robert E. Gross and the Rise of Lockheed,” pp. 57-78; Bromberg, “Legacies,” pp. 16-44



MON   13 Apr             The Aviation/Aerospace Industry Since WWII


WED   15 Apr             Stander Symposium – no classes


MON   20 Apr             The SST:  The Curious Case of the “Inevitable Airplane”

                                    Hansen, pp. 143-174


WED    22 Apr             Aviation and Aerospace in Popular Culture


Final Exam                 Monday, 27 April, 4:30-6:20 p.m.